The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule that, effective June 21, amends its regulations regarding the importation or exportation of animals and animal products and plants and plant products to provide the flexibility needed to take advantage of electronic systems such as the Automated Commercial Environment when a regulation requires the use of a hard-copy form or specifies that a particular document must be submitted in writing. APHIS notes that this rules does not mandate the use of electronic systems or preclude the use of paper documents but instead address those instances where its regulations specify a submission method to the exclusion of other methods.

APHIS notes that in many cases its regulations require importers or shippers to provide documents such as import permits or certificates upon arrival in the U.S. without specifying the medium in which those documents must be provided. APHIS does not believe that provisions written in this manner require any changes since the language used already allows for the use of electronic systems.

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