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US Customs Container Security Initiative

We are pleased to inform the trade that the security scanners have now been installed in the Colombo Port under the Container Security Initiative of the US Government. Colombo thus becomes the first port in the sub-continent to come under the CSI initiative.

All US bound cargo originating in Colombo and also being transhipped via Colombo is subject to inspection by US and Sri Lankan Customs officials.

CASA facilitated a meeting on the 8th of November 2005 on a request made by Ms. Barbara Trice (Team Leader) & Mr. Jim Tokmenko (Research Specialist) of the U.S. Customs & Border Projection (Department of Homeland Security) presently serving in Sri Lanka. The main purpose of the meeting was to convey and discuss the approach of the shippers towards the Inspection of Containers under the US/Container Security Initiative.

The following were the highlights of the meeting. Please circulate these among your members so that they can comply to reduce the risk of shut outs and additional costs.

  • Prepare the Advance Manifest Notice accurately without any mistakes and submit same to the shipping line as early as possible.

  • Shipper’s, Consignee’s, Notify Partyís complete addresses should be given. By declaring incomplete addresses with abbreviations for countries and cities could lead to unnecessary problems.

  • Ensure correct description of cargo is given. Just giving a general description would lead to container being subjected to a physical inspection. Eg. Giving a general description “GIFT ITEMS” without specifying the exact item could cause problems.

  • File the Advance Manifest Notice well in advance so that the authorities have sufficient time to clear all the doubts if there are any.

  • If the documentís cargo description does not match the scan report the container will be de stuffed and checked.

  • When a container is subjected to physical inspection, Sri Lankan Customs officials will notify the vessel agent. It is the responsibility of the vessel agent to notify the shipper. Once notified it is up to the Shipper to send a representative to be present at the time of the inspection. A time limit will be given for the representative to be present. An undue delay may result in a shut out of cargo.

  • The physical verification of the container will be carried out by the Sri Lankan Customs in the presence of the US Customs.

  • Once the container seal is broken the authorities will replace with a new seal. This change will be notified to US Customs directly by the authorities so that the importer would not face any problems. Special coloured CSI tape will be pasted on the container after inspection so that US Customs will identify the containers, which had been checked.

  • East Coast sailings are usually direct from Colombo and is subject scanning in Colombo and the AMS has to be filed in time. The West Coast sailings are usually transshipped via some other port in the Far East and hence there is additional time to submit the AMS. The shippers however, should remember that if the scanning has to be done out side Colombo it would cost more. Therefore, it is strongly advised that all formalities should be completed well in time irrespective of whether the sailing is direct or not.

  • We requested the US Officers to check whether there will be any problems if there is a last minute short shipment after filing the AMS. They will check this with US Customs Head Office and come back to us. They indicated that a certain percentage would be allowed for short shipment but will clarify soonest.

  • At this meeting we did not discuss the cost of scanning, as the purpose of the meeting was different.

  • If a container is selected for scanning after it is placed on the stack, the shipper/consignee will be called upon to pay the additional port charges on account of the extra handling that will take place.

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