An advisory committee is urging U.S. Customs and Border Protection to accelerate work toward the electronic filing of export manifests for all modes of transportation.

CBP is working to build an electronic export manifest process to eliminate the existing process wherein export manifest information is submitted via document images, email, and paper. EEM allows pre-departure manifest data to be collected on all export transactions electronically and includes master and house-level manifest data from the carriers and parties that control that information.

According to CBP, EEM offers both immediate and potential future benefits. These include minimizing export delays by allowing cargo to be targeted and inspected further upstream in the supply chain and electronically communicating shipment exam requirements so carriers can adjust their operations accordingly. EEM may also be used to support proof of export, thus streamlining procedures for drawback, in-bond movements, and temporary imports; reduce violations that can lead to penalties by using more reliable data; and streamline the reporting of proprietary shipment data.

CBP is currently testing EEM for vessel and rail cargo. Under these tests participants agree to submit export manifest data to CBP electronically (1) at least 24 hours prior to loading the cargo on the vessel in preparation for departure from the U.S. or (2) at least two hours prior to loading the cargo onto the rail car in preparation for departure from the U.S., or, for empty rail cars, upon assembly of the train.

Test participants must provide mandatory data elements – including port of loading or departure, shipper and consignee name and address, and cargo description – to CBP for every shipment. Conditional data elements (e.g., marks and numbers and in-bond numbers) are required only if the particular information pertains to the cargo. Optional data elements (e.g., split shipment indicator) may be provided but are not required.

The Export Modernization Working Group of CBP’s Customs Commercial Operations Advisory Committee reported recently that it is continuing to meet bi-weekly with CBP, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Industry and Security to continue to push for the development and rollout of EEM for all modes of transport. In particular, the working group is urging the release of regulations for rail, air, and vessel, and it is continuing to discuss the benefits and challenges of the truck manifest pilot CBP is planning to implement.

Further, the working group submitted the following recommendations, which the full COAC is expected to endorse at its Dec. 13 meeting.

- CBP should align the reporting timeline requirements for truck export manifests to one hour to mirror the time frame for reporting import manifests.

- CBP should integrate EEM into the existing ACE manifest trade portal(s) for import manifests to provide a seamless user experience, allowing parties to create, search, and amend both import and export manifests within the same portal.

- CBP, Census, and the trade community should conduct a training workshop on all aspects of EEM to ensure consistency in future messaging to the trade for targeting and potential penalties.

- CBP should use the manifest confirmation number for all exports to close out bonded movements, internal transaction numbers, temporary importations under bond, foreign-origin carnets, and drawback proof of export requirements.

- CBP should send out automated notifications to the EEM filer to note that a shipment has been selected for examination.

- Upon closing a specific transaction CBP should send out automated notifications simultaneously to all parties connected to the manifest confirmation number (carrier, broker, filer, surety, etc.) that include the unique manifest confirmation number for each specific transaction.

- CBP and the Canada Border Services Agency should work together to unify cargo processing and inspections for EEM targeting purposes for truck exports at the northern border to mirror the process that exists at ports along the southern border.

- CBP should roll out EEM during COAC’s current term, ensuring the release of regulations for all modes of transportation and continuing to collaborate with the trade to finalize the vision of export modernization, which includes features such as progressive export filing, automated proof of export to facilitate duty savings programs, and increased facilitation.

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