what is harbor maintenance fee

What Is a Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) and How Is It Calculated?

The harbor maintenance fee, also known as HMF is a payment that is collected by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), for all inbound shipments to the U.S. via sea freight. 

This fee amounts to 0.125% of the commercial cargo value and is used to facilitate the maintenance and improvements of sea ports in the United States. There is no fee collected for shipments arriving by air or truck or any form of transshipment. 

This charge is applicable to all shipments entering all U.S. ports as defined in the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (Publication 99-662 – Section 1402). In total, there are 197 ports in the United states across 32 states that require a payment of the Harbor Maintenance Fee.

The HMF is collected on all formal entries, including warehouse entries and temporary importation under bond entries, and admissions into foreign trade zones. When it comes to calculating the landed costs of shipments, the HMF us usually considered as part of the destination charges.

How To Calculate Harbor Maintenance Fees?

The calculation of the HMF is straightforward and simple. In essence, the Harbor Maintenance Fee is 0.125% of the cargo value that is found in the commercial invoice.

For example, if the cargo value of a shipment is $20,000.00, the Harbour Maintenance is as follows: $20,000 x 0.125% = $25.00.

Does the Harbor Maintenance Fee Have a Minimum or Maximum Charge?

Currently, the United States Customs and Border Protection has implemented no minimum or maximum charge for the Harbor Maintenance fee. The amount is purely based on the commercial invoice value of the cargo at a rate of 0.125%.

How Did the Harbor Maintenance Fee Come About?

The Harbor Maintenance Fee came about through the inception of the Resource Act of 1986. The fees were initially conceptualized to fund the maintenance and improvement of U.S. ports and harbors.

The implementation of the initiative started all the way back on April 11, 1987 and applied to all imports, exports, and passengers between U.S. ports. 

However, on March 31, 1998, the United States Supreme Court declared the harbour maintenance fee for domestic shipments unconstitutional. This has resulted in the HMF no longer being applicable for export and domestic shipments. 

For What Type of Products is a Harbor Maintenance Fee Charged?

Unless otherwise stated in the Water Resources Development Act Section 1402 of Pub. L. 99-662, as amended, all shipments (dutiable and duty-free) that are arriving at a U.S. sea port are subject to the harbor maintenance fee.

What Are the Exemptions to Harbor Maintenance Fees?

As with many laws and regulations, there are certain exceptions. Below is a list of when harbor maintenance fees are not applicable:

  1. Bunker fuel, ship’s stores, sea stores, and vessel equipment.
  2. Fish or other aquatic animal life, caught and not previously landed onshore.
  3. Ferries engaged primarily in the transport of passengers and their vehicles between ports within the U.S. or between the U.S. and contiguous countries.
  4. Certain loading and unloading of cargo in Alaska, Hawaii, or the possessions of the U.S. 
  5. Commercial vessels, if any fuel used to move the cargo is subject to the Inland Waterway Fuel Tax .
  6. Cargo entering the U.S. in bond for transportation and direct exportation to a foreign country, unless, with respect to cargo exported to Canada or Mexico.
  7. Cargo or vessels of the U.S. or any agency or instrumentality of the U.S. 
  8. Cargo owned or financed by nonprofit organizations or cooperatives which is certified by the CBP as intended for use in humanitarian or development assistance overseas, including contiguous countries. 

You’ll be able to find more information on exemptions in 19 CFR § 24.24 under the Harbor Maintenance Fee section. 

Additionally, Section 7 in Special Rules states that the harbor maintenance fee is not applicable for Intraport movements. For example, once a shipment from a vessel has already been unloaded and reloaded to another vessel or is moved within the port, additional harbor maintenance fees are not applicable.

Who Pays the Harbor Maintenance Fees and How Is it Paid?

In all cases, the importer of the cargo is responsible for paying the Harbor Maintenance Fees. It must follow standard United States Customs and Border Protection collection procedures. This is normally done by completing the CBP form 7501. 

The fee is paid by the importer as an additional charge on top of the normal duty, tax or fee payable at the time of customs clearance. For cargo that is brought to Foreign Trade Zones, the importer must settle harbor maintenance fees every quarter by submitting CBP Form 349. 

