Michael Tomenga fulfilled his childhood ambitions -- as would any normal child in America -- by commencing his legal career in the Office of Regulations and Rulings (“ORR”) at U.S. Customs Service Headquarters in Washington DC.  He credits his sister, who was working as an import specialist in NY, for the decision.  Six years later, having worked in all of the substantive areas of ORR and gained experience from details to field offices, he entered private practice.  The ensuing 30 years of gratification from assisting clients large and small with their full gamut of import and export regulatory issues have been diminished only by the annual, heartbreaking failures of the Washington Capitals to win a Stanley Cup as other NHL expansion teams have gone on to establish dynasties.  Fortunately his daughter has introduced him to the successful world of U.S. Women’s National Team soccer.  The added benefit is that they play fewer games than the Caps do in a season making it easier to get work done.

He has nearly 30 years experience in the areas of Customs law, international trade, and export regulation. He counsels and represents clients on the broad range of laws administered by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and export controls administered by the U.S. Commerce Department and the State Department, as well as proposed legislation before Congress and trade policy matters before the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

He has in-depth knowledge of the issues faced by importers and exporters within a myriad of industries whose products include: agricultural commodities, seafood, processed food, drugs, medical devices, apparel and other textile articles, chemicals, pesticides, computers, telecommunications, and networking equipment, industrial and consumer products, manufactured metal products, and toys.

His clients range in size from global Fortune 500 corporations to small and infrequent importers and exporters.

Practice Areas:
International Trade and Customs Law
• Global Customs Compliance
• Export Controls
• Trade Policy & Legislation
• Customs Litigation

Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, JD, 1978
St. Lawrence University, BA, Phi Beta Kappa, 1975

Bar Admissions:
District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. Court of International Trade
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Professional Activities:
Former Treasurer and Vice President of Customs Lawyer’s Association.
Member of the Customs and International Trade Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar and the American Bar Association
Member of the American Association of Exporters and Importers and the Joint Industry Group
AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell

Representative Experience:
Mr. Tomenga’s experience includes:

  • Assisting clients with their strategic planning and compliance with customs classification, value, origin, marking, NAFTA and other preferential trade agreements, and other entry requirements of Customs, the Federal Trade Commission, the Food & Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Counseling and representing clients subject to customs compliance audits (Focused Assessments), interventions and investigations.
  • Assisting clients to gain and maintain membership in the Customs and Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT), the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA), and other security and compliance programs.
  • Obtaining favorable tariff classification for imported merchandise and recovering excess duties tendered to Customs and the proper interest thereon.
  • Advising on origin determinations under the varying origin rules under NAFTA, the Buy American Act, the Trade Agreements Act, and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Assisting clients to obtain drawback of customs duties.
  • Assisting clients to gain Customs protection of their intellectual property rights.
  • Defending clients subject to claims for civil and criminal penalties, liquidated damages claims, and seizures and forfeitures under the customs laws and under laws enforced by customs and administered by other agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Performing import/export compliance due diligence reviews in connection with corporate acquisitions.
  • Counseling clients on compliance with U.S. export control laws.
  • Representing clients before federal courts having jurisdiction over a broad range of disputes with Customs.
  • Assisting clients to obtain temporary duty suspensions for eligible imports.
  • Negotiating settlements with the Bureau of Industrial Security for export compliance violations.
  • Counseling clients on foreign duty rates, marking, labeling, and other import requirements.
  • Counseling clients on recordkeeping requirements, recordkeeping penalties, and alternative recordkeeping systems.
  • Assessing client customs compliance and adequacy of internal controls, advising on remediation of problems including the use of prior disclosures and compliance improvements.
  • Advising clients on the coastwise trade (Jones Act) and fisheries laws administered by Customs.

Co-Author of “U.S. Import Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule”, Lectured on various Customs law topics for The American Association of Exporters and Importers, the Practicing Law Institute, and private trade associations.

Washington DC

Phone: (202) 776-1148

Email: mtomenga@npwdc.com