CBP Now Accepts Online Requests For Confidential Treatment of Manifest Data

Some may not realize that data on inbound cargo declarations, CF 1302, is made public by CBP.  Certain data contained on outbound manifest is also publicly available, such as the name and address of the shipper, general character of the cargo, number of packages and gross weight, name of vessel or carrier, port of exit, port of destination and country of destination.  However, pursuant to 19 C.F.R. Section 103.31, an importer, consignee or exporter may request that data contained in inward manifests be considered confidential, thereby prohibiting dissemination of this information.  An importer or consignee may file a blanket request that information concerning all its shippers be considered confidential.

Until recently, this request, called a “certification” in the Regulations, could only be filed by mail.  However, CBP recently added a form to its website, http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/automated/automated_systems/ams/vessel_manifest_confid_form.xml, whereby a request for confidential treatment may be submitted electronically.

Unlike a request for confidential treatment under the Freedom of Information Act or other administrative procedures, a party filing a certification concerning manifest data need not make a showing that disclosure of the data would harm their competitive position or is otherwise a trade secret.  Certifications are valid for two years from the time that CBP approves the request for confidential treatment.

One need not request confidentiality for entries and AES filings, as data contained therein are already considered confidential by the agency and is not made publicly available.

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