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CBP seeks to expand e-commerce pilot participation

The Express Association of America said additional industry participants in Customs and Border Protection’s Section 321 pilot will “enhance” the agency’s capability to target illicit products.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is seeking to expand industry participation in its electronic pilot program to collect advance data related to e-commerce shipments with import values of less than the $800 de minimis. 

The so-called Section 321 E-Commerce Data Pilot was announced by CBP on July 23 and started Aug. 22. The pilot will operate for a year.

Section 321 of the 2015 Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) raised the de minimis for package shipments from $200 to $800.

“CBP faces significant challenges in targeting Section 321 shipments, while still maintaining the clearance speeds the private sector has come to expect,” the agency said in a Sept. 13 Federal Register notice announcing its intent to expand industry participation in the Section 321 E-Commerce Data Pilot. “This is because CBP does not receive adequate advance information in order to effectively and efficiently assess the security risk of the approximately 1.8 million Section 321 shipments that arrive each day.”

The agency said it’s conducting the Section 321 pilot to “determine if requiring additional data and involving non-regulated entities will enable CBP to address the threats and complexities resulting from the vast increase in Section 321 shipments, while facilitating cross-border e-commerce.”

CBP started the pilot with nine eligible e-commerce carriers, customs brokers, freight forwarders and online marketplaces. To participate, these companies must electronically transmit certain data elements related to their shipments to the agency in advance of their arrival in the U.S.

Michael Mullen, executive director of the Washington, D.C-based Express Association of America, which represents FedEx, UPS and DHL, said he is “pleased to see that CBP is expanding the 321 E-Commerce Data Pilot to allow more e-commerce entities to provide information that may assist the agency’s targeting efforts.

“As the only currently regulated party in the e-commerce supply chain, express operators have long been the sole source of information on 321 shipments. The data other entities can provide will supplement that received from express operators and enhance CBP’s capability to interdict potentially illicit products,” he said. 

Separately, CBP in late September will initiate in its Automated Commercial Environment test for de minimis entry filings, known as the ACE Entry Type 86. The test will allow importers with Section 321 shipments which are subject to PGA (partner government agency) data requirements to use a Section 321 de minimis entry process. 

“The express industry believes the test could be improved by including as an option the ACE Cargo Release process which express operators have been using successfully for many years to flag 321 shipments for PGA review,” Mullen said.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1) and UPS (No. 2).

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.