CUSTOMS PROPOSES MANDATORY OUTBOUND MANIFEST
By October, vessel operators may be required to file export cargo manifests to U.S. Customs 24 hours prior to loading on ships in the nation’s ports.
The 2002 Trade Act requires the agency to develop procedures for vessel operators to electronically file their outbound cargo manifests. The agency presented a “strawman” proposal to the vessel operators at a meeting in Washington on Jan. 23.
Currently, vessel operators can voluntarily file outbound manifests details through the agency’s Automated Export System Vessel Transportation Module.
“Vessel carriers transmit booking information as far in advance of sailing as practical, but no later than 72 hours prior to departure for all information that is available at that time,” the agency said. “Bookings received later than 72 hours prior to departure must be transmitted as received.”
Customs uses the booking information for targeting high-risk containers before they leave the country. The agency is interested in stopping illegal high-tech exports, weapons and their components, and laundered money.
Customs proposes to change the timing of manifest transmission from within 10 days post departure to 24 hours prior to departure. The agency expects that the content of messages, such as booking, receipt of booking, departure and manifest, currently transmitted by vessel carriers to remain mostly the same. “There may be changes in the sequence of the message to allow pre-departure reporting,” Customs said.
So far, nine carriers use the AES Vessel Transportation Module. There are more than 150 vessel carriers that must move to the system by the Oct. 1, 2003 deadline set by the 2002 Trade Act.
Customs encourages the vessel industry to send comments regarding the strawman proposal by e-mail at email@example.com within the next 10 business days.
“We will be influenced by your comments,” said Charles Bartoldus, director of border targeting and analysis for Customs’ Office of Field Operations, to vessel industry executives. “We take them seriously.”
At this time, Customs will not mandate that non-vessel-operating common carriers file their outbound manifests in the AES Vessel Transportation Module. However, the agency is expected to require NVOs to maintain lists of ITNs (Internal Transaction Numbers) and correct exemption statements, cross-referenced with their bills of ladings, and make them available to the agency upon request 24 hours prior to loading.