Supply Chain Council of European Union |

CBP expands e-commerce data pilot to ocean, international mail

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will add ocean and international mail shipments to an electronic pilot program that collects advance data on e-commerce shipments with import values of less than the $800 de minimis.

The Section 321 E-Commerce Data Pilot was announced by CBP on July 23 and started on Aug. 22 to better understand how to effectively target high-risk e-commerce shipments. Initially, the pilot excluded ocean and international mail shipments, focusing instead on those consignments moved by air, truck and rail.

“Based on the initial operation of the pilot, CBP has learned that many e-commerce entities utilize all modes of transportation and that excluding ocean shipments from the pilot would exclude a substantial number of relevant shipments of potential participants,” the agency said in a Dec. 9 Federal Register notice announcing the changes.

“CBP has also learned through the initial operation of the pilot that excluding international mail shipments may impose an additional burden on pilot participants because they would need to separate data relating to mail shipments from data relating to other section 321 shipments,” the agency said.

In addition, the agency said it will expand the Section 321 data pilot’s operation an additional 12 months to August 2021.

“The additional time is necessary in order for pilot participants to modify their communication systems in order to execute the provisions of the pilot and for CBP to collect a sufficient amount of data from the participants,” CBP said.

Section 321 of the 2015 Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) raised the de minimis for package shipments from $200 to $800.

According to CBP, the increased de minimis caused a significant uptick in e-commerce imports into the U.S., which challenged its ability to target illicit shipments. CBP estimates that about 1.8 million e-commerce shipments that are valued at under the $800 de minimis arrive in the U.S. each day, with the expectation for this volume to grow.

The Section 321 pilot participants include eligible e-commerce carriers, customs brokers, freight forwarders and online marketplaces, which must electronically transmit certain data elements related to their shipments to the agency in advance of their arrival in the U.S.

These advance data elements include the “originator code” of the participant, which is assigned by CBP, and participant filer type, such as the carrier or online marketplace. In addition, one or more of the following details must be provided in the advance filing to CBP, including shipment tracking number, house bill number and master number.

Participating carriers also must electronically transmit the shipment initiator’s name and address, final deliver-to party name and address, an enhanced product description, verification of a foreign shipment security scan (for air carriers only) and known carrier customer, which identifies a shipper as a repeat customer that pays it fees and has no trade violations.

Online marketplaces that are eligible to participate in the pilot must electronically submit to CBP the seller’s name and address, final deliver-to party’s name and address, known marketplace seller’s details, marketplace seller’s account number or identification, buyer’s name and address, product picture and description, and the product’s listed retail price.

CBP said Section 321 pilot participants will not be subject to civil or criminal penalties, administrative sanctions or liquidated damages, if they are initially unable to provide the data elements required by the test. The agency warned, however, that it has discretion to issue penalties to those pilot participants “who repeatedly provide false, inaccurate or misleading data.”

Separately, CBP in late September initiated an Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) test for de minimis entry filings, known as the ACE Entry Type 86. The test allows importers with Section 321 shipments that are subject to partner government agency (PGA) data requirements to use a Section 321 de minimis entry process.

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