In a conference call to the Trade on Wednesday, September 6, CBP's Trade Transformation Office detailed necessary procedures for cargo destined to U.S. ports that are closed due Hurricane Irma. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, diversion of cargo to open ports was a key factor in allowing trade to continue to operate in the face of the closures of Texas and Louisiana seaports.
CBP recognizes that the current extraordinary weather situation created by Hurricane Irma may cause many ocean vessels to divert from their intended port of unlading to other port locations for discharge purposes. To ensure smooth processing of bills and associated status notifications in the new port of unlading, CBP reminds the carriers that they should amend the manifest to reflect the new port of unlading. This action will ensure that the automated terminals at the new port of discharge will receive the appropriate notifications. Ports should not penalize carriers for Trade Act violations caused by diversion of cargo. When diverting to another port, please send the new destination port to OFO-MANIFEST@CBP.DHS.GOV. For those ships that have already diverted, CBP asks that the new port also be sent to the same mailbox.
Entries that have already been filed will not usually need to be amended. The following scenarios have been identified as most likely diversion scenarios:
• Scenario 1: At the time of the diversion, both the entry and summary have already been filed at the original port (e.g. Miami or San Juan), nothing needs to be done with either the entry or summary.
• Scenario 2: At the time of the diversion, a certified summary had already been filed at the original port (e.g. Miami or San Juan), nothing needs to be done with the certified summary.
• Scenario 3: At the time of the diversion, the entry had already been filed at the original port (e.g. Miami or San Juan), but the summary had not been filed. In this case, it is recommended to file the summary using the same entry port as the entry was filed.
• Scenario 4. At the time of the diversion, neither the entry nor summary had been filed at the original port (e.g. Miami or San Juan). In this scenario, both the entry and summary will be filed at the new (diverted) port.
• Scenario 5. In lieu of diversion to a domestic port, the cargo is offloaded at ports in Mexico or Canada for routing into the U.S. via rail or truck. In this scenario, manifests will need to be provided by border carriers in the appropriate systems, original entries destined for original U.S. ports will need to canceled and refiled for the new land border port or an in-bond move will need to be requested to move the cargo to the port of entry.
The projected path of Hurricane Irma appears that it will cause disruptions to ports in Puerto Rico and Florida initially. At the present time, U.S. Fish and Wildlife reports its offices at the Port of Miami will be closed Thursday with plans to reopen Monday after the assessment of any damages. The Port of Tampa offices will be closed on Thursday, Friday and Monday and will also reassess damages before reopening. The Port of San Juan is closed until further notice. CBP offices are currently operational in the Ports of Miami and Tampa. The Key West field office is closed. Depending on Irma's path, additional ports in the Southeastern U.S and even the Mid-Atlantic States are preparing for possible severe conditions. CCS will be monitoring the situation and make changes to the process as appropriate to ensure that trade into the U.S. continues to operate during this weather event.
To address issues that may arise during this time, any penalties incurred for failures due to the effects of Hurricane Irma will be evaluated by CBP on a case by case basis for penalty mitigation.
CBP also released their Cargo Clearance Center Hurricane Irma Operation Schedule. It can be found here.