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Customs Proposes New Manifest
Reporting Requirements For Air
And Truck Shipments

February 6, 2003

We all are familiar with the Chinese proverb “may you live in interesting times.” Certainly, for the international trade community, 2003 is shaping up to be interesting year.

By now, many of you are aware of Customs’ new 24-hour manifest rule for containerized ocean cargo (see our newsletter of February 3, 2003). The Customs Service, however, has not stopped there. In January of this year, it held a series of town hall type meetings in Washington D.C., to present ideas on obtaining shipment information for other modes of international transportation earlier than currently required. Customs notes that it needs this information sooner, so as to allow it time to analyze the data, and if necessary, prevent the loading of a suspect shipment.

Proposal For Airfreight Destined To the U.S.

In a strawman proposal released January 14th, Customs notes that current regulations in the vessel environment require that the cargo declarations be submitted 24 hours prior to lading. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the air freight business, Customs proposes that the data be supplied 8 hours prior to lading for U.S. inbound courier shipments and 12 hours prior to lading for other U.S. inbound shipments. All air carriers will be required to participate in AAMS at all U.S. ports at which they have direct arrivals. Customs will notify the parties via the AAMS with messages stating whether: (1) certain shipments must be held for security purposes or (2) the data provided is insufficient to make a determination and that the party must provide better data for Customs to analyze.

Proposal For Airfreight Exiting the U.S.

Customs also has a strawman proposal to increase scrutiny of exports using commercial airfreight (both air carriers and air couriers). Under the proposal, Customs would require that all air cargo information for exports be electronically reported to Customs 24 hours prior to loading the cargo for shipment. Export data consists of both commodity information and manifest information. During the strawman meeting, there was a discussion of the possibility of reducing the $2,500 SED/AES exemption-filing requirement, and re-imposing the need for SED/AES filings on shipments to Canada. Justification for these changes is based on a perceived need of the enforcement community to prevent the export of dual-use products to terrorists and other potential adversaries.

Additional proposals for truck and rail, both inbound and outbound, may be found by visiting Customs web page on the submission of advanced electronic information.

According to Customs, the strawman proposals are a starting point to facilitate discussion with the trade community. The U.S. Customs Service is seeking feedback not only on these proposals, but also alternative recommendations from the trade, and has have extended the comment period until the close of business on February 18, 2003.

Customs has requested that comments be sent via email to by close of business February 18, 2003. To assist Customs with reviewing your comments, in the subject line of your email please state the specific mode of transportation - air, truck, rail, or sea - and specify whether Inbound or Outbound.

Importers, carriers and other effected parties may also wish to contact their trade associations and government representative regarding the proposals.

George R. Tuttle, III, is an attorney with the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle in San Francisco. The information in this article is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with respect to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered such.


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