US Customs and Border Protection issued notices reminding the importing community of diversion procedures for cargo destined to US ports closed due to weather. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texas and Louisiana seaports were closed and cargo was diverted to open ports to ensure that trade operations continued. Hurricane Irma has caused disruptions to ports in Puerto Rico and Florida, as well as additional ports in the Southeastern US.

Diversion occurs when merchandise destined for one port is redirected or diverted to a different port. The agency reminds carriers to amend the manifest to reflect the new port of unlading if such a diversion takes place. Entries already filed need not be amended even if cargo is diverted to other ports. The agency notes that ports should not penalize carriers for Trade Act violations caused by diversion of cargo.

CBP has also advised that for a weekly estimated entry that is filed after the fact (due to system downtime caused by this season’s hurricanes and receiving an error message about elected entry date being greater than seven (7) days from the filing date), the importer should adjust the elected date to match the current filing date and notify the port about the change as required. Filers should make notes in their records of this adjustment, so as to avoid post audit problems at a later date, and promptly notify CBP of any issues. The agency cautioned its employees to exercise due diligence in issuing liquidated damage claims for late filing of an entry summary during these events. CBP issues daily updates regarding port closures and procedures for handling diverted cargo and filing issues on the Cargo Systems Messaging Service.

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration will be extending the expiration dates for standalone Prior Notice filings via either PNSI or ACE standalone transmissions (PE transaction) or shipments going to the ports that were closed due to Hurricane Harvey and subject to closure in the wake of Irma. The FDA reminds the trade community that cargo diverted and discharged in a foreign country for transit to the US is considered a new shipment that requires a new prior notice.