TREATIES AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ACTS SERIES 12944
Agreement Between the
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Signed at Washington April 17, 1998
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA
REGARDING MUTUAL ASSISTANCE
BETWEEN THEIR CUSTOMS ADMINISTRATIONS
The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of
Latvia, hereinafter referred to as "the Parties";
Considering that offenses against customs laws are prejudicial to the economic, fiscal and
commercial interests of their respective countries;
Considering the importance of assuring the accurate assessment of customs duties and
Recognizing the need for international cooperation in matters related to the administration
and enforcement of the customs laws of their respective countries;
Having regard to the international conventions containing prohibitions, restrictions and
special measures of control in respect of specific goods;
Convinced that action against customs offenses can be made more effective by
cooperation between their Customs Administrations; and
Having regard to the Recommendation of the Customs Cooperation Council regarding
Mutual Administrative Assistance of December 5, 1953;
Have agreed as follows:
For the purposes of the present Agreement:
1. the term "Customs Administration" means, in the United States of America,
the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, and in the
Republic of Latvia, the State Revenue Service Customs Board;
2. the term "customs laws" means the laws and regulations enforced by the
Customs Administrations concerning the importation, exportation, and transit
or circulation of goods as they relate to customs duties, charges, and other
taxes or to prohibitions, restrictions, and other similar controls respecting the
movement of controlled items across national boundaries;
3. the term "information" means data in any form, documents, records, and
reports or certified or authenticated copies thereof;
4. the term "offense" means any violation or attempted violation of the customs
5. the term "person" means any natural or legal person;
6. the term "property" means assets of every kind, whether corporeal or
incorporeal, movable or immovable, tangible or intangible, and legal
documents or instruments evidencing title to or an interest in such assets;
7. the term "provisional measures" includes:
a. "seizure" or "freezing," which means:
(i) temporarily prohibiting the conversion, movement, or transfer
of property, or
(ii) temporarily assuming custody or control of property on the
basis of an order issued by a court or competent authority, or
other means; and
b. "forfeiture" means the deprivation of property by order of a court or
competent authority and includes confiscation where applicable;
8. the term "requesting administration" means the Customs Administration that
9. the term "requested administration" means the Customs Administration from
which assistance is requested.
SCOPE OF AGREEMENT
1. The Parties, through their Customs Administrations, shall assist each other, in
accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, in preventing, investigating,
and repressing any offense.
2. Each Customs Administration shall execute requests for assistance made
pursuant to this Agreement in accordance with its domestic law.
3. This Agreement is intended solely for mutual legal assistance between the
Parties; the provisions of this Agreement shall not give rise to a right on the
part of any private person to obtain, suppress, or exclude any evidence, or to
impede the execution of a request.
SCOPE OF GENERAL ASSISTANCE
1. Upon request, a Customs Administration shall provide assistance in the form
of information necessary to ensure the enforcement of the customs laws and
the accurate assessment of customs duties and other taxes by the Customs
2. Upon request or upon its own initiative, a Customs administration may provide
assistance in the form of information, including but not limited to, information
a. methods and techniques of processing passengers and cargo;
b. the successful application of enforcement aids and techniques;
c. enforcement actions that might be useful to suppress offenses and, in
particular, special means of combating offenses; and
d. new methods used in committing offenses.
3. The Customs Administrations shall cooperate in:
a. establishing and maintaining channels of communication to facilitate
the secure and rapid exchange of information;
b. facilitating effective coordination;
c. the consideration and testing of new equipment or procedures; and
d. any other general administrative matters that may from time to time
require their joint action.
SCOPE OF SPECIFIC ASSISTANCE
1. Upon request, the Customs Administrations shall inform each other whether
goods exported from the territory of one Party have been lawfully imported
into the territory of the other Party. If requested, the information shall contain
the customs procedure used for clearing the goods.
