U.S. Customs and Border Protection added Sept. 15 the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Newark, Savannah, Miami and Seattle/Tacoma to the list of ports that will allow eligible sea carriers to apply for advance unlading facilitation benefits. That list already included the ports of New Orleans, Oakland, Baltimore and Port Everglades, Fla.

The Advanced Qualified Unlading Approval (AQUA) program allows C-TPAT qualified ocean carriers that are also compliant with importer security filing and certain agriculture requirements to apply for AQUA electronically through their vessel agent a minimum of 24 hours prior to arrival. CBP will review the request and provide notification to the vessel agent on whether the request has been approved or denied. All containers must be delivered directly to a C-TPAT member terminal operator and the crew must remain onboard the vessel until formal CBP processing is done.

Beginning Dec. 15, CBP plans to expand this program to the ports of Charleston, Houston, Jacksonville, Honolulu, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Wilmington (Delaware), Wilmington (North Carolina), Boston, and San Juan. Advanced unlading is expected to be implemented at all remaining ports in February 2017.

CBP anticipates that AQUA will immediately affect about 85 C-TPAT sea carrier members and reverberate throughout the entire supply chain due to quicker unlading times. Carriers should also be able to better predict unlading times for labor cost purposes and lower their costs for fuel, dockage fees, etc. CBP, in turn, will be able to better allocate resources and manpower as necessary.

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg can assist those interested in participating in the AQUA program, particularly carriers and marine terminal operators, with the necessary C-TPAT certifications. For more information, please contact Lenny Feldman at (305) 894-1011.

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