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Cross-Border Trucks Risk Increased CBP Penalties

On January 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began enforcing a regulation requiring carriers to file an advance electronic manifest for Section 321 merchandise – goods valued at $800 or less that are allowed to enter the U.S. duty-free and tax-free.

The explosion of cross-border e-commerce in the United States is bringing with it increased scrutiny and enforcement of electronic shipment filing that’s leaving truck drivers more exposed to monetary fines, according to U.S. trade media.

In an alert published at the end of last year, CBP noted that a technical glitch in its Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system was limiting electronic manifest filing for Section 321 merchandise to shipments of 5,000 or less when transported by truck. CBP said it would not pursue penalties until ACE technical difficulties were fixed. However, carriers with 5,000 shipments or less filing manually could still be penalized, CBP stated, with fines of $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for subsequent offenses.

“Because most trucking companies along on the southern border rely on a U.S. or Mexican broker to file their manifests, it will be the trucker, not the broker, that will be fined for not filing electronically,” Tom Gould, senior director for customs and international trade at the law firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, told FreightWaves.

Before March 10, 2016, the “de minimis” value of duty-free good was set at $200, but was raised to $800 to make it faster and less expensive for the government to clear imports as e-commerce shipments grew. In addition to not exceeding $800 in value, goods cannot be split among several lots under a single order or contract, and must be imported into the U.S. by one person per day.

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