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US Customs expands services for-hire program

Assistant Commissioner Todd Owen said additional reimbursable services agreements help Customs and Border Protection facilitate commerce during COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has tentatively picked 10 locations across the country, which include mostly airports, for its reimbursable services program.

The program allows private sector and public agencies to reimburse CBP for expanded services for incoming cargo traffic and international traveler arrivals. The agency expects this program to assist with the supply chain upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Reimbursable services agreements help CBP facilitate the cross-border movement of food, fuel, workers and life-saving medicines that are needed to protect our nation,” said Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of Field Operations, in a statement.

The 10 entities, which applied to CBP for the reimbursable services agreements in October 2019, were subject to thorough vetting, the agency said.

“Although the evaluation process for the current agreements began prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the agreements are nevertheless part of CBP’s multi-layered approach to securing and facilitating essential cross-border commercial activity,” a CBP spokesman told American Shipper.

One of the 10 recently approved sites with a cargo processing focus includes FedEx Ground’s facility at Port Huron, Michigan. Qantas Airways was also approved for the CBP program at its facilities in Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The Reimbursable Services Program was authorized by the 2002 Homeland Security Act and amended by the 2016 Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act to allow CBP to provide new or enhanced services on a reimbursable basis by creating partnerships with the private sector and government entities.

Industry users of the services for-hire program include customs brokers, carriers, air and marine terminal operators, and seaport and airport authorities. According to CBP, the program has been expanded to 212 stakeholders, covering 148 U.S. ports of entry in 20 field offices, since its inception in 2013.

Reimbursable services under this authority include customs, agricultural processing, border security services, immigration inspections and support services at ports of entry. The services do not replace existing CBP services at those locations

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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.

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