Applying for a Specialty Sugar Certificate

Specialty Sugar Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ)

The specialty sugar TRQ established by USDA is part of the refined sugar TRQ. There is no specialty sugar TRQ for raw sugar. Therefore, specialty sugars, which otherwise meet the definition in the regulation but are below 99.5 degrees polarity, do NOT qualify for the specialty sugar TRQ.

To be eligible for the specialty sugar TRQ, the sugar must be classified in the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) under subheadings 1701.91.10.00, 1701.99.10.10, 1702.90.10.00, or 2106.90.44.00. Most common specialty sugars are classified in HTS 1701.99.10.10.

Click here for the definition of specialty sugar. (61 FR 26785, May 29, 1996)
Organic sugar was later added to the list of specialty sugars. (61 FR 42935, August 19, 1996) 

Fiscal Year 2015 Specialty Sugar TRQ

On September 2, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 specialty sugar TRQ at 117,568 short tons (106,656 metric tons). View USDA press release.

USDA will administer the FY 2015 specialty sugar TRQ (metric tons) in five tranches, which will open as follows:

  • Tranche 1 – Opens Oct. 10, 2014 – 1,656 
  • Tranche 2 – Opens Oct. 24, 2014 – 38,850 
  • Tranche 3 – Opens Jan. 9, 2015 –  22,050 
  • Tranche 4 – Opens April 10, 2015 – 22,050   
  • Tranche 5 – Opens July 10, 2015 – 22,050 

The second, third, fourth, and fifth tranches will be reserved for organic sugar and other specialty sugars not currently produced commercially in the United States or reasonably available from domestic sources.

Specialty Sugar Certificate

This link shows a sample specialty sugar certificate
This link provides lists of recent recipients of specialty sugar certificates

A specialty sugar certificate valid for that fiscal year must accompany sugar imported (entered) into U.S. Customs territory under the specialty sugar TRQ.

To benefit from the lower tariff, an importer or the importer's agent must present a specialty sugar certificate, valid for that tranche, to the appropriate Customs official when the specialty sugar enters the Customs territory of the United States.

Entry of specialty sugar within the TRQ shall be allowed only in conformity with the conditions and limitations stated in the certificate.

Issuance of a certificate does not guarantee entry of any specific shipment of specialty sugar at a zero or nominal rate of duty. A certificate only permits entry of such sugar until the TRQ fills, or the fiscal year ends.

This website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection contains a weekly report on the status of U.S. tariff rate quotas: Commodity Status Report for Tariff Rate Quotas

How to Apply for a Specialty Sugar Certificate

To apply for a specialty sugar certificate, fax, email, or courier the following information:

  1. The name and street address on the company’s letterhead of the applicant, an importer with a U.S. place of business 
  2. A statement of the anticipated country of origin and quantity of specialty sugar(s) to be imported 
  3. The appropriate eight-digit HTS subheading number 
  4. A description of the specialty sugar and its intended use that the importer will compete to enter during the period of the certificate, including the manufacturer's or exporter's usual trade name or designation 
  5. Sufficient evidence, such  as photographs of the product and its packaging, to permit the Certifying Authority to make a reasonable determination that such sugars are specialty sugars within the definition of specialty sugar 
  6. The name of the anticipated consumer of the specialty sugars, if known at time of application 
  7. The anticipated date of entry, if known at time of application 
  8. An importer of organic sugar must provide a copy of the USDA-accredited certification(s) for their foreign suppliers covered in its application


Applications may be submitted three ways:

  • Faxed: 202-720-0876
  • Email: sugars@fas.usda.gov
  • Mailed to:
    Import Policies and Export Reporting Division 
    Office of Trade Programs
    FAS/USDA Room 5526, Stop 1021 
    Washington, DC 20250

For more information on the federal regulations governing specialty sugar imports into the United States, call 202-720-2194.