The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released its final rules allowing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to collect advanced cargo information necessary to identify high-risk commerical shipments that could threaten the security of the United States.
The "final rules" of the Trade Act of 2002 address the timeline for electronic advance manifest information and provide the DHS with the authority to eliminate antiquated, paper-driven processes for cargo crossing U.S. borders.
The regulations, which fall under Section 434(a) of the Trade Act of 2002, were set to take effect Oct. 1, but were delayed for unknown reasons.
"We need to take advantage of every opportunity to make our country safe from terrorists and terrorist weapons, said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, in a statement. "Advance information is a cornerstone in our efforts to secure our nation's borders and ensure the flow of trade. The security measures resulting from these rules are necessary to achieve these twin goals."
Under the provisions of the Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will process advance cargo information into an automated system linked to various law enforcement and commercial databases. The initial step will enable CBP to efficiently identify shipments that pose a potential risk.
Previously, most cargo shipments were not assessed for risk prior to arrival because non-maritime inbound shipments entered the U.S. without being screened by an automated targeting system.
"When we are able to obtain better information prior to a shipment's arrival, we will be able to do a more effective job in combating terrorism," said Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. "These rules will do just that."
The Trade Act takes the U.S. beyond the maritime 24-Hour Rule to incorporate advance electronic information for all cargo shipments coming into the country. This includes commercial trucking, air freight, and rail shipments.
The new timelines set out by the Trade Act will require shipments inbound to the United States to provide cargo data four hours prior to arriving by air (or prior to departure from some nearby locales); two hours prior to arrival when shipped by rail; 24 hours before arrival when shipped by sea; and an hour when arriving by truck. Cargo and truck transport companies that meet the U.S. government's Free And Secure Trade (FAST) critera have until 30 minutes prior to reaching the U.S. border to transmit data.
For exports, the Trade Act will require data to be sent two hours prior to departure via air freight; two hours prior to reaching the U.S. border when sent by rail; 24 hours by sea; and one hour prior to reaching the border by truck.