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Types of Foreign Trade Zones
There are two types of foreign trade zones. A general-purpose zone (GPZ) is established for multiple activities by multiple users. A general-purpose zone must be operated as a public utility and must be located within 60 statute miles or 90 minutes driving time from the out limits of a U.S. Customs Port of Entry. FTZ projects may consist of one or multiple sites, e.g., a single building, an industrial park, a deep water port, or an international airport. While activities including storage, inspection, and distribution are permitted at all FTZs, other activities including processing or manufacturing require special permission from the Foreign Trade Zones Board.

In instances where a firms wants foreign trade zone status for its own plant or facility, and when the existing general-purpose zone cannot accommodate the firm’s proposed activity, the designation of “subzone” may be granted. There is no legal difference in the types of activity that may be undertaken in GPZs or subzones. Typically, subzones are designated for an individual company’s manufacturing operations. Subzones must be located so that Customs & Border Protection can fulfill its proper oversight of functions at the proposed location of the subzone.