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Nationwide (PUBLIC AUCTION) ends 7/23/2024 11 AM ET ENTER AUCTION

Texas (SALVAGE DEALER) ends 7/23/2024 12 PM ET ENTER AUCTION

Arizona (SALVAGE DEALER) ends 7/23/2024 1 PM ET ENTER AUCTION

California (SALVAGE DEALER) ends 7/23/2024 2 PM ET ENTER AUCTION


The U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), a cornerstone of national security and economic prosperity, has a rich history that extends beyond its primary mission. Among its lesser-known facets is the intriguing world of auctions, a practice that not only contributes to the agency's funding but also offers a unique window into the vast array of goods that enter and sometimes attempt to bypass the United States' borders. Let's explore the captivating auction history of the U.S. Customs & Border Protection, highlighting its significance, evolution, and the impact it has on both the economy and collectors.

The Genesis of CBP Auctions

The tradition of auctioning unclaimed or seized goods dates back to the early days of U.S. customs enforcement. Initially, these auctions were primarily aimed at offsetting the costs associated with the storage and disposal of goods that were either abandoned at ports or confiscated due to non-compliance with U.S. laws. Over time, these auctions have become a significant aspect of the CBP's operations, offering an eclectic mix of items ranging from everyday vehicles to exotic items and even rare artifacts.

Possible Reasons for Seizure

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can seize items for a variety of reasons,

primarily related to enforcing laws and regulations at U.S. entry points.

Here are the key reasons why items might be seized:

  1. Prohibited Items: Items that are not allowed to enter the U.S., such as certain drugs, firearms not permitted under federal regulations, absinthe, certain fruits, meats, or plants that could carry pests or diseases, and counterfeit items.

  2. Intellectual Property Rights Violations: This includes counterfeit and pirated goods that infringe on copyrights, trademarks, or patents.

  3. Safety and Health Regulations: Items that do not comply with U.S. safety standards or regulations, such as certain chemicals, medications without prescriptions, or unsafe consumer goods.

  4. Agricultural Restrictions: Importation of some agricultural products that could introduce foreign pests or diseases to the U.S. agriculture.

  5. Cultural Artifacts and Antiquities: Items that may be considered stolen cultural property from other countries, or are imported without proper documentation under international treaties.

  6. Monetary Instruments: Failure to declare monetary instruments over $10,000 or related violations of money laundering laws.

  7. Failure to Declare: Goods not declared at customs or falsely declared can be seized.

  8. Duties and Taxes Evasion: Items that are under-valued or misclassified to evade customs duties or taxes.

  9. Regulatory Compliance: Items that fail to comply with other specific regulations set by other federal agencies (e.g., FDA, USDA).

  10. Protected Wildlife: Importing or exporting wildlife or plants that are protected under the Endangered Species Act and other international agreements without proper permits.

  11. Drug Enforcement: Illegal drugs, including narcotics and certain prescription medications not legally obtained, are routinely seized.

  12. Weapons and Ammunition: Items that violate U.S. weapons laws, including certain types of firearms, knives, and other weapons, as well as ammunition, can be confiscated.


CBP’s authority to seize items helps enforce these rules and protect the country’s economy, health, and security.

How CBP Auctions Work

The process is straightforward yet governed by strict regulations to ensure fairness and legality. Goods become eligible for auction after they have been abandoned, seized, or forfeited to the government due to various reasons, including failure to pay duties, illegal importation, or violation of import regulations. Before an item is auctioned, it undergoes a thorough appraisal to determine its value and legality for sale. The auctions are open to the public and take place online, offering a transparent platform for interested buyers.

The Economic Impact

CBP auctions are not just about disposing of unclaimed or seized goods; they play a significant role in the economy. The revenue generated from these auctions contributes to the U.S. Treasury, thereby indirectly benefiting taxpayers and contributing to the funding of critical government functions. Additionally, these auctions offer businesses and individuals the opportunity to purchase goods at potentially lower prices, providing an economic boost and fostering a unique secondary market.

Notable Auctions and Items

Over the years, CBP auctions have seen a vast array of items go under the hammer, some of which have garnered significant attention due to their rarity, value, or unusual nature. From vintage cars seized in drug raids to rare wildlife products confiscated at borders, these auctions reflect the diverse nature of goods that flow through the United States. One of the most notable auctions involved the sale of a rare, ancient artifact that was repatriated to its country of origin, showcasing the CBP's role in preserving cultural heritage.

The Future of CBP Auctions

As technology evolves, so too does the format and reach of CBP auctions. Online platforms such as those offered by Apple Auctioneering Co have expanded the audience, allowing global participation and increasing the competitiveness of bidding. The future of these auctions lies in leveraging technology to enhance transparency, efficiency, and accessibility, ensuring that the CBP continues to provide economic benefits while maintaining the integrity of U.S. borders.

