Cargo Reporting with either Multiple Suppliers and/or Multiple Importers

Fremantle1/ June 26, 2013/ Customs and Quarantine Updates

Cargo Reporting with either Multiple Suppliers and/or Multiple Importers

Section 64AB of the Customs Act (the Act) requires a cargo report to be made for each “consignment” by a cargo reporter. ACBPS published Australian Customs Notice (ACN) 2009/47 to provide clarity about what this means. Put simply, it clarifies that a cargo report is required for each consignment that has a different consignor/consignee combination.

Section 68 requires goods to be entered. ACN 2006/59 and the [Defining ‘consignment’ for the purposes of Section 68 of the Customs Act] Instruction and Guideline provide clarity on what this means. Each consignment requiring entry under Section 68 of the Act needs a separate import declaration.  The only exception to this is a Full Container, which contains consignments from multiple suppliers for a single consignee.  This is known as an FCX consignment and applies only in the Sea Cargo environment.  A separate cargo report is still required for each consignment.

Some importers (or their service providers) may be reporting one container to one importer from one supplier rather than FCX, which is one container to one importer from multiple suppliers, to avoid the production of cargo reports.  This means we lose visibility of the suppliers for risk assessment purposes.

Some importers (or their service providers) may be reporting one container to one importer from one supplier when the container is for multiple importers from one or more suppliers.  In these cases, we lose visibility of suppliers and importers for risk assessment purposes and there would be Import Processing Charge implications because more than one Full Import Declaration should be lodged for the container.

At the 19 November 2012 meeting of the Customs and Border Protection National Consultative Committee (CBPNCC), members agreed that the ACBPS should increase activity to ensure compliance with the legislative settings for reporting requirements outlined in ACN 2009/47, particularly in relation to assembly orders.  Industry members of CBPNCC actively supported this action because businesses complying with the law were at a commercial disadvantage to those who were not.

The first stage of that increased compliance activity was to write warning letters to certain entities to encourage them to review their activities to ensure that they meet Customs Act cargo reporting requirements.

Cargo Reporting

A cargo report provides information on the parties involved in the supply chain (for example, the consignor and consignee) and the attributes of the cargo (e.g. goods description).  The information collected on the cargo report is central to the systems and processes employed by the ACBPS to achieve cargo control and to undertake pre-arrival risk assessment as well as informing risk treatment responses such as cargo interventions or examinations.

A separate cargo report is required for each consignee/consignor combination.  This applies to all cargo types in the sea environment (that is, FCL, FCX, LCL, Bulk and Break bulk) and to all air cargo.

ACN 2009/47 sets out the requirements for making a cargo report.  The ACN provides that, “for each consignee/consignor combination, a separate cargo report must be provided through the ICS [Integrated Cargo System]”.

In relation to assembly orders, ACN 2009/47 states “Cargo reporters who have been engaged to assemble orders made up of consignments from multiple suppliers are required to enter into the ICS a cargo report for each supplier (consignor) and consignee”.

The publication of ACN 2009/47 was not the result of a change to ACBPS’s policy or procedures.  Rather, it is a reaffirmation of existing requirements.

Bills of Lading

You sought clarification as to whether those reporting cargo could use dummy bill of lading numbers.

The house bill number field on a cargo report should quote the number of a house bill.

However, where the cargo reporter has no control over the issuing of bills of lading for consignments within the assembly order, the cargo reporter may refer to alternative documents where they provide sufficient information:

(i) to identify the consignment, and

(ii) to lodge a cargo report in the ICS for that consignment.

Import Declarations

An import declaration is required for each consignment.

The only exception to this requirement is for FCX cargo, where multiple cargo reports (and therefore multiple consignments) can be linked to and cleared on a single import declaration provided the consignments are in a container for delivery to a single importer.  The Instructions and Guidelines [Defining ‘consignment’ for the purposes of section 68 of the Customs Act 1901], March 2010], highlight that exception.  The Instructions and Guidelines state: “NOTE: The ICS has functionality that supports the lodgement of one (1) import declaration for multiple suppliers.  This function is ONLY limited to FCX Cargo (for containerised sea cargo)”.  In developing the Instructions and Guidelines, the ACBPS consulted internally and externally (including peak industry associations such as CAPEC, CBFCA and AFIF).

For all other cargo types in the sea environment and for all air cargo, an import declaration is required for each consignment.

Compliance Action

You have suggested that ACBPS provide industry with an extended period to meet reporting requirements before imposing sanctions for non-compliance.

Given these reporting requirements have not changed for many years, the adverse implications of incorrect reporting for ACBPS’s cargo risk assessment activities, the Government’s and ACBPS’s focus on strengthening security in the cargo supply chain and the importance of allowing ACBPS decision makers to decide on a course of action in each case based on relevant factors and available information, ACBPS could not agree to a blanket moratorium on the imposition of sanctions.

However, depending on the facts of any case, ACBPS’s response could range from further education and warnings, administrative action such as the suspension and revocation of licences and the application of infringement notices, through to prosecution.   Relevant factors that ACBPS officers consider when weighing up treatment options include, for example, the significance of the breach, efforts to comply, any relevant remedial or risk mitigation action, compliance history, reliance on ACBPS advice and reasons beyond the person’s control.