American ShipperShippingTrade and ComplianceWarehouse

Carriers should be liable in bond for multimodal shipments, COAC says

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee, a trade advisory committee for CBP, held its quarterly meeting in Buffalo this week and approved a batch of recommendations.

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) on Aug. 21 approved a recommendation for Customs and Border Protection to allow carriers to assume liability for initial in-bond shipments, where the initial in-bond was applied in another mode.

COAC also recommended to allow for confirmation of the appropriate arrival/export by the assuming carrier.

Further, COAC recommended that CBP develop written guidelines for electronic reporting of diversion of in-bond cargo, including handling of entry filings for shipments that have been diverted.

COAC also recommended that CBP require all facilities that handle in-bond cargo to automate “to the extent necessary to allow visibility into the transfer of liability of cargo and subsequent closure of in-bonds at the respective facilities.”

“A lot of truckers … walk around with paper in bond documentation, and hand those into the facility, and they immediately lose all visibility,” said Michael Young, member of the COAC Secure Trade Lanes Subcommittee and OOCL vice president of business process and system. “So we’re looking at making sure that during the process of enforcement, that we try to make sure we also try better efficiency in terms of creating better automation.”

CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) Director Jim Swanson during the meeting said CBP’s forthcoming in-bond regulations will adopt a “dramatically” changed focus from the agency’s current regulations.

Current in-bond regulations are “in desperate need of modernization,” as they are more narrowly based on physical control of goods, regulating the physical movement of goods, and physical reporting of the goods, he noted.

“Largely, in bond is a revenue issue,” Swanson said. “And how do we show auditors that we have control over collecting the correct revenue, that things are not escaping our control by going in bond? I think we’ve made a great start here.”

CBP ultimately hopes to adopt process, automation, and regulatory changes regarding in-bond shipments, he said.

CBP started to collect mandatory automated submissions of in-bond information on July 29.

COAC also adopted a recommendation for CBP to allow two narrow categories of air shipments to be exempted from the current intended in-bond requirements for electronic arrival/export until such time the automation can accommodate such shipments:

  • Cargo originating in the U.S. from either bonded warehouses or foreign-trade zones that is subsequently exported by air; and,
  • Cargo arriving in the U.S. on a mode of transport other than air and is subsequently transferred to air for export or movement to a U.S. port of entry.

COAC also recommends that CBP provide the bonded carrier, in addition to electronic in-bond requests filed via the Automated Broker Interface, with visibility of any in-bond hold before the report of arrival at the destination port.

“Since carriers are no longer required to physically report to the port office, visibility is required for the real time routing of goods when an exam is requested by the port of destination after normal business hours,” the recommendation says.

Brian Bradley

Based in Washington, D.C., Brian covers international trade policy for American Shipper and FreightWaves. In the past, he covered nuclear defense, environmental cleanup, crime, sports, and trade at various industry and local publications.