U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to conduct a test allowing participants to submit certain vessel entry and clearance data electronically through the Vessel Entrance and Clearance System prior to arrival or departure from designated ports. This test will begin at the port of Gulfport, Miss., no earlier than Dec. 21, but CBP will designate additional ports as test ports during the 24-month test period.

CBP regulations generally require that the master or vessel agent of a commercial vessel submit certain arrival, entrance, and clearance data to CBP when traveling to and from U.S. ports of entry. Currently this data must be submitted on paper forms, but a February 2014 executive order requires the U.S. government to streamline the import/export process by increasing efforts to improve technologies, policies, and other controls governing the movement of goods across U.S. borders.

In support of this EO, and in response to requests from the trade, CBP is developing a web-based system that will allow for the partial automation and electronic filing of many of its paper-based commercial vessel arrival, entrance, and clearance data collections. The forthcoming test will allow CBP to test this system by allowing participants to electronically submit through the VECS the entrance and clearance data currently collected on CBP Form 1300 (Vessel Entrance or Clearance Statement), CBP Form 1302 (Inward Cargo Declaration), CBP Form 1303 (Ship’s Stores Declarations), CBP Form 1304 (Crew’s Effects Declaration), CBP Form 3171 (Application-Permit-Special-License Unlading-Lading-Overtime Services), CBP Form 26 (Report of Diversion), and CBP Form 226 (Record of Vessel Foreign Repair or Equipment Purchase). The test will also allow participants to make certain entry and clearance requests and reports, and vessel agents to submit required supporting documentation, electronically.

CBP notes that all other forms required for the entrance and clearance of a vessel (e.g., CBP Form 1302A (Cargo Declaration Outward with Commercial Forms), CBP Form I-418 (Passenger List-Crew List), and CBP Form 5129 (Crew Member’s Declaration)) are not part of the test and must continue to be submitted in accordance with the procedures outlined in the CBP regulations.

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