Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CBP Ends Paper Courtesy Liquidation Notices

In an attempt to streamline the notification process and reduce mailing costs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has decided to eliminate mailing paper copies of courtesy notices of liquidation. Although not statutorily necessary, CBP had established the practice of issuing courtesy copies of liquidation notices to importers of record whose entry summaries are filed in the Automated Broker Interface (ABI). Such courtesy liquidation notices provide informal and advance notice of an entry’s liquidation date.

CBP will cease mailing paper copies, but will continue to issue electronic courtesy notices to all ABI filers, which include importers of record who file their own entries and customs brokers who file as the agent of the importer of record. Importers of record who do not file entries through ABI will continue to receive the paper liquidation notices. CBP has also indicated that importers of record with an Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Secure Data Portal Account can monitor the liquidation of their entries by using the reporting tool in the ACE Portal.

CBP estimated that upon implementation of the new policy, the agency will avoid duplication of the courtesy notices and save approximately $3,000,000 in postage annually. Although CBP received several comments praising CBP’s effort to save money, other commentators were concerned that importers of record would become completely reliant on their brokers to provide the liquidation date information that affect myriad of deadlines and customs compliance issues.

In response, CBP indicated that brokers are obligated to provide the liquidation dates. In addition, CBP responded that the agency is currently reprogramming ACE to permit all importers of record to monitor liquidation of entries filed under their importer of record numbers through the ACE Portal. CBP explained that even for those importers who do not have ACE Portal Account, an importer may gain limited access to a broker’s ACE Portal Account to obtain reports for entries filed by the broker using the importer of record number belonging to that importer. CBP is also considering posting an electronic courtesy bulletin notice of liquidation.

In light of this change, importers should consider revising their import policies to ensure that their customs brokers(1) provide the liquidation notices to importers upon receiving the electronic courtesy copy and (2) permit the importer limited access to their ACE Portal Account so that the importer can obtain reports for its entries.

The final rule is effective September 30, 2011. See 76 Fed. Reg. 50883 (Aug. 17, 2011),, CBP will implement the rule the first day on or after September 30, 2011 that CBP can provide importers with complete liquidation reports, including liquidation dates, through the ACE Portal. CBP will announce the exact date of implementation after it determines when the ACE reports will be ready.

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