An Express Consignment Carrier Facility (ECCF) refers to a shared or separate specialized facility that has been authorized by the port director to handle the inspection and clearance of express consignment shipments. It is, for the most part, a bonded warehouse with the authorization and capacity to process high volumes of parcels coming into the United States. Integrators such as DHL, UPS, and FedEx often operate as hubs as well as ECCFs. International couriers and integrators often have their ECCFs at major ports of entry such as LAX, SFO, JFK, ORD, MIA, and CVG.
For high-volume parcel shipments to the United States there are typically three options;
1. Send parcels through integrators such as DHL, UPS, and FedEx
2. Send parcels to the US through the United States Postal Service (USPS)
3. Send parcels directly to the US through ECCF’s before injection into a domestic delivery system. If you are looking for reliability and efficiency, integrators such as UPS, FedEx or DHL are excellent for their integrated networks. However, since they are well-established in the American market with little competition, they tend to charge high prices. This makes it difficult to get cost-effective prices for e-commerce type shipments which tend to be low margin.
How to Clear Shipments at an ECCF:
- Organize for air freight line haul to the express consignment carrier facility.
- Find a customs broker or freight forwarder near the ECCF or CFS that has the approval to clear section 321 shipments at the airport your cargo is arriving at. An informal entry may also need to be submitted by the customs broker to request the release of the shipments
- Set up procedures to transmit electronic ACE Air eManifest data in compliance with ACE Air and AMS Air regulations.
- Find a suitable domestic distribution partner who can pick up cargo from the ECCF or CFS and deliver to an integrator like FedEx or UPS or drop off at USPS.
What about the Container Freight Stations (CFS)
The best thing about the CFS is that importers may get the same level of customs clearance but not have to pay the CBP merchandise processing fee (MPF) that applies to most shipments that pass through an ECCF.
The Postal Networks
Over the years Postal Networks have streamlined and improved their systems that they are now some of the most popular ways that e-commerce shippers use to send parcels to the US. Integrators have created products that piggyback on the postal network. These products work as feeders from the integrator network into the postal network as a way to reduce the cost for less time-sensitive cargo. Some of the integrator products which feed into the postal network:
- FedEx SmartPost
- DHL Global Mail
These products have made these companies some of the biggest customers of the US Postal Service.
USPS Global Direct Entry
Another option for e-commerce sellers is the USPS Global Direct Entry product. Global Direct Entry works with pre-qualified last-mile vendors who will deliver cargo after CBP (Customs & Border Protection) has cleared it.
USPS also has a list of vendors on their website who can assist with shipping preparation, transportation, and printing of domestic labels. Applying the USPS labels on the packages in the origin country is also known as direct injection shipping. The shipping term has its name because after clearance at the ECCF or CFS the packages are dropped off at the USPS. These vendors know how to work with CBP to help facilitate the clearance of your cargo from an ECCF or CFS facility.
USPS Parcel Select
Another cost-effective solution is the USPS Parcel Select Mail service. This product allows organizations to access its huge and strategic delivery network at discounted rates depending on how close the point of injection is to the delivery location. USPS Parcel Select is cheaper to use and is even used by the integrators (FedEx, UPS) to reduce costs.
The USPS has many products to help facilitate international trade and the increased quality of service from the USPS has made it an attractive option for international e-commerce shipments. Along with these positive points, there are usually less intensive examinations when using the postal stream as compared to the customs clearance process using an integrator or commercial carrier. However, the postal service continues to be highly unreliable, particularly during the high demand holiday seasons.
Express Consignment Courier Facility + Postal Delivery Advantage
The combination of domestic postal delivery systems and express consignment courier facilities by integrators is one of the most cost-effective solutions for volume parcel flows to the US. It not only provides more control but is also more efficient and cost-effective for e-commerce companies.
Cargo Clearance Options at the ECCF
1. Low-Value Shipments (Section 321) – These are shipments valued under $800. These shipments will be cleared free of tax and duty.
- Informal Entry – Any shipments with a value between $801 and $2500 that are imported by carriers or express consignment operators will be processed under informal entry procedures.
- Formal Entry – Any shipments worth more than $2,500 in value will be subjected to formal entry clearance procedures.
- Entries necessitating “other government agencies” (OGA’s) – These may include prohibited or restricted merchandise. For instance, merchandise subject to quotas or similar quantitative restrictions. Cargo controlled by an OGA usually does not qualify for section 321 release.
Most parcel shipments that enter the ECCF fall under Section 321, which means that they can be submitted under consolidated air manifests using the ACE Air eManifest system. An informal entry may also have to be submitted by a customs broker.
There are many solutions for sending e-commerce and high volume parcels into the United States. Using an ECCF via integrators, USPS, or directly via a cargo line-haul carrier is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of gaining a competitive advantage for e-commerce shippers.