U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to test the rail cargo export manifest capability within the Automated Commercial Environment. This test will begin no earlier than Oct. 13 with nine participants. 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 rail export manifest data in ACE mandatory.

Current Requirements. Under CBP’s existing regulations, rail carriers are not required to submit a paper or electronic manifest for cargo exported from the U.S. by rail. However, the U.S. principal party in interest is required to submit any required electronic export information for cargo on a train in the Automated Export System and to transmit and verify system acceptance of the EEI generally no later than two hours prior to the arrival of the train at the border. The rail carrier may not load cargo without first receiving the EEI filing citation or exemption legends and must annotate its outward manifest, waybill or other export documentation with the applicable AES proof of filing, post-departure, downtime, exclusion or exemption citations.

ACE Test Procedures. The forthcoming test will evaluate the feasibility of requiring rail carriers to file export manifest data and the functionality of filing such data to ACE within a specific timeframe: at least two hours prior to loading of the cargo onto the rail car in preparation for departure from the U.S.; or, for empty rail cars, upon assembly of the train. CBP states that this timeframe will enable it to link the EEI with the export manifest information and thus better assess risk and effectively target and inspect shipments to ensure compliance with all U.S. export laws.

The ACE export manifest data submission will be used to target high-risk rail cargo and 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. CBP notes that while it will aim to identify shipments for inspection prior to cargo loading, inspections could potentially happen at any time before the train departs the U.S.

ACE Test Data Elements. The test data elements for all rail shipments, which are to be submitted at the lowest bill level, are as follows.

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

- port of departure from the U.S.

- date of departure

- manifest number

- train number

- rail car order

- car locator message

- hazmat indicator (yes/no)

- six-character hazmat code (conditional; if the hazmat indicator is “yes,” the United Nations number or North American number and the corresponding four-digit identification number assigned to the hazmat must be provided)

- marks and numbers

- standard carrier alpha code for exporting carrier

- shipper name and address (for empty cars, the shipper may be the railroad from which the carrier received the empty car to transport)

- consignee name and address (for empty cars, the consignee may be the railroad to which the car is being transported)

- place where the rail carrier takes possession of the cargo shipment or empty car

- port of unlading

- country of ultimate destination

- equipment type code

- containers number(s) (for containerized shipments) or rail car number(s) (for all other shipments)

- empty indicator (yes/no)

If the empty indicator is “no,” the following data elements must also be provided, as applicable.

- bill of lading numbers (master and house)

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

- number of house bills of lading

- notify party name and address (conditional)

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

- cargo description

- weight of cargo (pounds or kilograms)

- quantity of cargo and unit of measure

- seal number

- split shipment indicator (yes/no)

- portion of split shipment (e.g., 1 of 10; conditional)

- in-bond number (conditional)

- Mexican pedimento number (for exports to Mexico; conditional)

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 rail shipments.

Benefits. CBP states that the benefits of participating in this test may include the following.

- facilitation of the movement of legitimate cargo by rail across U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico

- lower costs associated with fewer examinations required after cargo is already loaded on the rail car

- fewer delays and lower associated costs as a result of fewer trains being stopped for inspection at the border or less cargo being returned to CBP custody for inspection once the cargo has departed the U.S.

- more real-time accurate transportation data when linked to the EEI filing, thereby potentially reducing the likelihood of penalties for incorrect information

- increased security by leveraging CBP threat model and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve rail cargo security and ensure compliance with U.S. export laws, rules and regulations through targeted screening

- facilitation of corporate preparedness for future mandatory implementation of electronic export manifest submission requirements

Eligibility. CBP is limiting this test to nine rail carriers. 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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