US expands expedited ocean freight customs clearance programme

The US is expanding its customs facilitation programme C-TPAT ‘AQUA’, extending Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s expedited ocean freight clearance pilot from 4 to 20 ports.

CBP this week posted a document providing additional information on the expansion of the Advanced Qualified Unlading Approval (AQUA) programme under its Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) initiative. The AQUA Lane programme allows for qualified sea carriers to expedite their customs clearance process by unlading goods immediately upon arrival to port.

Sea carriers must be “in good standing in C-TPAT” to qualify for AQUA Lane, US forwarder Expeditors noted.

Currently, four ports are participating in the pilot programme: Port Everglades, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Oakland. Six additional ports will be added this month – Miami, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Newark, Savannah, and Seattle/Tacoma. And from 15 December, the list extends to 20 with the addition of Charleston, Houston, Jacksonville, Honolulu, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Wilmington (DE), Wilmington (NC), Boston, and San Juan.

The CBP document can be accessed at: https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Sep/advanced-qualified-unlading-approval.pdf