With a government shutdown looming, you may be wondering – what does this mean for my incoming cargo? Ideally, it will be business as usual with no significant impacts. Regardless of what happens, here is some information and tips pertaining to these exceptional circumstances.
Historically, a government shut down will result in a furlough of employees deemed to work in “non-essential” functions. Since CBP (Customs and Border Protection) is considered essential, officers will still be working to clear import cargo.
The situation gets a little more complicated when cargo has special requirements, gets flagged, or held for any reason. While Cargo Officers are considered essential, Customs Entry Specialists are not. This means that delays which can be resolved by a Cargo Officer can be cleared for freight to proceed, while situations that specifically require input from an Entry Specialist will be on hold until Entry Specialists resume work.
CBP has stated that cargo with PGA (Participating Government Agency) requirements will see delays with ‘may proceed’ messages, as most personnel on staff with the PGAs will not be working. With limited staff available, cargo waiting for PGA review or release is one of the biggest concerns. In such cases, there likely will not be personnel around to release the cargo so it can proceed. Transferring cargo to an in-bond warehouse while it waits may be an option, but it will still be sitting - unable to proceed to final destination. Particular care and consideration should be taken with perishable imports during this time.
What can you do as an importer to prepare?
- Ensure all your documents are complete and compliant with all required data for the US Customs and PGA entries. Entries that require additional documentation, information, or are flagged for review/exam are where the problems lie. Obtaining a regular cargo release is the goal!
- Talk about ‘What if’ scenarios with your Customs Broker and forwarder so you can plan as much as possible for what steps to take should a shipment get held up.
- Understand that each scenario will be different and there may not always be a solution to get cargo moving until government employees resume work.
Should the need arise, Laufer’s operations teams are available and prepared to engage in additional communication and problem-solving tactics on a case-by-case basis. As your freight and customs brokerage partner, we will work with you to troubleshoot scenarios and get your cargo moving whenever possible.
Should you need further information or have any concerns or queries, please contact your local Laufer Customer Service, Customs Brokerage or Sales Representative.