Census to require SED e-filing, other export measures

Census to require SED e-filing, other export measures

WASHINGTON - The Census Bureau is giving exporters a heads-up on pending changes in export rules which emphasize greater cargo security.

Those changes include mandatory electronic filing of export declarations; an overhaul of the bureau's foreign trade statistical rules; stiffer penalties for violating export rules, and changes to post-departure filing required by new Customs advance cargo manifest rules, according to Charles A. Woods, assistant chief of Census' foreign trade division.

"They are such major changes, we're giving people a couple of chances to make comments," Woods said.

Census published a notice of its plans in Wednesday's Federal Register. It will accept comments on the notice until Nov. 21. Woods said that Census will published proposed rules before the end of the year, and will allow another 60 days for comments.

Woods said that Census intends to have new rules for mandatory electronic filing of export declarations in place by April 2004 to coincide with software changes in the Automated Export System (AES).

Elimination of paper Shippers' Export Declarations (SEDs) has long been a Census goal, but heightened security over the past two years has given greater urgency to AES use for all export documents.

Woods said that Census currently is receiving about 140,000 SEDs a month, or 13 percent of all export documents. He said exporters' agents who have not automated file 70 percent to 80 percent of the paper declarations.

The re-writing of the Foreign Trade Statistical Rules will delete references to SEDs, and incorporate higher civil and criminal penalties authorized by Congress in 2002. Exporters who violate the rules may face fines from $1,000 to $10,000 per day per violation, Woods said.

Another Census proposal, licensing of AES filers, has been temporarily shelved, Woods said. It will require legislative changes to give Census the authority to refuse or revoke AES licenses.

Woods said the licensing authority would be similar to what the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and Federal Maritime Commission have for licensing brokers and ocean transportation intermediaries.