OTTAWA, Ont. — The CTA and OTA suspect U.S. Customs may be unfairly fining carriers under the new prior-notice requirements for shipments to the U.S.
Carriers have begun to be hit with US$5,000 (first offence) and US$10,000 (subsequent offences) for violations under the U.S. Trade Act, which introduced the new U.S. customs prior-notice requirements for all shipments to the U.S, according to officials with the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Ontario Trucking Association.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)started enforcement for PAPS (Pre-Arrival Procesing System) shipments Dec. 15, 2004. Enforcement for in-bond shipments started Jan. 3. Initially there was an expectation that CBP would fine only those parties to the transaction who were actually responsible for the violation – including customs brokers and shippers.
But CTA and OTA officials are concerned that carriers are being fined automatically regardless of fault.They are also concerned that CBP’s stated policy that, during the preliminary phase of enforcement, attention would be focused on “egregious violations” – in other words carriers that have a history of non-compliance and/or have made no attempt to comply, is not being followed either.
According to association officials, carriers may be getting fined even when they are not responsible for the violation and have done everything reasonable to be in compliance.
Once a carrier is fined, the only recourse is to enter into a “penalty mitigation” process with the fines officer at each port, during which they must prove that someone else, for example the customs broker, was responsible for the non-compliance.
CTA and OTA officials say they are trying to address the problem, and to this end the associations are conducting a survey to determine the scope of the problem and provide further information regarding fines being assessed against carriers.
If you have received a fine for U.S. Trade Act violations, complete the survey posted in the members section of the Ontario Trucking Association Web site at www.ontruck.org or contact Rebecka Torn at firstname.lastname@example.org to or (416) 249-7401 ext. 225 to obtain a copy of the survey.
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