of today, February 3, 2003, Customs’ new 24-hour Cargo
Manifest rule (See T.D. 02-62) is in effect, and carriers
are now required to submit a vessel's Cargo Declaration to U.S. Customs 24 hours prior to loading a container aboard
a vessel at a foreign port. Carriers that participate in Customs Automated Manifest
System (AMS) will be required to provide their cargo declarations
the new requirements, the descriptions of goods on each shipment
must be more detailed than previously required.
addition to the regular cargo manifest information required, the
Vessel Cargo Declaration must include the following information:
numbers and quantities from the carrier's ocean bills of lading,
either master or house, as applicable;
precise description (or the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)
numbers to the 6-digit level under which the cargo is classified
if that information is received from the shipper) and weight
of the cargo or, for a sealed container, the shipper's declared
description and weight of the cargo. Generic descriptions, specifically
those such as "FAK" ("freight of all kinds"),
"general cargo", and "STC" ("said to
contain") are not acceptable;
shipper's complete name and address, or identification number,
from all bills of lading;
complete name and address of the consignee or the owner or owner's
representative, or identification number, from all bills of
numbers (for containerized shipments); and
seal numbers for all seals affixed to containers.
masters of the vessel will be subject to penalties and liquidated
damages for providing Customs with false or inaccurate data.
It is very likely that the carriers will pass these penalties
to the their customers, the exporter or importer, as the source
of the false or inaccurate information.
24-hour rule will present a great many challenges to exporters,
carriers, and importers as they rush to meet this new deadline
and provide sufficiently detailed and accurate information so
as to allow Customs to determine whether to allow the loading
of the container onboard the vessel. Lurking below the waterline,
however, is the fact that many elements of the vessel’s
inbound cargo declaration is available for public inspection.
(See 19 C.F.R. § 103.31-- Information on vessel manifests and
summary statistical reports.). There is a great concern that
the release of such information would reveal confidential business
information and harm the parties in the transactions.
providing for the disclosure of this information, however, Congress
also authorized importers and consignees to protect their name,
address, and identifying marks and numbers from disclosure, along
with the name and address of their supplier. (See 19 U.S.C. 1431(c).
importer or consignee may request confidential treatment by following
the procedure set out in section 103.31(d)(1) of the Customs Regulations:
(i) An importer or consignee, or authorized employee,
attorney or official of the importer or consignee, must submit
a certification claiming confidential treatment of its name and
address. The name and address of an importer or consignee includes
marks and numbers that reveal the name and address of the importer
or consignee. An importer or consignee may file a certification
requesting confidentiality for all its shippers.
is no prescribed format for the request. However, the certification
must include the importer or consignee's Internal Revenue Service
Employer Number. There is no requirement to provide sufficient
facts to support the conclusion that the disclosure of the names
and addresses would likely cause substantial harm to the competitive
position of the importer or consignee.
certification must be submitted to the Disclosure Law Officer,
Headquarters, U.S. Customs Service, 1301 Constitution Avenue,
NW., Washington, DC 20229.
initial request will be valid for a period of two years from the
date of receipt. Renewal requests should be submitted to the
Regulations and Disclosure Law Branch at least 60 days prior to
the expiration of the current request. An importer or consignee
shall be given written notification by Customs of the receipt
of its request for confidentiality.
Procedure For Requesting Cargo Confidentiality
By Electronic Cargo Filers
addition to accepting submissions of requests for confidentiality
from an importer or consignee, Customs is proposing to allow the
Carrier or NVOCC that files its cargo declaration electronically
to submit a certification for confidential treatment on behalf
of the importer or consignee if it is authorized to do so by the
importer or consignee. See Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 68
Fed. Reg. 1173, dated January 9, 2003. Unlike the requests filed
by importers or consignees, requests filed by the Carriers are
good for only six months, and then must be renewed.
wishing to submit written comments to Customs on the proposed
rule may do so by February 10, 2003.
Please contact George Tuttle, III, at email@example.com if you have any questions
24-hour Cargo Manifest rule or
other customs law matters.
R. Tuttle, III, is an attorney with the Law Offices of George
R. Tuttle in San Francisco. The information in this article
is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal
advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with respect
to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered such.
© 2003 by Tuttle Law Offices.
rights reserved. Information has been obtained from sources believed
to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or
mechanical error by our offices or by others, we do not guarantee
the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and are
not responsible for any errors, omissions, or for the results obtained
from the use of such information.