TIACA BEST PRACTICES: CUSTOMS
The following highlights the best practices identified by TIACA as critical for expedited customs treatment of air cargo shipments.
As a general matter, customs authorities should have the capacity for:
- Providing online information about customs practices, including regulations
- Providing binding advance rulings
- Providing independent, administrative reviews/appeals
- Overall transparency
- Overall integrity
- Progressive modernization
- Automation/paperless environment
- Evaluation of data and enforcement actions based on risk assessments
- Formal consultations with the trading community for new rules and procedures
- Permitting post-release reconciliation and post-entry audits
- Penalty mitigation through a transparent, well documented process
- Separation of physical release from fiscal release.
For air cargo shipments specifically, customs authorities should:
- Specify a minimal set of data requirements. Such data should include only those elements essential to customs’ legitimate needs, and submission requirements for the data should reflect realistic timelines. Among other elements, data requirements could include port of arrival, carrier code, date of scheduled arrival, final port of lading, and descriptions/weights of cargo at the master air waybill level.
- Provide for immediate release of shipments upon receipt of the data set, supplied in advance of arrival via electronic data interface. TIACA considers the Automated Manifest System (AMS) utilized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as the processes established for maintaining dialogue with the trading community on operational issues and for periodically upgrading AMS, to be best practices in this regard.
- Develop systems that emphasize preclearance of low-risk cargo and examination of only those shipments identified by advance review as high risk. Other government agencies with border responsibilities should be incorporated into this process.
- Provide a “single window” automation system applicable to all border agencies.
- Reduce or eliminate requirements for paper supporting documents.
- Provide for “de minimis” procedures allowing immediate release and clearance for consignments below a specified value. De minimis procedures should include a mechanism for adjusting the value periodically to reflect inflation and changes in customs’ cost of doing business. Establishing de minimis procedures will allow customs authorities to be more efficient, increasing the throughput of trade and enabling authorities to focus resources on higher risk shipments.
- Establish guidelines to help customs in determining administrative actions, including assessment of penalties. As performance assessment can be subjective, guidelines would create an important standard that would add objectivity to the evaluation process. This could have a significant impact on mitigation and appeals.