5 Customs Law Trends To Watch

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Every business engaged in export or import activities should work with a customs attorney to stay ahead of trends. It is also important for clients to study trends so they can prepare. The world is moving quickly, and a customs lawyer will want their clients to look out for these 5 developments.

Great Power Competition and Sanctions

The first two decades of the 20th Century were dominated by concerns regarding non-state actors, frequently involving things like weapons and consumer electronics. It would appear that Great Power politics, however, could potentially become the overarching theme of the 2020s—and likely beyond. Unfortunately, that means exporters and importers are likely to face major hurdles in dealing with transactions involving goods as basic as grains and fuels.

Sanctions regimes may appear overnight as major countries try to break each other economically. Consequently, you and your customs attorney need to keep up with bulletins so you can learn when sanctions will go into effect.

Technology Transfers

As the world becomes more dependent on microchips and software systems, customs regimes are focusing more on limiting technology transfers. Bear in mind this includes assets that may feel intangible, such as computer programs. Even if your transactions never cross traditional customs control points like harbors or airports, there is a risk of regulatory issues or even legal violations. Before you do business involving any transfer of technology outside your country, ask a customs lawyer to review your plans.


Internationalization has created major concerns when it comes to the potential spread of pathogens and infesting creatures. Many countries strictly limit the movement of food and animal products that may encourage possible outbreaks of diseases or the appearance of invasive species. This also extends to many wood products, and it may even extend to your choice of shipping containers, especially pallets.


Trade protectionism is an old trend that is becoming new again. Countries are increasingly imposing fees on moving specific materials or products into their territories.

You likely won't encounter too many problems if you pay up. However, countries' customs officers are on the lookout for folks transferring goods through third-party nations to avoid tariffs. You will want to have paperwork available with every shipment to document origins and transfers along the way. Otherwise, you may find your shipments impounded until you can document where everything came from


As more products and materials move around, classifications are becoming more complex. You must classify everything you transfer accurately. Ask a customs attorney to help you classify shipments so you can minimize the risk of delays.