Two Minutes in Trade:
Podcast from Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg

By Lenny P. Feldman*

Staying on top of the international trade developments can be difficult these days but listening to St&R’s Two Minutes in Trade podcast is like having your own daily briefing.

Lenny Feldman, Senior Member, discusses CBP’s new regulatory framework addressing international mail. Podcast link follows or simply read below: TMIT – International Mail.

Today’s Discussion: International Mail – A Special Set of Regulatory Requirements

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” That’s a motto that long has been associated with the U.S. Postal Service. Now many will be asking what impact will the new regulations making advance electronic data or “AED” mandatory have on e-commerce sent through post or through other channels.

CBP explains that the postal AED requirements are comparable to those imposed on non-mail shipments. However, the international postal framework requires one data set regardless of the mode of transportation. Because the STOP Act specifically requires USPS to provide AED, CBP developed the rule in consultation with them. The goal was to balance CBP’s expected improvement in cargo safety and security, with the impact of the information collection and targeting on the flow of commerce.

CBP’s regulatory framework for mail importations addresses various aspects. With regard to time frames, CBP must electronically receive the AED from USPS as soon as practicable, but always before loading the inbound international mail shipment onto the transporting conveyance. For data, the rule requires USPS to transmit item attribute information or “ITMATT” and pre-advice of dispatch information or “dispatch.” The ITMATT is the information about the attributes or characteristics of mail items and contents already collected through customs declaration forms, including the contents and value of the goods in the package as well as sender and recipient information. The dispatch relates to the movement of the package by the carrier and is the type of information that the USPS typically collects from letter or parcel bills including the scheduled date and time of arrival in the U.S., transport information and the destination international mail facility.

CBP explained that the data elements account for how, under ordinary commercial practices, the USPS is able to verify the information. Mandatory data includes: sender’s name and address, recipient’s name and address, detailed description of contents, quantity, weight, item ID, declared value and designated operator. An HTSUS number, country of origin, importer’s reference, invoice number and product or other agency restrictions all are optional.

Exclusions apply for countries that do not have the capacity to collect and transmit AED, represent a low risk and account for a low volume. The new regulations, consistent with the STOP Act, do require USPS to comply with the AED requirements for 100 percent of mail shipments by December 31, 2020. Although violative shipments could be refused or lead to a penalty of $5,000, CBP will show restraint in enforcing the AED requirements for twelve months although USPS still is expected to make significant progress, in good faith, towards compliance.

The operational and economic impact these requirements will have to the postal service as well as other e-commerce distribution channels with different requirements, yet similar concerns, will be the subject of much lively discussion ahead. Still as the motto goes, don’t except even this new regulatory framework to stop your e-commerce packages from finding their way through the mail to your doorstep.

Lenny Feldman is a Member of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A., resident in the Miami office and a member of the firm’s Operating Committee. He currently co-chairs the twenty-member U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee providing strategic recommendations directly to CBP and the departments of Homeland Security and the Treasury on issues such as e-commerce policy, trade partnership programs, enforcement and facilitation mechanisms, and regulatory reform.

Mr. Feldman innovatively and resourcefully resolves complex issues pertaining to import classification compliance and tariff engineering; valuation requirements and first sale duty savings; seizure and penalty prior disclosures and mitigation petitions; antidumping and countervailing duty administration and enforcement; trade preference qualification for NAFTA/USMCA, CAFTA-DR, and other programs; intellectual property pre-compliance and forfeiture defense; importer/broker compliance reviews and cost savings analysis; export control reviews and enforcement strategies; and CTPAT/border security certification, validation, and suspension/revocation support.

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