Maritime & Logistics

Foreign Trade Zone

Cleveland Skyline, Port
Photo by Roger Mastroianni


The Port of Cleveland offers more than maritime services to help area companies compete in the global economy. Our services include an active Foreign-Trade Zone program to better position companies with reduced trade costs.

The Port Authority holds a grant of license as FTZ #40, an area that covers Cuyahoga County and parts of adjacent counties.

The program can be an ideal way for companies that import or export products reduce paperwork, improve cash flow, increase flexibility, and save time and money.

View the Foreign Trade Zone Brochure 



What is a Foreign-trade Zone?

Congress created Foreign-Trade Zones to promote American competitiveness in the global marketplace and to encourage companies to maintain and expand their operations in the United States.

Foreign-Trade Zones are federally-designated areas where domestic and foreign commercial merchandise of every description can be held without being subject to Customs duties and other taxes. In essence the merchandise receives the same Customs treatment it would if it were outside the commerce of the United States.

The program’s tariff and tax relief is designed to lower the costs of U.S.-based operations engaged in international trade, and thereby create and retain the employment and capital investment opportunities that result from those operations.

FTZs are typically located in industrial parks, marine terminals, airports, or warehouses. 


Where is the Port’s FTZ and how is it administered?

Since 1978 the Port Authority has held a grant of license as FTZ #40, an area that covers Cuyahoga County and parts of adjacent counties.

The Port Authority’s zone is administered by the Northeast Ohio Trade & Economic Consortium. NEOTEC is a multi-county regional economic development partnership and also serves as grantee of FTZ  No. 181, which covers more than 5,600 acres and 27 sites in 8 counties.

The Port Authority and NEOTEC jointly market FTZ #40.


What are the benefits of locating in a  Zone?

Duty Deferral: Companies can delay payments on duties until the inventory leaves the Zone.

Duty Reduction: Companies can pay lower duty rate on assembled or manufactured finished products.

Duty Elimination: Companies don’t pay duty on products that are rejected, scrapped, destroyed or exported after arriving in the country as an import.

Direct Delivery: Companies can seek authority to receive product and clear customs within the Zone and as a result bypass congested ports.

Weekly Entry: Companies can reduce merchandise processing fees by combining shipments on one entry filed weekly.

No Import Quotas: Inventory that companies store in a Zone is not subject to import quotas.


Is a Foreign-Trade Zone a good fit for my company?

The program can be an ideal way for companies to reduce paperwork, improve cash flow, increase flexibility, and save time and money if they:  export, import high-value products, import goods in large volume, need expedited  delivery, receive multiple shipments in a week, have products that are subject to quotas or currently apply for duty drawbacks.


What types of companies are generally zone users?

Automotive assembly plants & original equipment manufacturers
Third party logistics firms and public warehouse operators
Pharmaceutical companies
Instruments, electronics, & computer manufacturers
Distribution companies
Oil refineries
Textile companies


How much does participation in an FTZ cost?

The cost of activation depends on the scope of work for each individual site.


What is the application process?

The Port of Cleveland submits an application as the grantee to the Foreign-Trade Zones Board, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Board grants the authority to establish all FTZs. Once approved, companies file an activation request with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  The Port of Cleveland will provide a letter of support. Companies must meet the agency’s requirements for security and inventory control.


How long will it take to obtain FTZ status?

For companies with an immediate need for FTZ status, the review and approval process takes about four to 12 months.


Zone Types

There are two types of zones:

  • General Purpose Zones (GPZ) have  multiple businesses in one location, such as in an  industrial park
  • Sub Zones (SZ)  typically house  one business that occupies more than a city block

The Port of Cleveland currently has only General Purpose Zone sites

Cleveland & Western Suburbs          
Emerald Valley Business Park
Cleveland Business Park
Tow Path Valley Business Park
Harbour Point Business Park
Taylor Woods Commerce Park
Brook Park Road Industrial Park
Snow Road Industrial Park

South Western Suburbs
Strongsville Commerce Center
Progress Drive Business Park
Park Road Industrial Park

Solon Business Park
Broad Oak Business Park
Oakwood Commerce Park

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