Sunday, September 13, 2009

US Importer Security Filing Deadline Looms for Ocean Freight

Homeland Security Scheme Proceeds Apace – Compulsory from January
Shipping News Feature

US – The Importers Security Filing Programme, in which all importers based in the US need to register details of most trading partners prior to their export from suppliers, seems to be working reasonably successfully thus far. The scheme is applicable to ocean freight vessel arrivals only.

Importers are reminded that the system becomes mandatory on 26th January 2010 and the fear still exists that some importing companies have failed to update their processes to comply. The Customs and Border Protection Department, who are responsible for administrating the scheme, have generally been very successful in maintaining the targets which were originally set, even during a format upgrade. The average response time to online filings has consistently been less than the promised 2 minutes. This of course may alter as the pressure builds, with more inexperienced companies using the system.

Companies who fail to grasp the new procedures can face penalties of up to $5,000 per incident but there are still issues regarding compliance as, currently, the Customs evaluate entries by comparing the time an importer files the required information against the time the carrier lodges Bill of Lading details with them. Carriers, as well as importers, are pressurised to ensure they adhere to the scheme. This can lead to the situation where an importer lodges the information in good time i.e. before a vessel departs, yet be accused of late entry as the carrier has pre-empted the information by lodging all or part manifest details prior to sailing.

Failure to follow the correct procedures after January could lead to cargo seizures or shipments being refused permission to enter the US. For importers and agents still unsure of the scope and detail of the regulations there is an online brochure or for more precise detail see the url link at the foot of the page.