Japan is set to become the latest country to require information from importers of containerized cargo before the cargo heads to sea, with its 24-hour advanced manifest rule coming into force on March 10.
The system for receiving cargo information opened for processing on March 1, with filers required to submit information with a filing deadline of March 10.
Under the regulation, non-vessel operating common carriers and ocean carriers that move containerized cargo into Japan will have to send their manifest information to the country's customs agency at least 24 hours before departure from the port of embarkation. Exceptions exist for certain short routes between neighboring nations and Japan, for which the information must be filed before departure, but not 24 hours before departure. Container cargo that will be discharged or transshipped in Japan is subject to the rule, but empty containers are excepted. Freight remaining on board (FROB) is initially exempt from filing requirements as well, according to Japan Customs.
Filers must submit the information electronically via Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System (NACCS). Japan will reject containerized imports or impose penalties if the manifest filings for security screenings aren’t sent or submitted in time.
Major NVOCCs had prepared in advance, but there was a rush among small and mid-sized NVOs in the last few weeks as the deadline approached, according to Bryn Heimbeck, president of Trade Tech, which assists NVOs in meeting the new Japanese rules. Heimbeck said the “real push forward” came when the major container lines announced that they would not accept cargo from an NVO that hadn’t filed in accordance with the regulations. Unlike in the U.S. and Canada, there is no “carrier option” for filing; NVOCCs need to make their own filing arrangements.
Hapag-Lloyd, for example, in a Feb. 11 notice informed customers of the looming deadline and said that it was adopting a “No Doc – No Load policy for shipments where the shipping instruction is not received at the established documentation cut-off.” Maersk Line, which will begin requiring compliance as of March 8 (load country local time), will require shipping instructions to be submitted no later than 36 hours ahead of the container yard cut-off time at the loading port. The carrier noted in a Feb. 26 customer advisory that late submission or missing shipping instructions would lead Japan Customs to reject the loading of the cargo, and shipments that have a “Do Not Load (DNL)” notice from Japan Customs will no longer be loaded on vessels with a direct Japan call as of March 8.
Heimbeck predicted that many NVOs will be moving to comply over the next several days and said the scramble may “cause some pain” as staff learn new systems and then in turn must train shippers to meet tighter deadlines. Some “normal hiccups” may be seen as real data rather than test data moves through the system, Heimbeck said, but he expects the implementation of the rule to be running smoothly within 30 days.
In reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks and the realization that there was little security around containerized cargo, the U.S. in late 2002 became the first nation to require advanced filing information. Canada and Mexico followed suit in 2004 and 2007, respectively. China imposed its own rules in 2009, and the European Union did so as of the beginning of 2011. The U.S. subsequently adopted additional container security measures such as the C-TPAT program and the Importer Security Filing that have yet to be adapted by other nations.