Customs Expands Enforcement of the 24-Hour Rule

Monday, May 05, 2003
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner today announced that CBP will begin the next phase of enforcement for the 24-hour rule. The 24-hour rule requires an advance cargo declaration from sea carriers and became effective on December 2, 2002. CBP uses the cargo information to identify and eliminate potential terrorist threats before a vessel sails from a foreign port to U.S. seaports, rather than after a vessel and its cargo arrives in the United States. The expanded enforcement actions include: 1. On May 4, 2003, CBP will issue "Do Not Load" messages for containerized cargo that has an invalid or incomplete cargo description. Initially, enforcement efforts focused only on significant violations of the cargo description requirements of the 24-hour rule. For example, the use of such vague cargo descriptions a "Freight-All-Kinds," "Said-To-Contain," or "General Merchandise" was not tolerated. 2. On May 4, 2003, CBP will issue monetary penalties for late submission of cargo declarations. 3. On May 15, 2003, CBP will issue "Do Not Load" messages for clear violations of the consignee name and address requirement. For example, consignee fields left blank, or the use of "To Order" and "To Order of Shipper" without corresponding information in the consignee field and notify party field, or consignee name with no address, incomplete address or invalid address are not acceptable. 4. On May 15, 2003, CBP will issue monetary penalties for Foreign Remaining on Board (FROB) cargo that has an invalid cargo description, and has been loaded onboard the vessel without providing CBP a 24-hour time frame for targeting. Carriers may be assessed a $5,000 penalty for first violation and $10,000 for any subsequent violation attributable to the master. Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) may be assessed liquidated damages in the amount of $5,000. Every subsequent violation will also be $5,000. "The global supply chain and the seaports of the United States are more secure from terrorist threat since the inception of the 24-hour rule, but there is still more work to do," said Commissioner Bonner. "We are taking the next step in our compliance strategy to see that all of the rule's requirements are complied with. Our goal is to achieve full compliance quickly and efficiently while still maintaining a high rate of trade compliance." On February 2, 2003, enforcement of the rule began. This initial phase focused on significant violations of the cargo description requirement. Vague cargo terms such as "freight of all kinds," "said to contain," "consolidated cargo," "general merchandise," and "various retail merchandise" were not accepted. Containerized cargo with this type of description was issued a "Do Not Load" message while still in the foreign port. If cargo was loaded without prior approval by CPB, the container was denied permit to unlade at all U.S. ports. CBP reviewed more than 2.4 million bills of lading for the period between February 2 to April 29, 2003. About 260 containers with inadequate cargo descriptions were denied loading for violation of the 24-hour rule. Most of these violations were resolved in time for the shipment to make its original voyage. CBP expects to see the same type of strong compliance by the trade under the second phase of enforcement.

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