Highway carriers are hearing more and more from their customers today that they want to move e-commerce shipments from Canada or Mexico into the USA using section 321 because their customers want to save paying duty & tax on their shipments.  The use of entry type section 321 has dramatically increased in usage from February 2016 after CBP (Customs & Border Protection) raised the de minimis value from $200 to $800.

What this means is an individual in the US may import $800 a day duty & tax-free.  There are certain limitations, however.

Section 321 Restrictions

  • Products regulated by the following PGA’s (Participating Government Agencies) can not be imported using the section 321 process
    • Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
    • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA)
    • S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    • National Highway Transport and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
      • The following FDA products can be imported using Section 321
      • Dinnerware
      • Cosmetics
      • Radiation-emitting non-medical devices (Microwaves, TV’s, CD players)
      • Biological samples for laboratory testing
      • Food (excluding ackees, pufferfish, raw clams, raw oysters, raw mussels, and foods packed in airtight containers stored at room temperature)

Uploading Section 321 Shipment Data

Trucking companies can upload large amounts of section 321 shipments using Customs City Global Solutions eManifest service.  Carriers can upload more than 10K shipments at a time.  The upload format can be one of the following formats:

  • JSON
  • XML
  • CSV

After your trip and shipments are accepted in ACE make sure you print your ACE Cover Sheet which serves as a barcoded summary of the trip and shipment details submitted in ACE.  Have your driver present this cover sheet to the officer if requested.

Average Inspection Times at the Border

Trucking companies with less than 1,000 shipments on the truck are usually not stopped for inspection.  Trucking companies with more than 10K shipments on a truck should expect to be stopped at the border for a random inspection of shipments lasting from 2- 3 hours.  This time can vary depending on the port of crossing.  The CBP officer will flag the shipments they would like inspected and the time it takes to find the shipments, have the officer conduct the inspection can vary depending on how easy the shipments are to find on the truck.

All of the milestone events during the section 321 process will be communicated in real-time via email.  The usual events you can expect to receive via email will include the following:

  • Trip accepted
  • Trip arrived
  • Customs hold placed at Port of Discharge
  • Customs Hold Removed at Port of Discharge
  • Entered & Released: General Examination
  • Trip Released

Section 321 Data Pilot

CBP is starting a new “trusted trader” program called the Section 321 Data Pilot which will work similarly to the Nexus and Global Entry programs in place for passengers crossing at land border crossings and airports.  The idea is if trusted traders provide more information about the shipments before they arrive at the border then CBP can potentially let these shipments pass and focus their effort on other carriers that did not submit this extra data.  With e-commerce shipments growing rapidly CBP needs to find ways to streamline the flow of legitimate trade so CBP can maintain the service standards that companies have grown accustomed to.  The extra data CBP requires from participants in the section 321 data pilot program are the following:

  • Cargo Description
  • Mode of Transport
  • Final recipient name & address
  • Security scan image (airfreight)
  • Seller name & address
  • The listed price on the online marketplace
  • Product picture or link to the product on the online marketplace
  • Known customer flag (repeat business between the shipper and carrier)

Customs City Global Solutions Inc. partners with highway carriers that take customs compliance seriously.  Sign up for a 30-day free trial today and enjoy peace of mind knowing our trained staff are going to be with you every step of the way.  Our team is available 24x 7 via phone, email or live chat.  If you have any questions about section 321 click the live chat icon below and get started today.

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