U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says its new automated tool allows importers and exporters to apply and receive approval for their vessel manifest confidentiality requests from the agency within 24 hours.
Before CBP deployed the new online application, shippers had to submit their confidentiality requests to keep their names and addresses off the public manifest record to the agency by mail, fax or email, which often required the agency 60 to 90 days to process.
In addition, CBP said the new online confidentiality application for manifests allows companies and individuals to input all applicable name variations as part of their request. “This will enhance the requesting party’s ability to ensure that a name provided matches the name entered electronically in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE),” the agency said.
CBP’s vessel manifest data, which is compiled daily, is available to the public for purchase and supplied on CD-ROMs. These CD-ROMs are available for specific days or on a subscription basis. Those importers or exporters that have requested confidential treatment of their shipment data in the manifests are not included.
The vessel manifest data includes vessel country codes, names and numbers; port of unlading; estimated arrival dates; bill of lading numbers; foreign ports of lading; manifest quantities and units; weight and weight unit; shipper names and addresses (unless confidential); consignee names and addresses (unless confidential); notify party names and addresses (unless confidential); piece counts; descriptions of goods; container numbers; and seal numbers.
Confidentiality certifications for importers and exporters must be renewed every two years from the date of validation.
Exporter members of the Washington, D.C.-based Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) have pressed both CBP and the Census Bureau for years to make the process of requesting and receiving vessel manifest data confidentiality simpler and quicker.
AgTC Executive Director Peter Friedmann said U.S. agriculture product exporters are aware that public inbound and outbound vessel manifest data obtained from CBP may be obtained by foreign governments, then shared with their domestic industries for competitive purposes. “This data can put our American exporters at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.