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CBP Won’t Relax Requirements for Vessels Diverting to U.S. Due to Vancouver Port Strike

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a notice indicating that any vessels or cargo diverted to northwest U.S. ports from the port of Vancouver, Canada, due to the ongoing truck driver strike there will be subject to all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. CBP notes that some companies are requesting diversion to discharge cargo for delivery to Vancouver via truck or rail, while others are requesting diversion to deliver cargo to a U.S. destination.

CBP states that for such vessels or cargo diverting to U.S. ports, all elements of the Trade Act will be enforced and cargo shipments that do not meet Trade Act requirements may be subject to enforcement. All other laws and regulations enforced by CBP will be applicable to these shipments and the transporting conveyances as well. Importers are reminded that shipments must also comply with the laws of partner government agencies and will be subject to enforcement actions if these requirements are not met.

According to CBP, the current regulatory requirements for importer security filing should still be followed. An ISF-10 is required for cargo entering U.S. commerce, but an ISF-5 is sufficient for cargo that is transiting the U.S. (immediate entry, transportation and export, etc.) If the cargo was originally identified as freight remaining on board and is intended to be discharged and moved to Canada, the original ISF-5 for that cargo will satisfy the ISF filing requirements.

All diverted cargo is subject to normal CBP processes, including targeting, enforcement examination and large-scale non-intrusive inspection at the actual port of discharge. For cargo that would have been subject to a “DO NOT LOAD” order had the information been transmitted 24 hours prior to lading in the foreign port, CBP may deny permission for the carrier to unlade the cargo. Under no circumstances will unscreened cargo be discharged in the U.S.

CBP adds that for vessels that meet all of the following conditions, the port director will make a case-by-case determination for the carriers that will be allowed to discharge.

- the carrier has transmitted cargo information to CBP via the Automated Commercial Environment reflecting the actual U.S. port of unlading (diversion port)

- CBP officers have had the opportunity to screen the cargo and none of the shipments are determined to be of such high risk that discharge would not be authorized

- the port director has approved the carrier’s request for the diversion, which must be submitted via a CBP Form 3171

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