2. Upon request, a requested administration shall exercise, to the extent of its
ability and within the limits of its available resources, special surveillance of:
a. persons known to the requesting Party to have committed a customs
offense or suspected of doing so, particularly those moving into and out
of its territory;
b. goods either in transport or in storage identified by the requesting Party
as giving rise to suspected illicit traffic toward its territory; and
c. means of transport suspected of being used in offenses within the
territory of the requesting Party.
3. Upon request or on their own initiative, the Customs Administrations shall
furnish to each other information regarding the activities that may result in
offenses within the territory of the other Party. In situations that could involve
substantial damage to the economy, public health, public security, or similar
vital interest of the other Party, the Customs Administrations, wherever
possible, shall supply such information without being requested to do so.
4. The Parties shall provide assistance through the use of provisional measures
and in proceedings involving property, proceeds, and instrumentalities subject
to these provisional measures.
5. The Parties may:
a. dispose of property, proceeds, and instrumentalities forfeited as a result
of assistance provided under this Agreement in accordance with the
domestic law of the Party in control of the property, proceeds, and
b. to the extent permitted by their respective domestic laws, transfer
forfeited property, proceeds, or instrumentalities, or the proceeds of
their sale, to the other Party upon such terms as may be agreed.
FILES AND DOCUMENTS
1. Upon request, the Customs Administrations shall provide information relating
to transportation and shipment of goods showing value, destination, and
disposition of those goods.
2. A requesting administration may request originals of files, documents, and
other materials only where copies would be insufficient. Upon request, the
requested administration shall provide properly authenticated copies of such
files, documents, and other materials.
3. Unless the requesting administration specifically requests originals or copies,
the requested administration may transmit computer-based information in any
form. The requested administration shall supply all information relevant for
interpreting or utilizing computer-based information at the same time.
4. If the requested administration agrees, officials designated by the requesting
administration may examine, in the offices of the requested administration,
information relevant to an offense and make copies thereof or extract
5. Originals of files, documents, and other materials that have been transmitted
shall be returned at the earliest opportunity; rights of the requested Party or of
third parties relating thereto shall remain unaffected.
1. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the requested administration shall
authorize its employees to appear as witnesses in judicial or administrative
proceedings in the territory of the other Party and to produce files, documents,
or other materials or authenticated copies thereof.
2. Where a customs official requested to appear as a witness is entitled to
diplomatic or consular immunity, the requested Party will sympathetically
consider a waiver of immunity under such conditions as it determines to be
COMMUNICATION OF REQUESTS
1. Requests pursuant to this Agreement shall be made in writing directly between
officials designated by the Heads of the respective Customs Administrations.
Information deemed useful for the execution of requests shall accompany the
request. In urgent situations, oral requests may be made and accepted, but
shall be promptly confirmed in writing.
2. Requests shall include:
a. the name of the authority making the request;
b. the nature of the matter or proceedings;
c. a brief statement of the facts and offenses involved;
d. the reason for the request; and
e. the names and addresses of the parties concerned in the matter, if
known, or proceeding.
EXECUTION OF REQUESTS
1. The requested administration shall take all reasonable measures to execute a
request and shall endeavor to secure any official or judicial measure necessary
for that purpose.
2. If the requested administration is not the appropriate agency to execute a
request, it shall promptly transmit it to the appropriate agency and so advise the
3. The requested administration shall conduct, or permit the requesting
administration to conduct, such inspections, verifications, fact-finding
inquiries, or other investigative steps, including the questioning of experts,
witnesses, and persons suspected of having committed an offense, as are
necessary to execute a request.
4. Upon request, the requesting administration shall, be advised of the time and
place of action to be taken in execution of a request.
5. Upon request, the requested Party shall authorize, to the fullest extent possible,
officials of the requesting Party to be present in the territory of the requested
Party to assist in execution of a request.
6. The requested administration shall comply with a request that a certain
procedure be followed to the extent that such procedure is not prohibited by the
domestic law of the requested Party.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION
1. Information obtained under this Agreement shall be afforded the same degree
of confidentiality by the receiving Party that it applies to similar information in
2. Information obtained under this Agreement may only be used or disclosed for
the purposes specified in this Agreement, including use in judicial,
administrative, or investigative proceedings. Such information may be used or
disclosed for other purposes or by other authorities if the supplying Customs
Administration has expressly approved such use or disclosure in writing.
