Customs around the world

As the common proverb states, the devil never sleeps. It is by no means different in today’s interconnected world of international trade. Security has become a key aspect of international shipments and it is sufficiently supported by new means of customs technology. Let us look at some news in this field.

US Foreign Trade Regulations impacting the ATA Carnet
As of April 5, 2014, several changes will be implemented to the US Foreign Trade Regulations. Some of these changes involve goods leaving the U.S. under an ATA Carnet.

Historically, all exports leaving the United States, except temporary exports, have already been subject to the Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing requirements. The new Foreign Trade Regulations will limit the scope of the exemption of temporary exports, which affects ATA Carnet shipments being no longer automatically exempt from the EEI filing. There are, however, still some exemptions that ATA Carnet shipments can qualify for (subject to strict conditions):

  • Low Value Exemption: goods valued at or below $2,500 do not need to be reported. However, all goods subject to licensing or other export controls must be reported, regardless of value.
  • Hand Carried Tools of the Trade: tools to be exempted must be owned by the exporting company, accompany the employee of the exporting company, must be necessary and appropriate and intended for the personal and/or business use of the employee, must not be for sale and should be hand carried or checked as baggage on a commercial airline. Note that the tools must be returned to the US within one year from the date of export. Also note that this exemption only applies to U.S.-issued ATA Carnets.
  • Canada: an EEI filing is not required for shipments originating in the U.S. and where the country of ultimate destination is Canada. Any U.S. ATA Carnet accompanying goods transported to Canada is exempt from the EEI filing requirement, as long as the goods return to the U.S. directly from Canada. This exemption does not apply to Foreign ATA Carnets either.

Japan Advance Filing Rules for Maritime Container Cargo Information
Japan introduced new customs security rules from 10 March 2014. According to the new provisions, a vessel operator or a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) is required to electronically submit information on maritime container cargoes to be loaded on a vessel intended to entry into a port in Japan, to Japan Customs in principle no later than 24 hours before departure of the vessel from a port of loading. Persons liable to comply with the new filing requirements are the following:

  • Operators of foreign trading vessels carrying container cargoes intending to enter a port in Japan who know the cargo information based on Ocean (Master) Bill of Lading.
  • Consignors who use carriage by shipping companies, that know the cargo information based on House Bill of Lading to engage in the cargo transportation business, and enter into freight contracts with Shipping Companies.

The advance filing requirements have been implemented by using an electronic data processing system managed and operated by NACCS (Nippon automated Cargo System). Those who file the cargo information under AFR via Service Providers must obtain a Reporter ID from the Reporter ID Issuance System provided by NACCS Center beforehand.

Failure to comply with the advance filing requirements may result in penal action including imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year in the case of shipping companies or a fine of up to JPY 500 thousand. In addition, if cargo is discharged without permission, the offenders may also face penal actions including imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine of up to JPY500 thousand.

It is evident from the above that electronic customs filing combined with advance information exchange requirements is one of the most wide-spread tools to screen shipments and try to detect fraudulent intentions. Needless to say, the devil I know is better than the devil I don’t know.

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