U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to test the vessel cargo export manifest capability within the Automated Commercial Environment. This test will begin no earlier than Sept. 21 with nine participants and may be limited to a single or small number of ports until any operational, training or technical issues on either the trade or government side are established and/or resolved. CBP plans to run this test for about two years and to use its results in developing a rule that would make the submission of vessel export manifest data in ACE mandatory.

Current Requirements. Under the CBP regulations, certain information must be submitted to CBP for vessels with export cargo leaving the U.S. for any foreign area, whether directly or by way of other domestic ports. The vessel master or other proper officer must execute a Vessel Entrance or Clearance Statement on CBP Form 1300 pertaining to the outbound vessel. The vessel master, or the vessel’s agent on behalf of the master, must file a vessel cargo manifest on paper CBP Form 1302-A, Cargo Declaration Outward With Commercial Forms, with copies of bills of lading or equivalent commercial documents relating to all cargo encompassed by the manifest attached in such manner as to constitute one document. The manifest must generally be filed within four business days after clearance from each port in the vessel’s itinerary. Carriers that are approved to submit manifest information electronically in the Automated Export System must, with limited exceptions, submit the complete manifest data within 10 calendar days after departure.

The U.S. principal party in interest must file any required electronic export information for the cargo on the vessel and verify system acceptance of the EEI no later than 24 hours prior to departure from the U.S. port where the vessel cargo is to be laden. The vessel carrier may not load cargo without first receiving from the USPPI or its authorized agent either the related EEI filing citation, covering all cargo for which the EEI is required, or exemption legends, covering cargo for which EEI need not be filed. The outbound vessel carrier then must annotate the vessel cargo manifest, waybill or other export documentation with the applicable AES proof of filing, post departure, downtime, exclusion or exemption citations, conforming to the approved data formats found in the Foreign Trade Regulations.

ACE Test Procedures. The forthcoming test will evaluate the functionality regarding the filing of export manifest data for vessel cargo electronically to ACE as well as the feasibility of requiring this manifest information to be filed in ACE at least 24 hours prior to loading of the cargo on the vessel (rather than after departure, as currently allowed). If the vessel carrier files this ACE export manifest data the filing will be in lieu of the paper CBP Form 1302-A and copies of bills of lading or equivalent commercial documents relating to all cargo encompassed by the manifest. If a freight forwarder or non-vessel operating common carrier files the data the carrier will still be required to file one of the following: the paper CBP Form 1302-A with copies of bills of lading or equivalent commercial documents relating to all cargo encompassed by the manifest attached in such manner as to constitute one document; the 19 CFR 4.76 electronic equivalent, if the vessel carrier is approved for this procedure; or the ACE export manifest data, if the vessel carrier is a test participant.

CBP notes that the ACE export manifest data submission will be used to target high-risk vessel cargo and that any cargo identified as potentially high-risk will receive a hold until required additional information related to the shipment is submitted to clarify non-descriptive, inaccurate or insufficient information; a physical inspection is performed; or some other appropriate action specified by CBP is taken. Once the cargo is cleared for loading, a release message will be generated and transmitted to the filer.

ACE Test Data Elements. The test data elements, which are similar but not identical to those required on CBP Form 1302-A and are to be submitted at the lowest bill level, are as follows.

- mode of transportation (vessel, containerized, or vessel, non-containerized)

- name of ship or vessel

- nationality of ship

- name of master

- port of loading

- port of discharge

- bill of lading number (master and house)

- bill of lading type (master, house, simple or sub)

- number of house bills of lading

- marks and numbers (conditional)

- container numbers (conditiona0 - seal numbers (conditional)

- number and kind of packages

- description of goods

- gross weight (lb. or kg.) or measurements (per HTSUS)

- shipper name and address

- consignee name and address

- notify party name and address (conditional)

- country of ultimate destination

- in-bond number (conditional)

- internal transaction number or AES exemption statement (per shipment)

- split shipment indicator (yes/no)

- portion of split shipment (conditional)

- hazmat indicator (yes/no)

- UN number (conditional; if hazmat indicator is yes, the four-digit UN number assigned to the hazardous material must be provided)

- Chemical Abstract Service registry number (conditional)

- vehicle identification number or production identification number (conditional; for shipments of used vehicles, the VIN must be reported, or for used vehicles that do not have a VIN the PIN must be reported)

These data elements will be mandatory unless indicated as conditional, in which case they must be transmitted only if that information pertains to the cargo.

CBP notes that while there are currently no additional data elements identified for other participating government agencies, it may enhance this test in the future with additional data or processing capabilities to assist with facilitation of vessel shipment movements.

Benefits. CBP states that the benefits of participating in this test may include the following: lower costs associated with generating copies, transportation and storage of paper manifest documentation; increased security by leveraging CBP threat model and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve vessel cargo security and ensure compliance with U.S. export laws, rules and regulations through targeted screening; improved efficiencies by automating the identification of high-risk cargo for enhanced screening; and facilitation of corporate preparedness for future mandatory implementation of electronic export manifest submission requirements.

Eligibility. CBP is limiting this test to nine stakeholders in the vessel cargo environment: at least three, but no more than six, vessel carriers and at least three, but no more than six, freight forwarders or NVOCCs. There are no restrictions with regard to organization size, location or commodity type, but participation is limited to those parties able to electronically transmit export manifest data in the identified acceptable format. Those interested in participating should submit an email to CBP stating their interest and qualifications.

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