Keep Your Manifest Data Confidential
Margaret Lange | M.E. Dey & Co.
Did you know that your ocean manifest information is available to the public? The Freedom of Information Act requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to make certain manifest data elements available to the public. Your manifest data can be accessed by your competitors, customers, or anyone interested in your data. Among the 22 data elements published are; description of the goods, the shipper’s name and address, consignee’s name and address and notify parties for each shipment. ANYONE can ask CBP for this information. However, if you are an Importer, consignee or exporter, you can take action to have this information removed from public record.
The privacy statute (19 CFR 103.31(c)) provides the mechanism for any importer or consignee to request confidentiality of its name and address, the shipper’s name and the notify party. In the confidentiality request, the name provided must exactly match the importer/consignee name as it is entered electronically, by trade or their carrier/filing party, in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). A request for confidentiality must include the U.S. mailing address and U.S. EIN of the Importer or consignee. CBP will enter the confidentiality request exactly as provided. Up to ten variations of an importer/consignee name can be included in a single confidentiality request. There is no limit to how many requests can be submitted.
CBP will send confirmation to the requestor that confidentiality has been granted (or renewed), via the same manner in which the initial request was made, i.e., email, fax or mail. The acknowledgement does not provide an effective time period but rather the date the confidentiality becomes effective. The confidentiality request will be valid for two (2) years from the date of the CBP acknowledgement letter and covers all ports of entry. Renewal requests should be made at least 60-90 days prior to expiration of the current approval.
CBP warns that it cannot guarantee that the identity (ies) of the parties to the importation(s) will never be published. Confidentiality requests must be submitted to CBP via email, fax or post:
Attn: Disclosure Law Officer, Headquarters
Re: Vessel Manifest Confidentiality
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
90 K Street, N.E., 10th Floor
Washington D.C. 20229-1177
The same privilege applies to outbound vessel cargo or outward manifest information. In this application, a shipper, or authorized employee or official of the shipper, must submit a certification claiming confidential treatment of the shipper’s name and address. The certification shall include the shipper’s Internal Revenue Service Employer Number (EIN).
If you are interested in protecting your manifest data, we would be happy to assist in completing and submitting the request to CBP on your behalf. Call one of our licensed Custom House Brokers to make arrangements.