The Census Bureau recently published final rulings regarding mandatory Automated Export System (AES) filing. The new regulations go into effect on July 2, 2008. Shippers, forwarders, and ocean carriers who file or allow inaccurate or tardy export documentation will be subject to penalties that are much higher than those currently levied.

These new regulations do not change the substantive requirements applicable to the filing of data by exporters. Thus, exporters who have been required to file a Shipper’s Export Declaration (“SED”) will remain obligated to do so. However, after July 2, the use of paper SEDs will be prohibited and exporters will be required to file export data electronically in the AES system. The obligation to file export data falls on the U.S. Principal Party in Interest (“USPPI”), which is generally the exporter. The new regulations spell out the particulars of filing requirements.

The USPPI will be required to provide the exporting carrier (Seaboard) with proof that the filing has been made (or a statement that the cargo is exempt from the filing requirement) at least 24 hours prior to loading of the cargo on the vessel at the U.S. port. Under the regulations, Seaboard will be prohibited from loading cargo for which it has not received one of the following within 24 hours of scheduled vessel loading:

1) an Internal Transaction Number (“ITN”), which is generated by the AES system and serves as proof that the USPPI has properly filed its export information;

2) an authorized exemption legend for cargo not subject to the export filing requirements (e.g., Canadian destination cargo and shipments valued at less than $2,500); or

3) a post-departure filing citation, if the USPPI is an authorized post-departure filer (previously known as “Option 4”).

Violations of the regulations are subject to civil fines of up $50,000 and willful violation can result in imprisonment. Thus, Seaboard will be prohibited from loading cargo for which it has not timely received proper documentation and appreciates the usual cooperation from its valued customers to ensure timely delivery of documents.