Quarterly periods end on the last day of March, June, September, and December no later than 31 days after the close of the quarter. 

All collected fees are deposited into the Harbor Maintenance Trust fund, where the United States Congress allocates the amounts to pay for projects related to harbor maintenance and development in the United States.

What Ports Require Payment for Harbor Maintenance Fees?

Here is a list of all the U.S. ports where a harbor maintenance fee is applicable. Movements within these ports are typically classified as domestic or intraport movements.

  • Alabama
    • 1901 – Mobile
  • Alaska
    • 3126 – Anchorage
    • 3106 – Dalton Cache
    • 3101 – Juneau
    • 3102 – Ketchikan
    • 3127 – Kodiak
    • 3112 – Petersburg
    • 3125 – Sand Point
    • 3115 – Sitka
  • California
    • 2802 – Eureka
    • 2709 – Long Beach Harbor
    • 2704 – Los Angeles
    • 2713 – Port Hueneme
    • 2712 – Ventura
    • 2805 – Monterrey
    • 2719 – Morro Bay
    • 2501 – San Diego
    • 2707 – San Luis
    • 2813 – Alameda
    • 2830 – Carquinez Strait
    • 2815 – Crockett
    • 2820 – Martinez
    • 2811 – Oakland
    • 2821 – Redwood City
    • 2812 – Richmond
    • 2816 – Sacramento
    • 2809 – San Francisco
    • 2828 – San Joaquin
    • 2829 – San Pablo Bay
    • 2827 – Selby
    • 2810 – Stockton
    • 2831 – Suisun Bay
  • Connecticut
    • 0410 – Bridgeport
    • 0411 – Hartford
    • 0412 – New Haven
    • 0413 – New London
  • Delaware
    • 1102 – Chester, PA
    • 1107 – Camden, NJ
    • 1113 – Gloucester, NJ
    • 1118 – Marcus Hook, PA
    • 1105 – Paulsboro, NJ
    • 1101 – Philadelphia, PA
    • 1103 – Wilmington, DE
  • District of Columbia
    • 5402 – Alexandria, VA
    • 5401 – Washington, DC
  • Florida
    • 1807 – Boca Grande
    • 1805 – Fernandina Beach
    • 5205 – Fort Pierce
    • 1803 – Jacksonville
    • 5202 – Key West
    • 5201 – Miami
    • 1818 – Panama City 
    • 1819 – Pensacola
    • 1816 – Port Canaveral
    • 5203 – Port Everglades
    • 1814 – St Petersburg
    • 1801 – Tampa
    • 5204 – West Palm Beach 
  • Georgia
    • 1701 – Brunswick
    • 1703 – Savannah
  • Hawaii
    • 3202 – Hilo 
    • 3201 – Honolulu
    • 3203 – Kahului
    • 3204 – Nawiliwili-Port Allen
  • Illinois
    • 3901 – Chicago, IL
    • 3904 – East Chicago, IN
    • 3905 – Gary, IN 
  • Indiana
    • 3901 – Chicago, IL
    • 3904 – East Chicago, IN
    • 3905 – Gary, IN
  • Louisiana
    • 2017 – Lake Charles
    • 2004 – Baton Rouge
    • 2010 – Gramercy
    • 2002 – New Orleans
    • 2005 – Port Sulphur
    • 2001 – Morgan City
  • Maine
    • 0102 – Bangor
    • 0111 – Bath
    • 0131 – Portsmouth, NH
    • 0132 – Belfast
    • 0101 – Portland 
  • Maryland
    • 1303 – Baltimore
    • 1302 – Cambridge
    • 1301 – Annapolis
  • Massachusetts
    • 0401 – Boston
    • 0404 – Gloucester
    • 0407 – Fall River
  • Michigan
    • 3843 – Alpena
    • 3801 – Detroit
    • 3802 – Port Huron
    • 3808 – Escanaba
