Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) is continuing efforts to maximize efficiency through the expansion of its industry focused contact Centers. The Centers of Excellence and Expertise, known as “CEEs” or “Centers,” were created to shift importer contact points from a geographically based locations to Centers substantively familiar with the industry.  Along with centralized communication, the Centers will be an industry one stop shop for CBP paperwork and documentation.  This will eliminate the current process of filing with various ports based on shipping location.

Currently, there are four active Centers in the U.S. serving the following industries:  Automotive and Aerospace, Electronics, Petroleum, Natural Gas & Minerals and Pharmaceuticals, and Health & Chemicals.  The initiative is well underway for the new year as CBP plans to open  ten new Centers to service the following industries: Industrial & Manufacturing Materials, Agriculture & Prepared Products, Base Metals, Machinery, Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising and Textiles, and Wearing Apparel & Footwear.

The benefits of Centers are two-fold.  First, Centers will allow CBP more oversight of specific industries and a better understanding of each industry’s practices.  Second, Centers will help streamline the import process for the importer through increased consistency, which is likely to result in reduced transaction costs.  According to CBP, the expansion is expected to result in new Centers across the U.S., and will cover the full range of imports within each specific industry.

How can you locate and utilize the Center pertinent to your business and industry?

CBP is actively looking for volunteers to work with Centers – watch out for Federal Register notices for more information on how to participate.  If you chose not to volunteer, your company can still access the Centers as an industry focused informational hub.

The contact information for active Centers can be found here.

How will the Centers affect your  imports?

If you chose to actively participate in a Center, the process for entry and entry summary will not change. However, the location of CBP entry documentation processing and other activities will be moved from the port of entry to the appropriate industry Center.  Since the Centers are “virtual,” they will not require importers to change ports or location of importation.  Instead, the Centers will serve as a virtual source of clear and consistent information on CBP requirements while allowing importers to continue using the most convenient port for their business needs.

What benefits will the centers provide for your business?

  • Streamlined processing of import documentation and communication at one centralized location;
  • Reduced transaction costs;
  • CBP contacts with specific industry knowledge; and
  • Centralized management of each industry’s imports.