Amid a trucker protest blocking a key bridge between the U.S. and Canada, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is encouraging individual ports to consider maximum flexibility to ensure that legitimate cargo is processed.

As of Feb. 10 the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, which carries about 25 percent of all U.S.-Canada commercial trade, was at least partially blocked by truckers protesting COVID-19-related cross-border travel restrictions. Similar protests were restricting movement at other border crossings as well. One result has been delays in shipments of products from California-grown walnuts to Canadian-made auto parts, which some observers say could last for weeks.

In light of this situation, CBP said on a Feb. 9 call that it is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to keep cargo moving. On the Canadian side, service roads are being used to bypass protests. In the U.S., CBP is encouraging cargo diversion to alternate ports and surging resources to those locations to help facilitate port bypass.

To further this effort, CBP issued Feb. 9 a message saying its ports should enhance communication with trade partners to identify alternate clearance locations within their area of responsibility and should be actively communicating with customs brokers to remedy any issues caused by entry diversions.

When cargo is diverted to alternate ports of entry, CBP said its officers should accept the diversion in the Automated Cargo Environment, noting that this process works in both the ACE truck manifest system and ACE cargo release for most shipments where partner government agency requirements do not apply. 

When ACE does not allow the diversion based on system edits, CBP officers should review shipment entry/release information to ensure there are no open enforcement or compliance holds or issues. These shipments should then be manually released as soon as possible with information (documents, cover sheets, etc.) retained to allow for entry correction measures with brokers and importers to be taken later in a post-release environment. 

CBP anticipates issuing additional guidance as the situation at the border evolves.

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