In order to modernize and quicken the process of importing low-value shipments (less than $800 USD) to the US, crucial changes have been affected by CBP (Customs & Border Protection). One of the most significant changes happened in May 2015. These laws put particular emphasis on the mandatory use of the ACE eManifest system which facilitates mandatory electric eManifest filings for all modes of transportation. 

All modes of transportation affect carriers, freight forwarders, importers, exporters and customs brokers. They are required by this law to make detailed submission of cargo details to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This data gets submitted just before the carriers get to the border (truck 1 hour before, rail, 2 hours before, air, 4 hours before and ocean 24 hours before). 

This type of regulation is useful because the customs personnel are in a better position to flag high-risk shipments. At the same time, the clearance of low-risk shipments is done a lot faster. Again the process is useful for all shipment types as there is faster facilitation of service at the border, but also they are able to avoid any heavy penalties or delay of shipment for their cargo.

What is CBP Section 321 Shipment Type?

The regulation for CBP section 321 has increased the US de minis level concerning all the international shipments headed to the US, from $ 200 to $800. It is a duty-free,19 CFR section 321 that includes a series of actions through which international goods, which are valued $800 or less are allowed to enter the country.  

One of the main advantages concerning this process is that it saves so much on time, personnel and paperwork. Clearance for these types of shipments is also quite fast and allows time for CBP to deal with much bigger issues at the US border. 

Section 321 General Restrictions

There are a number of restrictions when it comes to 321 shipment types. These include:  

-Before the release of any shipment, all of the goods must undergo a thorough inspection. This is mandatory and it does not discriminate the value of goods.  

-All goods are subject to Anti-dumping, as well as countervailing duty. 

The CBP works in coordination with other regulatory bodies such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Safety Inspection Service(FSIS), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), National Highway Transport and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect all merchandise to ensure compliance to required standards. 

In the event a shipment is found to be high-risk, chances of being denied entry into the country are always high.     

Section 321 Shipment Exemptions

Some shipments are usually exempted from the rigorous process of inspections. From the beginning of July 2017 exemptions include shipments for products such as cosmetics and dinnerware. Radiation-emitting devices that are of non-medical al in nature are also exempted. Included in this batch too, are biological samples meant for laboratory testing.  

Except for food such as puffer fish and raw oysters, as well as food at room temperature which are packed in tight containers, the rest of the food items are exempted. 

CBP Section 321 Daily Shipments Restrictions

Regulations for daily restrictions include one shipment for every individual per day. These restrictions also apply to companies who can also just make one shipment on each given day. The law also stipulates that the daily cargo cannot exceed the recommended value which is $ 800 and less. 

No multiple shipments are permitted, and importers are advised not to consolidate multiple shipments into one single shipment as the total value cost will go beyond the specified $800. Still, for every specific shipment that is manifested, a separate shipment control number (SCN) is allocated to it. 

The exemption from this law applies to gifts from people based in other foreign countries. Again, the exemption is permitted if the product is an accompaniment of the person entering the country; or if the goods are for personal and household use for individuals who are residing in the US.  

Section 321 And ACE eManifest

ACE eManifest rules are applied under different circumstances. For instance, if all the shipments a carrier is carrying are low-value section 321 goods, then they are not subject to ACE eManifest. However, starting January 1st, 2019 that rule will be changing to have all section 321 shipments manifested in ACE.  But in the event, the that the carrier is carrying a variety of goods which include 321 shipment type, as well as other ACE shipment types, all shipments have to be declared under the ACE eManifest regulations.    

Entry Requirements for section 321

Section 321 is an informal type of entry   Filing the required paperwork for section 321 entry is simple enough since all the information is automated in ACE eManifest. The process of filing hence includes the provision of some key data and information regarding the shipment. This kind of information requires details such as   

-The unique shipment control number usually abbreviated as (SCN) 

-Information regarding the country of origin of the shipment 

-Details such as the country, name, and address of the shipper.  

-Additional details are also sought which include the value of the cargo.

-A detailed and precise description of the cargo is also provided.  

-Information on the quantity and shipping weight of the merchandise must be forthcoming. 

-The value of cargo for section 321 is required to be $ 800 or less

What are Direct Injection Shipments?

Direct injection shipment is a timely logistical solution to e-commerce’s supply chain. It involves the art of putting shipments in smaller sizes and weight in the country of origin. They are labelled with domestic shipping identification at the country of origin. Once done, these types of shipments are then sent via a direct flight to the destination country. In most circumstances, the destination country is usually the US, where section 321 is actively in use. 

The carrier also provides tracking code for the shipment, and in such cases, ACE Air gives express permission to the shipper to deliver the cargo directly to the customer in the destination country. The cargo is usually delivered on already paid duty. 

Since these types of shipments depend largely on their volume and weight, the value is always taken into consideration. Therefore, the value does not go beyond the stipulated $800 for each shipment.

How to Comply with Section 321?

A series of actions are part of the compliance process. This mainly includes  

-The use of ACE secure data portal through which interested parties such as traders, relevant government agencies as well CPB easily communicate with other and share relevant information. This secure portal is free to all users and what you need is a computer, internet connectivity, and a web browser. 

-You also have the option of using another service provider such as Customs City Global Solutions Inc. as it comes with just as many advantages and more as the ACE portal.   They offer crucial solutions such as ACE eManifest solutions like Air eManifest, and Truck eManifest; and the automated section 321 entry filings for merchandise for both high volume and smaller carriers as well. 

-The best way to get reliable and quick compliance results is to integrate internal systems which help you to avoid repetitive and double entering of data, which can also be prone to uncalled errors. 

-One of the benefits of using Customs City Global Solutions Inc. is that it is user-friendly, and you can easily upload your excel file containing relevant section 321 data. There is also no need to either install or buy costly software for this purpose.  

You also get round the clock customer support. You have the option to contact the team via email, live chat or phone, especially if you are having an issue with the software. Quick feedback is also available to you if you need information on shipment types or processing requirements to the customs. 

-Data integration with Custom City is also faster in comparison to manual entry which consumes quite a lot of time, with unnecessary duplication and repetitions, which is also the main cause of errors. 


Section 321 shipment types make shipment for low-value cargo as easy as possible, enabling CBP to function more quickly and efficiently.

The fact that carriers only provide relevant data to get the necessary permissions for entry, saves on so much time for all parties concerned.   To avoid any kind of penalties and make everything run smoothly, importers and carriers can ensure that they identify each daily shipment under section 321 well in advance. This can be perfectly achieved by building a strong level of communication between all the concerned parties such as the CBP, shippers, carriers, freight forwarders as well as customs brokers hence making the whole process of shipping as responsive and easy as possible.  

Customs City Global Solutions Inc. customer support is also always working round the clock to ensure that all your concerns are addressed fully and within the shortest timeframe possible.

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