Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) recently reminded importers and exporters of the availability of confidential treatment of certain inward and outward vessel manifest information under Customs Regulations (19 CFR 103.31). Manifests apply to freight and identify the names and addresses of the shipper/consignee, the type of goods shipped, the gross weights, and the containers used in the shipment. Generally, this information is available to the press and the public.
The Journal of Commerce and certain trade organizations compile this information in databases and then disseminate it to the public for a fee. When confidential certification is obtained, certain manifest information may be examined and copied by the press, but it may not be published and may never be included on Automated Manifest System (AMS) data that is sold to the public. When certification for confidential treatment for inward or outward manifests is obtained, Customs withholds from the press and public the names and addresses of the importer and the shipper/consignee, as well as identifying marks and numbers found on vessel manifests.
Confidential treatment is granted for a two-year period, at which time the requestor must renew its application. The renewal certifications must be submitted to the Customs Disclosure Law Office at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the current certification.