U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday threw open the door for customs brokers wishing to join the simplified entry pilot program and loosened a key eligibility requirement.
At the end of May, nine customs brokers selected by the agency began filing streamlined customs declarations on behalf of their customers well before shipments were scheduled to depart foreign ports and far in advance of the current requirement that decisions on releasing cargo upon arrival cannot be made until after takeoff.
The initial phase of the demonstration program is currently limited to the air cargo mode and will run through December 2013.
Filers only need to submit about half the information required on the standard customs entry and can do so at any time prior to arrival in the United States.
CBP is quickly responding with a notice of "conditional release" or requesting additional information. That is followed by a final release message to the filer and the carrier once the manifest is filed and the carrier has submitted flight information.
The trial's goal is to give shippers more predictability about when they can claim their cargo by clearing up any data shortcomings or questions early in the supply chain to avoid costly freight delays upon arrival. The program also is expected to benefit CBP's cargo security efforts by electronically delivering advance cargo information that can be automatically analyzed for clues about potential smuggling by criminals or terrorists.
CBP said interested brokers have 14 days to apply for the simplified entry pilot. Companies that previously were not accepted must re-apply. The agency said it plans to accept all eligible applicants barring an overwhelming number of applications.
CBP's new selection criteria no longer require importers, for whom brokers file entries, be certified members of the voluntary Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Brokers, and importers that self-file entries, are still required to have full C-TPAT status to participate.
Details and instructions can be found in CBP's Federal Register
notice. - Eric Kulisch