August 8, 2008
In a notice published in the Federal Register on August 7, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that pursuant to 6 U.S.C. 944, as amended by Section 1701 of Title XVII (¡±Maritime Cargo¡±) of the Implementing Recommendations of the 911 Commission Act of 2007 (911 Act), all maritime containers in transit to the United States (all loaded containers, including foreign cargo remaining on board (FROB)), are required to be sealed with a seal meeting the ISO/PAS 17712 standard, effective October 15, 2008. This statutory requirement is coming into force because the Department of Homeland Security has failed to issue regulations establishing minimum standards and procedures for securing such containers.
ISO/PAS 17712 requires that container freight seals meet or exceed certain standards for strength and durability so as to prevent accidental breakage, early deterioration (due to weather conditions, chemical action, etc.), or undetectable tampering under normal usage. The standard also requires that each seal be clearly and legibly marked with a unique identification number.
The agency recognizes that some types of containers cannot be readily secured by use of a container freight seal meeting the ISO/PAS 17712 standard, including tanks, non-standard containers (such as open top containers), or containers that simply cannot accommodate a seal meeting the standard (such as custom built containers). These types of containers are not subject to the statutory requirement, according to CBP.
CBP says that it will consider 6 U.S.C. 944 to be violated if a loaded container that is subject to the sealing requirements arrives by vessel at a port of entry in the United States on or after October 15, 2008, either (i) with no seal or (ii) with a seal that does not meet thestandard. CBP may assess a civil penalty against the party responsible for the violation of 6 U.S.C. 944 under 19 U.S.C. 1595a(b) for the attempted introduction of merchandise into the United States contrary to law. The agency plans to phase in the assessment of penalties for violation of the container sealing requirements.
Also, CBP is reminding vessel carriers that, pursuant to 19 CFR 4.7(b)(2) and 4.7a(c)(4)(xiv), they must transmit all seal numbers to CBP 24 hours before cargo is laden aboard a vessel at a foreign port via the Vessel Automated Manifest System (AMS).
For further information, contact Leslie Fleming Luczkowski, Cargo and Conveyance Security, Office of Field Operations, (202) 344-1927.
Copies of ISO/PAS 17712 may be purchased from the International Organization for Standardization, 1, rue de Varemb¨¦, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland or the American National Standards Institute, 25 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036.