With today's reopening of the Federal Government, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that this is the last Trade Status Update call scheduled that addresses the most recent government shutdown. CBP thanked the Trade for their patience during the shutdown and asked for continued patience, as it may take a while for things to get back up and running.
In regard to the Customs Broker License Exam, CBP clarified a few points they made last week. For the upcoming April exam, the 2018 HTS will be used. Traditionally, CBP uses the previous calendar year's materials for their April exams and the current calendar year's materials for their October exam. This means the 2019 HTS will be used in the October exam. Registration for the April exam is expected to open in a few weeks. For those preparing to take the exam, you may consult CBP's website for updates.
The 21st Century Customs Framework Meeting was the next topic of discussion. The public meeting to discuss the new framework is still scheduled for March 1. CBP is hoping for as many comments as possible. If you haven't yet submitted your comments, be advised that the February 4 is the last day to do so. For those looking to attend, the public meeting has sold out, but registration is still open for those wishing to participate via conference call.
CBP is not yet prepared to announce a date for the deployment of Form 5106 but will be meeting to discuss deployment plans and will consult with the trade for a date that is "comfortable." More information is forthcoming.
As for cargo release and entry processing, CBP acknowledged the terrific job the ports and the Centers did to keep trade moving throughout the shutdown. Now that the government is back up and running, PGAs that have release authority, or at least regulatory authority over imported and exported goods, are back today. CBP expects a backlog for the PGAs to work through before things get back to normal and ask for patience as they get up and running. If you have a particular question regarding cargo release, start with the ports. If you are having systemic issues, you can contact either the Office of Trade or the Office of Trade Relations. Additionally, you may contact Tom Overacker or Jim Swanson regarding these issues as well.
The next topic of discussion was vessel updates in ACE. The personnel in charge of these updates have returned. CBP will begin updating immediately, however, the size of the backlog is currently unknown. If you have any questions or issues, please reach out to either the help desk or Jim Swanson.
In regard to the delays in the processing of commercial user fee payments, CBP recently posted guidance in the form of a CSMS message. Due to the significant backlog, please continue following the CSMS workaround.
As a follow-up to a question asked last week regarding the status of CBP labs, CBP stated the labs were operational throughout the shutdown but the trade analysts (roughly one or two per lab) were furloughed. The labs were focused exclusively on health and safety issues. Some of the traditional trade laboratory work, such as testing water-resistant versus water repellent, was not taking place.
For those in the Trade who have export shipments on hold pending review by CBP, there is a "not insignificant" backlog and as a result, there is an approximately two-week delay.
As for an update to the scheduling of regulatory audits and what the plan is going forward, CBP responded by saying that Regulatory Audit is back online and are putting together a strategy of when they will resume opening conferences and if it is before or after February 15. More information will be released as decisions are made.
When asked if CBP had given any thought to the March 1 21st Century Customs Framework meeting, or other meetings around that time, CBP said it is dependent on the meeting. They have already rescheduled some of their meetings already and are looking through details of meetings that take place after February 15 and are trying to be considerate of the arrangements the Trade need to make.In regard to in bond regulation and if new dates have been made available, CBP said that while no new date has been announced, they are currently in the process of reevaluating. CBP is looking to reschedule sessions they were working on, but there is no expected change until they have their in-person in-bond working group and full feedback from the Trade