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Practice Areas

CBP Issues Guidelines on Test of Centers of Excellence and Expertise

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has posted to its Web site a document setting forth guidelines on the agency’s ongoing test of its Centers of Excellence and Expertise. This document lists the responsibilities and procedures for accounts participating in the CEE test as well as their brokers, agents and filers.

CEE Organization. Industries covered by the existing and pending CEEs are as follows. Each center has been assigned a unique team code that will serve as the primary indicator that the authority to process a particular entry summary or post-summary activity belongs with the center.

Electronics CEE (Los Angeles, code 007) – information technology, integrated circuits, automated data processing equipment and consumer electronics

Pharmaceuticals, Health and Chemicals CEE (New York, code 001) – pharmaceuticals, health-related equipment and products of the chemical and allied industries

Automotive and Aerospace CEE (Detroit, code 003) – automotive, aerospace and other transportation equipment and related parts industries

Petroleum, Natural Gas and Minerals CEE (Houston, code 006) – petroleum, natural gas, petroleum-related products, minerals and mining industries

Base Metals CEE (Chicago, code 005) – steel, steel mill products, ferrous and nonferrous metal and similar industries

Industrial and Manufacturing Materials CEE (Buffalo code 009) – plastics, polymers, rubber, leather, wood, paper, stone, glass, precious stones and precious metals, and similar industries

Machinery CEE (Laredo, code 010) – tools, machine tools, production equipment, instruments and similar industries

Agriculture and Prepared Products CEE (Miami, code 002) – agriculture, aquaculture, animal products, vegetable products, prepared foods, beverages, alcohol, tobacco and similar industries

Apparel, Footwear and Textiles CEE (San Francisco, code 004) – wearing apparel, footwear, textile mill products and similar industries

Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising CEE (Atlanta, code 008) – household goods, consumer products and similar industries as well as mass merchandisers of products typically sold for home use

CEE Responsibilities. The centers will perform all validation activities, protests and post-entry amendment/post-summary correction reviews. The centers may also process prior disclosure validations for participating accounts if the disclosing party chooses to submit the disclosure to its designated center instead of the port of entry of the disclosed violation. Protests currently handled by the Office of International Trade/Regulations & Rulings, such as requests for further reviews and requests to void the denial of protests, will remain there. Centers may collaborate to resolve issues for accounts that cross industry assignments. The scope and functions of the centers will expand incrementally until the operational trade functions that traditionally reside with the ports of entry are transitioned to the centers.

Participating Account Responsibilities. Participating accounts should implement processes and procedures to transition to an automated and paperless environment in order to realize the benefits of an industry-focused and account-based processing concept. Because the centers operate in a virtual environment, participating accounts are strongly encouraged to make full use of existing automated tools and systems such as ACE for transmission of entry summaries, the ACE portal for transmission of supporting documentation and the Document Image System for transmission of invoices. In addition, it is highly recommended that each participating account notify its filer of its acceptance into a center, as this will affect the filing and submission of entries and related documents.

Filer Responsibilities. Filers will continue to assist their clients in meeting import and export requirements. For post-entry activities where they would normally interact with the port, filers will now interact with the appropriate center on behalf of their participating account.

Release/Entry. The release and entry procedures for participating accounts remain the same and will be processed by the applicable port of entry. Participating accounts do not need to change their existing shipping patterns and may continue to import through the ports of entry as they have in the past, regardless of their status as a CEE participant. Participating accounts should continue to submit any necessary documentation for release purposes and adhere to current regulations.

Entry Summary. Entry summaries for participating accounts will continue to be submitted through ACS or ACE and will not be required to change the respective port of entry. CEEs will process applicable entry summaries for participating accounts regardless of the port of entry or commodity. Participating accounts or their filers should also continue to file EIP/RLF entry summaries as usual and the CEE will process accordingly.

If a “docs required” message is received for an entry summary, the necessary documentation will be transmitted to the center via the ACE portal, the DIS or the center’s email address. The date and time of this message will serve as the functional equivalent of the physical date and time stamp at the port office. The required documents and the regulatory or statutory timeframes for submission have not changed.

Revenue Collection. Payments will continue to be submitted to the respective port of entry for all entry/entry summaries, non-ABI entry summaries, ABI non-statement (ABI/N) and ABI statement (ABI/S). Those participants or filers that use periodic monthly statement processes may continue to do so. Although any “docs required” will be submitted directly to the CEE, a cashier/record copy of the entry summary (or equivalent) must be submitted with the check and/or statement to the port of entry for collection.

