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Electronic Filing of Certificates of Compliance at Entry to be Focus of CPSC Workshop

Monday, July 07, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will hold a workshop Sept. 18 at its headquarters in Bethesda, Md., on a proposal to require certificates of compliance for regulated imported consumer products to be filed electronically with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the time of filing the entry (or the entry and entry summary if filed together). The workshop was requested by dozens of business associations concerned that this requirement “is a significant change to current supply chain operations and will have a major adverse impact on businesses’ operations.” A final rule containing this and other changes to the regulations on certificates of compliance has been delayed to allow for further input on what has proven to be a controversial topic.

Regulated consumer products must be certified as compliant with CPSC regulations by the manufacturer (including an importer) and the private labeler of the product, if applicable. A certificate of conformity must accompany the applicable product or shipment of products. In May 2013 the CPSC proposed that to satisfy this requirement certificates for regulated finished products that are imported for consumption or warehousing must be filed electronically with CBP at the time of filing the entry (or entry and entry summary if filed together). The proposed rule also sought comment on allowing certificates to be filed at a time earlier than entry, at manifest. The CPSC proposed that electronic filing be done in the form of an image, a PDF file or data elements that can be uploaded into CBP’s database and electronically provided to CPSC for review. The Commission recognized that electronic filing would require software upgrades that may need to be completed in stages by CBP, CPSC and stakeholders.

The CPSC’s goal for the upcoming workshop is to receive practical and procedural information from stakeholders about the electronic filing of certificates at entry into CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment. Among other things, the CPSC will provide background on its pilot-scale RAM (risk assessment management) system and its consistency with the single window approach for import data and risk management set forth in Executive Order 13659 (concerning implementation of the International Trade Data System). This workshop will also provide CBP with an opportunity to discuss ACE as well as its tests of the Document Image System and the participating government agency message set.

The CPSC is requesting that stakeholder comments and presentations at the workshop address specified topics, including the following.

- current certificate and import procedures, including how manufacturers and importers are meeting the requirement that certificates accompany products or shipments

- procedures and processes for creating and populating certificates that may influence implementation of an electronic certificate requirement

- challenges that certifiers encounter, in particular customs brokers who also serve as importers of record, in using the Component Part Rule, which allows certifiers to rely on the testing or certification of another party to issue a required certificate

- current challenges in meeting certificate requirements that may be resolved, minimized or exacerbated if an electronic filing requirement for certificates were implemented

- whether the CPSC or stakeholders would benefit from participating in CBP’s tests of the DIS and the PGA message set (noting that document imaging does not provide the same efficiencies as data elements because the review of document images would be difficult to automate)

- challenges that may be faced using the Automated Broker Interface to transfer certificate data to CBP

-whether stakeholders require more flexibility in organizing certificates to meet an electronic filing requirement, including whether and how certificate data can be streamlined to meet the needs of electronic filing on a per-line item imported basis

- any practical and logistical problems that may be faced in implementing electronic filing of certificates as well as potential solutions

- approaches to phasing in an electronic filing requirement (e.g., by port of entry, regulated product, Harmonized Tariff Schedule number or entry type)

- what, if any, exceptions from an electronic filing requirement should be allowed

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