US Customs Clearance Process: Automated Manifest System

By | 20/08/2014
US Customs Clearance-24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule

Global Customs Trends – Automated Manifest System (AMS)

1. The Latest Trend in US Customs Clearance after September 11 Attacks

In response to the disasters caused by the synchronized terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States has introduced a variety of enhanced security measures. They are being implemented in two major directions: administrative reorganization and amendment as well as supplementation of existing institutions.
The former pivots on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and with the administrative reorganization, adoption of new security measures is gaining speed. And the latter is what US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implements by coming up with measures to stop maritime terrorism by creating a container security program that systematically screens trade goods arriving in the US, with a view to upgrading security for cargoes imported to the country and their route. Crucial elements of the latter are set up around Container Security Initiative (CSI) and 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule (commonly called 24-Hour rule).

2. Background of 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule

September 11 attacks posed serious problems as to the maritime container cargo transport, in that if international terrorists with intent to mount terror attacks bring into the US weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or nuclear weapons cached in a container ship, the damage should be tremendous. In fact, after September 11 attacks, experts estimate that ships are quite likely to become the next target for terrorists. As a matter of fact, container ships engaged in import and export operations go through ports in a number of countries and carry a great variety of cargoes and thus, run the risk of loading terror-related merchandise. That is why it has become imperative that they come up with a more secure system to stop international terrorists from taking advantage of maritime containers to commit acts of terrorism.

3. Key Specifics of 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule

 (1) Submitter of 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest
Parties that are directly involved in the implementation of 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule include not only transporters (shipping companies) but also Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) that use transportation service. Accordingly, 24 hours prior to loading at foreign ports, all transporters that want their cargo-carrying ships to call at US ports must submit a vessel manifest to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), using CBP Form 1302 or an electronic form that has been approved by CBP as the same. Moved up from the previous deadline set by CBP, which was 48 hours before arrival to a US port, the new regulation is designed to ensure a cargo security check.
Besides shipping companies, NVOCCs that deliver goods to shipping companies for loading from foreign ports must get a license from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) or, if in possession of International Carrier Bond, must electronically submit a vessel manifest to CBP through Automated Manifest System (AMS) 24 hours ahead of loading from a foreign port.

(2) Specifics of Declaration in 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest

As shown in Table 1, transporters or NVOCCs must submit information on cargo, container, and ship classified in total 14 categories.
<Table 1> Specifics of Declaration in 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest
Cargo information
  • Ship’s (or transporter’s) B/L number and quantity.
  • žAccurate description (with 6-digit HS code) and weight of freight, or for sealed containers, shipper-provided description and weight (however, such generic description as “freight all kinds (FAK)”, “general cargo”, and “said to contain (STC)” are not acceptable).
  • žB/L-listed shipper’s full name and address or identification number assigned by CBP.
  • žB/L-listed consignee’s full name and address, owner’s representative’s name and address, or identification number assigned by CBP.
  • žInternationally recognized hazardous substances code.
Container information
  • žContainer number.
  • žThe seal number attached to the container.
Ship information
  • žThe last port which a US-bound ship departs from.
  • žStandard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC).
  • žCarrier assigned voyage number.
  • žScheduled date of arrival to the first port of call in the US.
  • žName of the port where a US-bound foreign transporter receives cargo.
  • žShip name (its IMO number), name of the country where documents are created, and ship’s official number.
  • žName of the foreign port where freight has been loaded.

(3) Exceptions to 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest

A transporter etc. that specializes in carrying bulk cargoes such as oil, grains, and iron ore, or break bulk cargo (not loaded into containers, but packaged or bundled up) must submit a cargo declaration to US CBP 24 hours prior to its arrival in a US port.

(4) Sanctions for Violations of 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule

In customs clearance, strict compliance with 24-Hour Rule is essential to securing the global supply chain from the perspective of US CBP. Therefore, against violations of 24-Hour Rule, US CBP imposes sanctions such as refusal to receive a vessel manifest, levying a fine, sending a message banning loading, refusal to offload containers, and detaining or confiscating a ship.

a. Refusal to receive a vessel manifest

With this measure, US Customs and Border Protection demands detailed and accurate provision of 15 items on top of the existing requirements for a vessel manifest. Therefore, when a transporter or an NVOCC fails to comply with the requirement for cargo declaration, US CBP may refuse to receive a vessel manifest. With regard to providing detailed and accurate information for a vessel manifest, phrases expressing ignorance or lack of knowledges such as “shipper’s load and count”, “said to contain”, “container sealed by shipper”, and “contents unknown”, or vague expressions such as “general cargo” are not going to be accepted. It is not acceptable to leave the ‘Consignee’ unnamed, simply state “As directed” or “As directed by shipper” in ‘Consignee’ or ‘Person to be notified’ without providing specific relevant information, write in a consignee name only without an address, or provide an incomplete or invalid address.

b. Levying a fine

A fine is to be imposed on a transporter or an NVOCC that is late in submitting a vessel manifest. To be specific, in case a transporter or an NVOCC fails to submit a vessel manifest in accordance with the rule, fails to declare in the manner specified in the rule, fails to declare within the required time limit, or electronically transmits to US CBP counterfeited, doctored, or false documents, vessel manifest, or data, a transporter is fined USD 5,000 for the first violation and USD 10,000 for each following violation while an NVOCC is charged USD 5,000 for later settlement and USD 5,000 for each next violation.

c. Sending a message banning loading and refusal to discharge containers

To a transporter or an NVOCC that has violated the 24-Hour Rule with incompletely filed cargo, US CBP delivers a message banning loading (‘Do Not Load’). This loading-banning message means that CBP has prohibited a shipping company from loading on a ship from an overseas port heading to the US a specific container found in violation of the 24-Hour Rule with an invalid or incomplete vessel manifest, or with regard to requirement related to consignee name or address. A transporter or an NVOCC that ignores a loading-banning message and goes ahead to load a specific container will be denied permission to discharge the container at the US port where the ship will arrive.

d. Detaining or confiscating a ship

When it fails to receive complete cargo information through a specified vessel manifest from a transporter or an NVOCC no later than 24 hours to the loading of cargo at a foreign port, the US CBP may prohibit offloading of the entire cargo until all required information is received, and may detain or confiscate a ship if it is loaded with weapons of mass destruction etc.
Thus, we have surveyed the background of and key details of 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest, which was fully enforced in the US from February 2003. In our next issue, we will take a bit closer look at the key specifics of Importer Security Filing and additional carrier requirements.
Global Customs Trends Series:
Posted by Ki-Nam Kim, a solution specialist, who has researched and developed business solution related to customs and logistics.
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