Based on recent votes in Congress, the possibility of a partial shutdown of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) activities for at least a brief period of time is looming larger. On February 27, 2015, Congress extended DHS funding for one week.
Importers have asked how a partial shutdown would affect US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities. Below is a brief summary compiled from various sources and reflects what CBP would likely have done for a partial shutdown starting on Saturday, February 28. The information has similarities to what occurred during the federal government shutdown in 2013. While CBP could always modify its plans in the future, this information can be useful as a planning tool for importers. How port activities would function is a matter for individual ports. Importers should contact their brokers and forwarders for questions specific to a particular port.
Please note: A potential partial shutdown of DHS would mainly affect CBP for import operations. Other agencies — the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the United States Department of Agriculture, etc. — would not have their import operations affected per se because of a DHS shutdown.
Overall, with a partial shutdown, cargo clearance operations would continue. CBP officers (CBPOs) and agriculture specialists would continue to show up to work, but would not be paid during the partial shutdown.
Entry review screening for cargo security and screening for illegal imports would continue. Import specialists and entry specialists would continue to work and review entries, without pay. Foreign Trade Zone operations would continue.
Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEEs) would operate, but national account managers would be furloughed.
Employees not directly related to processing cargo (mainly at HQ and regional offices) would be furloughed.
Some “non-essential” trade activity would stop.
- No e-Allegations responses would be processed.
- No antidumping/countervailing evasion targeting and auditing.
- No processing of Jones Act waiver requests.
- No prospective rulings, internal advice decisions or protest decisions would be issued by Regulations and Rulings.
- No customs broker licenses would be issued.
- No training of CBP officers would occur.
- No monitoring for textile fraud.
C-TPAT security validation visits/processing would not occur during a shutdown. C-TPAT members should contact C-TPAT if there are upcoming deadlines for clarification on the impact of any potential partial shutdown.
Some limited quota monitoring would likely occur to try to prevent a surge of imports.
ACE developments can continue for a few weeks based on existing funds, but no ACE training/tech support would occur. The May 1 mandatory manifest filing date in ACE would not change.
For West Coast Ports, because of the recent issues with West Coast Ports/backlog, those ports would still be accommodating requests for extended gate hours to process cargo. CBP officers would be permitted to work overtime to accommodate the requests.