Less than a month remains before Japan’s new 24-hour advance manifest cargo rule takes effect. The deadline for compliance has generally been reported as March 10, but this means 12:00 a.m. on March 10, Japan Standard Time. So for ships departing U.S. ports on the West Coast or Gulf Coast, the compliance deadline actually falls on March 8. (For more specifics on this deadline, please refer to this implementation schedule posted by Japan Customs.)
The rule requires operators of foreign cargo vessels intending to enter a port in Japan, and consignors for the applicable cargoes, to electronically file detailed cargo information with Japan Customs at least 24 hours before the vessel leaves its port of loading. Similar rules have been in place for some time for vessels entering ports in the United States and the European Union, so shipping companies are familiar with the process. Many have already addressed the issue with customers to let them know how Japan’s rule will impact their deadlines for submitting cargo information. If you have not received such instructions from your shipping companies, USMEF encourages you to contact them as soon as possible. The new rule may or may not impact your business practices, depending on the deadlines you currently follow for submitting your cargo information.
One area in which Japan’s rule differs from others currently in place is that it uses departure time, rather than loading time, as the baseline for the 24-hour notice requirement. Japan Customs states that this is because it is difficult to track and confirm loading times, so the departure time offers a more reliable and enforceable baseline for the notice requirement. From a compliance standpoint, it also results in a deadline that is easier for U.S. exporters to meet.
In recent discussions with exporters, USMEF found that most are prepared for the new rule and do not see it having a major impact on their current business practices. Some expressed concern, however, about meat shipments that leave a plant on the weekend bound for a West Coast port, and whether the cargo information will be transmitted to the shipping company in time to be in compliance with the new rule. If the paperwork fails to reach the shipping company in time to be transmitted to Japan Customs, the shipment would have to wait for the next vessel. This can be especially concerning for chilled shipments, for which the wait time will be more expensive and will affect the shelf life of the product.
Japan Customs has posted a summary of the rule on this English language web page, which includes a list of frequently asked questions that exporters may find helpful. If you have further questions after reviewing this information, please email Paul Clayton or Dan Halstrom, call USMEF at 303-623-6328, or speak directly with your shipping companies.