On June 21, 2016, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. APHIS-2016-0016] amending our regulations regarding the importation or exportation of animals and animal products and plants and plant products to address instances where the current regulations require the use of a hard-copy form or specify that a particular document must be submitted in writing. The final rule amends the regulations to provide the flexibility needed for persons to take advantage of electronic systems when a regulation has a limiting requirement. The amendments APHIS is making in the final rule are not to mandate the use of electronic systems or preclude the use of paper documents; rather, they address those instances where APHIS regulations specify a submission method to the exclusion of other methods.

APHIS is working to enhance trade facilitation in several ways. In some cases, APHIS programs will work within CBP’s ACE system to take required actions. In other cases, legacy systems will be updated to allow for more efficient processing of the information. For example, a new permitting system, E-file, is currently being developed to replace the legacy E-permits system. E-file will be used across APHIS programs, will include advanced functionality, and will provide permitting data directly to ACE to allow for speedier review and admissibility determinations at the ports of arrival. Other APHIS system enhancements will allow for better communication with APHIS’ CBP Agriculture colleagues concerning pest identification and allow for expansion of e-certification opportunities with APHIS trading partners. APHIS recognizes the advantages provided by the “single-window” concept and will continue to incorporate those strategies into future planning.

Effective on publication.