Since revenue collection is performed at the port, a statement is required if the statement contains an entry summary in which documents are required, whether or not the entry summary is for a participating account. However, if all entry summaries covered by a statement are paperless and no documents are required, the filing of a statement is unnecessary regardless of center or port designation.

The resolution of discrepancies in the amount of monies presented and/or cashier documents, as well as the assessment and collection of liquidated damages, will continue to be handled by the port of entry.

Quota. All quota entry summaries will continue to be submitted to the port of entry for processing.

AD/CV Entries. Antidumping and countervailing duty entry summaries submitted prior to participation in the CEE test will remain assigned to the ports of entry for processing. AD/CV entries filed once a participating account has been accepted should be filed as usual but the center will process the entry summary.

Participating accounts that receive a “docs required” message for ACE and ACS AD/CV entry summaries will need to send the necessary documentation through the ACE portal or to the center’s email address. Blanket reimbursement certificates for participating accounts will need to be sent to the center’s email address.

Participating accounts should submit requests for administrative refund for overpayment on an AD/CV entry summary directly to the center for approval.

TIBs. The ports will maintain current responsibilities for temporary importation under bond entries for both release and entry summary. Enforcement actions will be coordinated with the appropriate center.

Reconciliation Entries. Reconciliation entries should continue to be filed with the assigned port of entry. Once reconciliation processing is transitioned to the CEEs the participating accounts will be notified of any new procedures or locations for reconciliation filing.

Drawback. Drawback claims should continue to be filed at one of the four existing drawback centers (New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Houston). Once drawback processing is transitioned to the centers the participating accounts will be notified of any new procedures or locations for drawback filing.

Virgin Islands. Participating accounts or their filers that file entry summaries at U.S. Virgin Islands ports of entry should continue to do so. Entry summaries filed at USVI ports have not been transitioned to the CEEs and will continue to be processed by the port of entry as usual.

Summary Rejection or Cancellation. Any notice of rejection of a participating account’s entry summary will be issued by the CEE. Requests for entry cancellations should be submitted to the appropriate center.

Census Rejects. If a participating account receives a Census reject for an ACS entry, the entry summary package including the invoices and the Census resolution form must be transmitted to the center’s email address (instead of the port) unless other arrangements have been made with the center. The timeframes concerning the submission of these documents remain the same.

Request for Information and Notice of Action. Participating accounts will only receive CBP Forms 28 and 29 from their respective centers and will be responsible for timely responses directly to the centers.

Liquidation. The bulletin notice of liquidation (CBP Form 4333) will still be posted at the ports of entry, but liquidation for participating accounts (except quota entries) will be processed by the centers.

Post-Summary Corrections. Participating accounts will transmit PSCs as they normally have but the centers will process them. When a participating account’s PSC is transmitted in ACE and documents are required, the documents should be transmitted through the ACE portal or to the assigned center’s email address. Any payment submitted for a PSC must be presented along with a corrected copy of a CBP Form 7501 to the port of entry for collection.

Post-Entry Amendments.  Participating accounts must submit PEA paperwork to the CEE’s email address. The center will review and process the PEA as per current procedures. Any payment submitted for a PEA must be presented to the port of entry for collection.

Internal Advice Requests. Requests for internal advice should be submitted to the appropriate center’s email address for further coordination with the Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings. Once the request is answered the center will coordinate with the requestor to ensure they are made aware of the decision.

Protests and Petitions. Protests should be filed through ABI with a note that designates the CEE team. The center will process the protest in accordance with current procedures. If a participating account or its filer chooses to not file protests through ABI, a scanned copy of the CBP Form 19 and all supporting documentation must be submitted to the center via the ACE portal or the center’s email address. The center will advise the participating account once the protest number is assigned.

Enforcement. All post-entry enforcement actions, such as liquidated damages, penalties, petition processing and other FP&F actions, continue to be handled by the ports. Enforcement actions involving participating accounts will be coordinated with the CEEs until such time as automation allows for the centers to process FP&F actions. Responses to enforcement/FP&F actions should therefore continue to be filed with the port of entry from which they originated.

Prior Disclosures. Prior disclosures may continue to be submitted to a CBP officer at the CBP port of entry of the disclosed violation or may be filed with the participating account’s designated center. Requirements and timeframes concerning the filing of prior disclosures remain the same.

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