Home » Maritime » New US cargo security rules to take effect in two weeks

ADVANCE shipment details must be sent electronically to authorities before the goods arrive in or leave the US, according to new cargo security rules announced by the US government.

The regulations, intended to better identify high-risk land, sea and air shipments, go into effect in two weeks, the Department of Homeland Security said. “The rule will allow our inspectors to collect the advanced manifest and the cargo information necessary for us to identify high-risk shipments that may pose a threat,” Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said.

The new rules expand regulations passed in 2002 that require all cargo ships to provide Customs and Border Protection with a detailed description of US-bound shipments 24 hours before the vessel is loaded.

Most non-maritime shipments enter the US without being screened. The new regulations will require manifest data to be sent electronically so officials can analyze it using computer databases.

“We”re going … even further to help meet one of our chief objectives – to strengthen homeland security while ensuring the free flow of goods and commerce across our borders and through our seaports and airports by requiring all modes of transportation to provide us advanced information,” Ridge said.

Congress has stepped up criticism of cargo security, especially after new threats of attacks that might use cargo planes and some recent embarrassing incidents involving lax security and cargo shipments.

Under the new rules, airline and courier services must send their manifests four hours before arriving or two hours before leaving the US.

Manifests for rail cargo must be sent two hours before arrival or departure at the border. Trucking companies must send the information up to an hour before arriving in the US.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials will run the data through law enforcement, commercial and Homeland Security databases to determine whether a shipment could be “high risk” and potentially contain illicit cargo. If so, the goods will be searched at the point of US entry.

Officials will also check outbound cargo.

“It is important we take a look at that in terms of the terrorist threat,” said CBP commissioner Robert Bonner.

“These are called licensable goods, that may either be weapons systems and/or certain kinds of technology that we don’t want to find into the hands of rogue states or terrorists.”

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