PROJECT UPDATE [Oct. 19, 2020]

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel has received feedback from a number of different sources and is still awaiting feedback from others that have indicated concern. The OLRC is convinced that Title 19 is badly in need of an updated structure, but does not want to implement one that would cause undue difficulty to those charged with its administration. Thus, the OLRC will pause on the execution of the reorganization plan (originally scheduled for the spring of 2021) to reconsider both the reorganized Title 19 structure and enumeration and the timing of the reorganization. The OLRC will provide ample notice of a revamped structure and timing of any future reorganization.


The Office of the Law Revision Counsel is responsible for maintaining and publishing the United States Code, which is a codification of the general and permanent laws of the United States organized into titles based on subject matter. An integral part of producing the United States Code is determining where new laws should be placed, a process known as classification.

Classification is a challenging task because new law must be classified not only to fit logically within existing Code categories, but also to allow room for future development. Over time, due to the enactment of new laws and amendments, some areas of the Code become less organized and harder to navigate.

Current Title 19, Customs Duties, was an original title in the 1926 edition of the Code, and it had only three chapters. By the 1934 edition of the Code, two additional chapters appeared, one of which was the Tariff Act of 1930. Since 1934, 25 additional chapters have been added to the Code. Most of the new chapters - including the Trade Act of 1974 - have been added since the authorization by Congress in 1962 of a Special Trade Representative (the predecessor of the Office of the United States Trade Representative), who was to assume responsibility for the execution of international trade policy. Major statutory developments in the international trade area since 1962 have included trade promotion authority; the approval of the World Trade Organization and other Uruguay Rounds agreements in 1994; and the implementation of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements between the United States and other countries. The most recent multilateral free trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, entered into force on July 1, 2020.

The current Title 19 lacks internal organization among its chapters apart from chronological order without regard to subject matter. This arrangement of material does not reflect the way that statutory law has developed since the initial publication of the Code, particularly with respect to the increased importance of laws relating to international trade.

The new Title 19 - renamed as Customs and International Trade - will enable general and permanent laws related to customs and international trade to be better organized and maintained. Using an act-centric organization framework, the structure of the new title reflects the structure of included acts where possible. The reorganization does not include provisions that are better retained in their current locations in other titles of the Code as part of the coverage of the following subjects:

  • Organizational matters related to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security (classified to Title 6, Domestic Security)
  • Export promotion (classified to Title 15, Commerce and Trade)
  • Export control, generally (classified to Title 22, Foreign Relations and Intercourse)
  • Export control related to national defense (classified to Title 50, War and National Defense)


Disposition table for provisions transferred to new Title 19

Section-level outline for new Title 19


Questions and comments may be directed to:

Office of the Law Revision Counsel

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Email: [email protected]