OHL, USFIA's Customs Broker Partner for 2015, has provided updates on some key customs issues. 

What’s Next for Customs & the CEEs? 

With the enforcement of ACE, the Centers of Excellence & Expertise, and the ever-changing importing world we currently work in, it seems as if every day is filled with new surprises. At the end of this month, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) is holding the West Coast Trade Symposium, and after having spoken to the CEE directly regarding the symposium, we should all expect more updates and changes to be announced in the near future. 

At OHL International, we are very fortunate to have a great internal team that keeps the company as a whole updated, and on point with the evolution of our importing process. ACE has and will remain a current hot topic for years to come, but another hot topic, and one that should be closely paid attention to, is the expansion of the Centers of Excellence & Expertise. 

The first three centers expanded are the CEE for Electronics; the CEE for Petroleum, Natural Gas & Minerals; and the CEE for Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals. This will be a roll-out transition, where the Centers will gradually expand operations and trade authority for post-release trade processes for their respective industry tariff lines, for certain ports of entry. Not only will the CEE have trade authority over those importers that voluntarily applied for participation in the CEE, but also for all importers who import commodities classified under the respective tariff lines.  

Having worked closely and hands on with a few of our importers that are current Apparel, Footwear & Textile CEE participants, this expansion of the first three Centers raises some concerns for us as the customs broker. 

We have worked together with both the importer and the CEE to set up and create processes and procedures that have benefited all parties involved. One concern is that with this expansion, will the relationship and the current processes for those importers that are current CEE participants be compromised? 

With over 64,000 entities importing footwear, textile, and wearing apparel, it is inevitable that changes will occur once the Apparel, Footwear & Textile CEE eventually expands. Although there has been no announcement as of yet for the expansion of any additional centers,  the expansion of the first three Centers should undoubtedly be looked upon as an example of what we could see for the future of the AFT CEE.  

That being said, we look forward to the West Coast Trade Symposium on May 27th and all the latest updates and announcements that will be disclosed. If you have any questions about the CEEs, please let us know. We will be conducting a Q&A with Dora Murphy, Director of the Apparel, Footwear, & Textile CEE, for an upcoming newsletter, and would love to include USFIA members’ questions and concerns. 

Update on ISF Requirements 

Since the inception of the Importer Security Filing (ISF) requirements, Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has taken a measured approach to enforcement. The 12-month Headquarters Review period concluded on May 13, 2015, and effective May 14, 2015, the current policy has changed. 

CBP held an ISF webinar on May 5, 2015 that addressed changes that will be effective May 14, 2015, when CBP will begin the next stage of ISF enforcement. The local CBP Ports will initiate ISF enforcement for ISF violations, and copies will no longer be sent to CBP Headquarters for review and approval. The local Ports will not be required to issue three-strike warning letters before issuing liquidated damages. 

CBP Headquarters has given the Ports enforcement guidelines. These guidelines outline continued focus on repeat violators and ISFs that are significantly late. CBP Cargo Holds will continue for ISF non-filing. Liquidated damages can be issued for no ISF on file, significantly late ISF, bill of lading not matching upon arrival, inaccurate or incomplete filings and ISF flexible filings not followed up with a compliant transaction 24 hours before arrival. All ports will have visibility to an importer’s ISF timeliness and liquidated damages history.

C-TPAT benefits do not include the ability to bypass the ISF filing requirements. It could, in fact, negatively affect C-TPAT status or application if repeat ISF violations occur. 

For ISF Liquidated Damages mitigating best practices, refer to page 28 and 29 of the webinar presentation, which can be viewed here: http://www.cbp.gov/trade/stakeholder-engagement/webinars

If you have questions about this update, or any other questions, contact Erin Williamson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

P.S. Don't forget to register for our upcoming webinar with OHL on responding to FTA verification requests on May 28th!