The auction history of the U.S. Customs & Border Protection is a testament to the agency's multifaceted role in American society. Beyond its primary mission of protecting the borders, these auctions offer a unique glimpse into the complexities of global trade and the efforts required to regulate it. For collectors, investors, and the curious, CBP auctions are a source of treasure and intrigue, showcasing items that tell a thousand stories of journeys, dreams, and occasionally, misadventures.


Whether you're a seasoned bidder or new to the world of auctions, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection auctions provide a fascinating insight into the ever-evolving landscape of trade and security. As we look forward to the future of these auctions, one thing is clear: they will continue to captivate and contribute to the rich tapestry of American economic and cultural life.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized vehicle auctions conducted along our nation's Southern border.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Auctions

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Logo

How to register:

  1. Select the auction you wish to participate in.

  2. In the menu bar, create an account by clicking "Login / New Bidder" or by clicking "Register to Bid" button. Click the "New Bidder? Click Here" button. Enter your email address when prompted. A new window will pop up instructing you to complete your account information. The username and password that is created will be utilized for all future online auctions. Important: The information provided when setting up the bidder account will be the information automatically assigned on the title work.

  3. Once your account has been created select the auction that you wish to participate in by clicking on the title of the auction or by clicking the "View Catalog" button. Click on the "Register to Bid" button. Enter your user name and password then accept the Terms & Conditions. You are now ready to place your online bids. 

How to place a bid:

  1. Once registered, select the lot you wish to place a bid on. You may click the "Bid (amount here)" button for a one time bid, or enter your "Maximum Auto Bid" by selecting the lot and physically typing in the highest you are willing to bid for that item. 

  2. Technical bidding details to understand and consider: 

  3. Soft Close: All lots end with a "Soft Close." A "Soft Close" means that if any bid is placed within the last three (3) minutes of the close of the Auction, the bid will automatically extend the closing time an additional three (3) minutes. Example: If a bid is placed at two (2) minutes before close, it will extend the closing time to five (5) minutes. This feature protects Bidders from being outbid without the opportunity to be notified, and therefore allows a Bidder to place another bid before the close of the Auction.

  4. Placing a "Maximum Auto Bid": Please be aware that when placing your "Maximum Bid", the website will bid on the Bidder's behalf at the preset bid increment until the Bidder’s "Maximum bid" is exceeded. At that point, the Bidder will be notified that they have been outbid (if that option is selected when registering). High Bidder will only pay one increment more than the competing Bidder. Please watch the Auction’s closing time stop-clock to determine exactly when the lot will close.

"I've placed a bid, but it says Pending." Now what?

Pending Bids are bids that are placed that are not immediately accepted or put into effect by the Auction Company. Typical reasons for pending bids are as follows:

  • First-Time Bidder: New accounts or first-time bidders that have never participated in our auctions will be thoroughly analyzed and vetted. 

  • Bidder Reputation: We are part of a nationwide network of auctioneers that utilize the Hibid bidding platform. Hibid has developed a rating system for Bidders to protect auctioneers. Bidders accrue points placing bids and registering for auctions. Any time a Bidder is permanently declined by an auctioneer, the bidder loses 20 points. If a bidder has a negative score, he or she may not be able to bid with other auctioneers on the Hibid platform.

  • Dealer Only Salvage Auctions: Additional bidding qualifications on assets offered with salvage/ dismantler notations must be met prior to the auction closing. Salvage dealers that wish to bid on these assets must submit a current copy of their State issued Salvage Dealer license for review. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT LICENSE. Once approved, the Auction Company will update the Bidder's account and any bids that are Pending will be approved/ accepted. This must take place prior to the auction closing. These bidding privileges will remain in effect until the expiration date on the license. It is the Bidder's responsibility to resubmit a new license upon renewal to avoid Pending bids.

  • Asset Requires a Deposit: When a deposit is required, see Section (6) of the Terms & Conditions for step-by-step deposit instructions.


You've won! What to expect once the auction closes:

  1. Once all items in the auction close, email notifications will be sent (from to all participating bidders with the final results. For each lot the bidder bids on it will list "successful" or "outbid." The auction company will be seeking final approval from the U.S. Treasury on all lots at this time. 

  2. Once approval is received, high bidders will receive an email (from with payment instructions and our bank account information (options: wire, bank deposit, or cashier's check overnight). Please check your email (and junk mail) periodically after receiving this notice. Payment must be RECEIVED within 48 hours of acceptance.

  3. Once payment is received, the auction company will execute the title documents and email them to the buyers via DocuSign for electronic signature. 

  4. Once documents are signed by the buyer, Property Release documents will be emailed to the buyer as well as the storage vendor.

  5. Once Property Release email received,  buyer must immediately contact storage vendor to arrange property removal. 

  6. Original title documents will be mailed to buyers. Once originals title documents received, originals need to be processed at local DMV. 

Please note: these assets will remain in the name of the defendant in which they were seized, until the titles are processed with the state. It is very important that the titles be transferred with your local tax office immediately upon receipt.  

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