    • 3809 – Marquette
    • 3842 – Presque Isle
    • 3815 – Muskegon
    • 3816 – Grand Haven
    • 3844 – Ferrysburg
    • 3803 – Sault Ste. Marie
    • 3804 – Saginaw-Flint-Bay City
    • 3843 – Alpena
  • Minnesota
    • 3601 – Duluth
    • 3602 – Ashland
    • 3608 – Superior
    • 3614 – Silver Bay
  • Mississippi
    • 1902 – Gulfport
    • 1903 – Pascagoula
  • New Hampshire
    • 0131 – Portsmouth, NH
  • New Jersey
    • 1102 – Chester, PA
    • 1107 – Camden, NJ
    • 1113 – Gloucester, NJ
    • 1118 – Marcus Hook, PA
    • 1105 – Paulsboro, NJ
    • 1101 – Philadelphia, PA
    • 1103 – Wilmington, DE
    • 1003 – Newark 
    • 1004 – Perth Amboy
  • New York
    • 1001 – New York
    • 1003 – Newark
    • 1004 – Perth Amboy
    • 1002 – Albany 
    • 0901 – Buffalo-Niagara Falls 
    • 0706 – Cape Vincent
    • 0701 – Ogdensburg
    • 0904 – Oswego
    • 0903 – Rochester
    • 0905 – Sodus Point 
  • North Carolina
    • 1511 – Beaufort-Morehead City
    • 1501 – Wilmington
  • Ohio
    • 4108 – Ashtabula
    • 4101 – Cleveland
    • 4109 – Conneaut
    • 4106 – Erie, PA
    • 4111 – Fairport
    • 4117 – Huron
    • 4121 – Lorain
    • 4105 – Toledo-Sandusky
  • Oregon
    • 2901 – Astoria, OR
    • 2904 – Portland, OR
    • 2909 – Kalama, WA
    • 2905 – Longview, WA
    • 2908 – Vancouver, WA
    • 2903 – Coos Bay
    • 2902 – Newport
  • Pennsylvania
    • 1102 – Chester, PA
    • 1107 – Camden, NJ
    • 1113 – Gloucester, NJ
    • 1118 – Marcus Hook, PA
    • 1105 – Paulsboro, NJ
    • 1101 – Philadelphia, PA
    • 1103 – Wilmington, DE 
  • Puerto Rico
    • 4907 – Mayagüez
    • 4908 – Ponce
    • 4909 – San Juan
  • Rhode Island 
    • 0502 – Providence 
  • South Carolina
    • 1601 – Charleston
    • 1602 – Georgetown 
  • Texas
    • 2301 – Brownsville
    • 5312 – Corpus Christi
    • 5311 – Freeport
    • 5310 – Galveston
    • 5306 – Texas City
    • 5301 – Houston 
    • 5313 – Port Lavaca
    • 2104 – Beaumont
    • 2103 – Orange
    • 2101 – Port Arthur
    • 2102 – Sabine 
  • Virginia
    • 5402 – Alexandria, VA
    • 5401 – Washington, DC
    • 1406 – Cape Charles
    • 1402 – Newport News
    • 1401 – Norfolk
    • 1408 – Hopewell
    • 1404 – Richmond/Petersburg
  • Washington
    • 3003 – Aberdeen
    • 3005 – Bellingham
    • 3006 – Everett
    • 3007 – Port Angeles
    • 3001 – Seattle
    • 3002 – Tacoma
    • 3026 – Olympia
    • 3010 – Anacortes 
    • 2901 – Astoria, OR
    • 2904 – Portland, OR
    • 2909 – Kalama, WA
    • 2905 – Longview, WA
    • 2908 – Vancouver, WA
  • Wisconsin
    • 3602 – Ashland
    • 3703 – Green Bay
    • 3702 – Marinette 
    • 3701 – Milwaukee
    • 3708 – Racine
    • 3707 – Sheboygan

Take note that each of these ports may have several smaller or inland ports that may be included and where an HMF is applicable. It’s best to check the official documentation for the Port Codes, Names and Descriptions of Ports Subject to Harbor Maintenance Fee in Section 1402 of Pub. L. 99–662)