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Enforcement of 24-Hour Rule Begins February 2 U.S. Customs to Issue Do Not Load Messages for Violations


WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner today announced that the Customs Service will begin enforcing the 24-hour advance manifest regulation on Sunday, February 2.

“Compliance with the 24-hour rule is a matter of national security, and essential to help secure the global supply chain, Commissioner Bonner said. “We applaud the efforts of those sea carriers, NVOCCs and other parties that have taken implementation of this rule seriously. To those that have not, U. S. Customs is giving notice that non-compliance will not be tolerated.

The 24-hour rule requires sea carriers and NVOCCs (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers) to provide U.S. Customs with detailed descriptions of the contents of sea containers bound for the United States24 hours before the container is loaded on board a vessel. The rule allows U.S. Customs officers to analyze the container content information and identify potential terrorist threats before the U.S.-bound container is loaded at the foreign seaport, not after it arrives in a U.S. port.

Initially, enforcement efforts will focus only on significant violations of the cargo description requirements of the 24-hour rule. For example, the use of such vague cargo descriptions as Freight-All-Kinds, Said-To-Contain, or General Merchandise, will no longer be tolerated.

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 2, 2003, U.S. Customs Service ports will issue “Do-Not-Load messages to sea carriers and NVOCCs that violate the 24-hour rule. The Do-Not Load message instructs these parties not to load a specific container that has been found in violation of the 24-hour rule. Carriers and NVOCCs that disregard these Do Not Load messages (and load the cited container) will be denied permission to unload this container at any U.S. port.

Customs has posted a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) section on its Web site (www to assist carriers, NVOCCs and others in understanding the expectations of the U.S Customs Service concerning the 24-hour rule.

Customs will also host a series of conference calls to discuss implementation issues and provide technical guidance to the trade. During these calls, Headquarters staffers will be available to answer questions that are not covered in the FAQs. The dates of the calls are February 5, 11, 18 and 25 from 11:30am to 12:30pm EST. The phone number to call is 202/927-5927, Pin #20503. A limited number of lines are available for each date and calls will be accepted on a first come basis.

Interested parties can continue to e-mail their questions to Customs at

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