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Merchandise Processing Fee and Harbor Maintenance Fee


When you must pay a Merchandise Processing Fee or Harbor Maintenance Fee, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake.

If you are new to importing goods in the US, there are many regulations, requirements, restrictions, and fees to consider.

Two of the most important fees that we often get questions about are the Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) and the Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF).

The MPF and HMF are two of the most common maintenance fees you will come across when dealing with customs brokerage for imported cargo.

Read on to learn all about how to calculate Harbor Maintenance fees and Merchandise Processing fees for your import shipments.

Merchandise Processing Fee

The Merchandise Processing Fee is a fee you must pay to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when you pay the duties and taxes on your shipment’s entry summary.

However, there are exemptions to the rule like importing cargo under the many Preferential Trade Programs the U.S. has with certain countries.

If you are unsure you can check the list of preferential trade agreements or visit the World Trade Organization website. The MPF is required for the following cargo types:

  • Air cargo
  • Ocean freight
  • International mail

The MPF is determined by the “entered value”, or “declared value” of your merchandise.  It is in proportion to the fee calculated for formal entries at 0.3464 percent. Formal entries are commercial cargo valued at $2,500 or more. When you are calculating the MPF you do not include the following:

  • Cargo insurance
  • Freight value
  • Duty on the shipment

In addition, the Merchandise Processing Fee must be over $26 and less than $509. So, when calculating your MPF, if you exceed $509, you only pay this maximum amount.

Additionally, there are individual fees for informal entries, ranging from $2.00, $6.00, or $9.00 per shipment.

An informal entry may also include personal use imports but will always be valued at less than $2,500.

One way you can figure out if you owe the MPF is to check with the MPF Table per the US Customs and Border Protection.

Another solution is to choose a trusted freight forwarding company like BGI with a proven track record to help you with importing goods into the US.

Harbor Maintenance Fee

According to the US Customs and Border Protection, the Harbor Maintenance Fee is required at certain ports for the following types of cargo:

  • Imported freight
  • Domestic shipments
  • Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) admissions
  • Passengers

You will notice that the Harbor Maintenance Fee is not charged on air freight. In addition, the HMF fee has not been collected on exported freight since 1998.

The amount that is charged is 0.125 percent of the value of the cargo in transit.

The purpose of the HMF is to help cover the costs of maintaining our nation’s ports and harbors and, therefore, the money taken from the HMF is put into the Harbor Maintenance Fund that is controlled by Congress.

How to Handle Processing Fees

When you must pay a Merchandise Processing Fee or Harbor Maintenance Fee, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake.

Take care when calculating the fees to ensure that they are correct. If in doubt, choose BGI to manage your import shipments.

You will get a dedicated and experienced team of logistics specialists to help guide you through the maze of import regulations, fees, and requirements.

Depend on BGI Worldwide Logistics

To find out more about other ways we can help, check out the broad range of freight forwarding and logistics services on our website.

BGI Worldwide Logistics offers over the road services including less than truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) trucking, intermodal rail, and oversized freight, as well as FBA imports to Amazon and cross-border cargo.

Based in Signal Hill, California, we work with clients globally.

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