3. Upon request of the requested Party, the requesting Party shall treat
information received as confidential except to the extent necessary to fulfill the
purposes of this Agreement or to the extent that the requested administration
has given its consent. The requested Party shall state its reasons for making a
request for confidentiality.
4. This Article shall not preclude the use or disclosure of information to the
extent that there is an obligation to do so under the Constitution of the
requesting Party in connection with a criminal prosecution. The requesting
Party shall give advance notice of any such proposed disclosure to the
1. Where a requested Party determines that granting assistance would infringe
upon its sovereignty, security, public policy or other substantive national
interest, or would be inconsistent with its domestic law and regulations, it may
refuse or withhold assistance, or may grant it subject to the satisfaction of
certain conditions or requirements.
2. If the requesting administration would be unable to comply if a similar request
were made by the requested administration, it shall draw attention to that fact
in its request. Compliance with such a request shall be at the discretion of the
3. The requested administration may postpone assistance on the ground that it
will interfere with an ongoing investigation, prosecution, or proceeding. In
such instance, the requested administration shall consult with the requesting
administration to determine if assistance can be given subject to such terms or
conditions as the requested administration may require.
4. In the event that a request cannot be complied with, the requesting
administration shall be promptly notified and provided with a statement of the
reasons for postponement or denial of the request. Circumstances that might
be of importance for the further pursuit of the matter shall also be provided to
the requesting administration.
1. The Parties shall normally waive all claims for reimbursement of costs
incurred in the implementation of this Agreement with the exception of
expenses for experts and witnesses, fees of experts, and costs of translators and
interpreters other than government employees.
2. If expenses of a substantial and extraordinary nature are or will be required to
execute the request, the Customs Administrations shall consult to determine
the terms and conditions under which the request will be executed as well as
the manner in which the costs shall be borne.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT
1. The United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury of the United
States of America, and the State Revenue Service Customs Board of the
Republic of Latvia shall:
a. communicate directly for the purpose of dealing with matters arising
out of this Agreement;
b. after consultation, issue any administrative directives necessary for the
implementation of this Agreement; and
c. endeavor by mutual accord to resolve problems or questions arising
from the interpretation or application of the Agreement.
2. Conflicts for which no solutions can be found will be settled by diplomatic
This Agreement shall be applicable to the Customs territories of both Parties as
defined in their national legal and administrative provisions.
ENTRY INTO FORCE AND TERMINATION
1. This Agreement shall enter into force on the first day after the governments
have notified each other in writing through diplomatic channels that the
constitutional or internal requirements for the coming into operation of this
Agreement have been met.
2. Either Party may terminate this Agreement at any time by notification through
diplomatic channels. The termination shall take effect three months from the
date of notification of termination to the other Party. Ongoing proceedings at
the time of termination shall nonetheless be completed in accordance with the
provisions of this Agreement.
3. The Customs Administrations shall meet in order to review this Agreement as
necessary, or at the end of five years from its entry into force, unless they
notify one another in writing that no review is necessary.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, being duly authorized by their respective
Governments, have signed this Agreement.
DONE at Washington, in duplicate, this seventeenth day of April 1998, in the English
and Latvian languages, both texts being equally authentic.
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF LATVIA
NOTE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Pursuant to Public Law 89—497, approved July 8, 1966
(80 Stat. 271; 1 U.S.C. 113)—
“. . .the Treaties and Other International Acts Series issued
under the authority of the Secretary of State shall be competent
evidence . . . of the treaties, international agreements other than
treaties, and proclamations by the President of such treaties and
international agreements other than treaties, as the case may be,
therein contained, in all the courts of law and equity and of maritime
jurisdiction, and in all the tribunals and public offices of the
United States, and of the several States, without any further proof
or authentication thereof.”
Agreement signed at Washington April 17, 1998;
Entered into force July 23, 1999.