CBP held their East Coast Trade Symposium last week in Atlanta, GA, and CustomsNow’s VP of Client Services, Nic Adams, was there.  It was widely anticipated that CBP would make an announcement on how they intend to implement better processes for De Minimis shipments, also known as Section 321 entries, going forward.

Unfortunately, there was no announcement made as CBP acknowledged that the announcement has been delayed pending the outcome of the USTR’s NAFTA relegations.

The news was so anticipated because Section 321 filings are a ‘hot topic’ these days, ever since February 24, 2016, when the de minimis value was raised from $200 to $800. This increase was required by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA), as announced by CBP hereon March 11, 2016.  The increase has much controversy surrounding it, due to the impact on e-commerce and security therein, and when most other nations are greatly decreasing their allowed value to ensure proper scrutiny and security.

Due to this change, CBP shall clear free of duties and taxes, any shipment of merchandise having a fair retail value in the country of shipment not exceeding $800. Although there are many conditions for eligibility that exist, such as only one Sec. 321 may be imported by one person on one day, and shipments with PGA are not allowed under 321, for example.

Currently, a Section 321 declaration to CBP is made via the truck or air manifest or by providing documentation to CBP at the port of arrival.  This process does not have the same controls in place as with commercial shipments to ensure that they qualify for Section 321 benefits and any required PGA declarations are made.  This lack of controls is greatly contributing to the increase in the number of parcel and mail shipments containing illicit or illegal products.

The Commercial Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) E-Commerce Working Group has made recommendations for improving the process to ensure that proper screening is taking place on the ever-increasing number of small package shipments entering the United States.  Among their recommendations is “The COAC recommends CBP provide section 321 filing capability in ACE for ACE filers and that automated solutions, including the ability to file PGA data, should be available in ABI and AMS”

By implementing this recommendation CBP, and the PGAs, will be able to leverage their existing targeting systems to interdict illicit or illegal products.  In addition, many companies that are involved in legitimate e-commerce trade are looking for more efficient ways to declare these shipments to CBP.

CustomsNow, as an ABI software vendor, is looking forward to the day when our clients can quickly and easily declare these shipments electronically with CBP.