by Edited by Elana Varon

IT Requirement: Computerizing Shipping Manifests

Sep 15, 20032 mins


Proposed Rules Add IT Requirement to Land, Air Shipments

New import regulations being finalized this year may force companies importing products into the United States by land or air to computerize their shipping manifests if they have not already done so.

The regulations would require companies shipping products into and out of the United States to electronically file manifests with the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, in advance of the shipments. The new rules, governing all types of transportation, are similar in some ways to a 2002 rule requiring a notice to be filed 24 hours before the products are loaded onto a ship bound for the United States (see “New Rules for Imports Will Save Supply Chain Costs,”

The minimum notice for a shipment coming into the United States by air would be four hours before arrival, truck shipments would be one hour or less, and rail shipments would be two hours.

An earlier version of the regulation, more similar to the 24-hour rule, prompted complaints from industries such as computer vendors that rely on air freight for overnight service to customers, but newer proposals released at the end of July seem to be less controversial. The DHS argues that the new regulations are needed to give border agents more notice on shipments coming into the country, according to an agency announcement about the proposal. “Obviously, this is a national security issue, so we understand why they want to do this,” says AnnMarie Treglia, director of international trade regulation for AeA, a technology trade association. “But things that look good on paper don’t always work in the real world.”

George Weise, a former U.S. Customs Service commissioner and now a vice president with software and consulting vendor Vastera, says the new regulations will force companies to abandon fax and paper manifests to keep up with the regulation’s electronic filing requirements. The customs agency operates several systems through which it accepts electronic manifests via electronic data interchange, but not all shippers use them. The new regulations are due to be finished by November.

-Grant Gross