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Newly Expanded 321 Data Pilot Providing Faster Clearance for Participants, CBP Official Says

Despite the success of its Section 321 data pilot, which has taught CBP lessons on the types of data on de minimis shipments it may find helpful and reduced hiccups for industry participants providing the additional data, CBP still has “quite a bit we can learn,” CBP’s Christopher Mabelitini said during a webinar April 12. In addition to expanding the number of participants covered by the pilot, CBP is looking to increase the universe of data and transactions.

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CBP is now working to onboard “quite a few additional participants” into its Section 321 data pilot after announcing the expansion of the pilot beyond an initial nine participants in February (see 2302150027), Mabelitini said during CBP’s National Commodity Specialist Division Trade Forum. “We have to onboard each participant one at a time, which takes a little bit longer than some of our other pilots do in terms of onboarding,” he said.

CBP already has found many of the data elements in the data pilot “to be extremely helpful and extremely useful” in “assessing the risk of the shipments as they come in, and determining if there’s anything suspicious,” said Mabelitini, who is director of CBP's intellectual property and ecommerce division. The nine pre-expansion pilot participants included three online marketplaces, three logistics providers and three express couriers, he said.

Pilot participants also have seen benefits, Mabelitini said. CBP is able to release shipments with the additional pilot data elements faster, with “one of the platforms participating in the pilot” reporting “over a 90% reduction in holds for the shipments because of the additional data that they’re submitting,” he said. “And they may not be submitting every data element.”

Among the additional data elements CBP has found helpful are the photos of the goods some participants are providing. When the shipment is flagged, the CBP officer can then see the photo and look at the box, and “can get a sense,” looking at the other information provided on the shipment such as description and weight, that “this adds up,” Mabelitini said. “It allows our officers to more easily and readily be able to let that good go with some confidence” that they know “what’s in the package,” he said.

Another helpful data element has been the marketplace URL, Mabelitini said. “If the item is flagged and it’s held for inspection and we can look at the URL, there’s so much information you can get there in terms of what the weight is” and “what it’s supposed to look like,” as well as a description, weight and value, he said. With that information, CBP officers can more readily determine if they can let the shipment go or if they need to open the package up and verify what’s inside, he said.

Mabelitini also lauded the success of CBP’s concurrent and ongoing Type 86 pilot, which he said has the benefit not only of allowing partner government agency (PGA) regulated shipments to enter at de minimis, but also offers dramatically expedited clearance when compared with clearance off the manifest.

CBP still plans on taking the lessons learned from both the pilots to move forward with a rulemaking process that will combine the Section 321 data pilot and Type 86 pilot processes into a “new automated pathway for the release of these goods,” Mabelitini said. That way, if a PGA-regulated good qualifies for de minimis, “it can go through this new automated process for release,” he said. Likewise, “this process would also be optional for any type of de minimis shipments with the additional data elements,” he said.

The rulemaking will “take some time” to put into place, Mabelitini said. “In the meantime, both pilots are continuing to run, and we’re very excited about the expansion of the 321 data pilot and getting more people on board,” he said.