CBP prepares to expand expedited import tracking

Project aims to replace a long-used paper system for processing commercial imports with electronic processing.

The Customs and Border Protection agency is pushing forward with a program aimed at expediting the flow of imports into the United States from trusted nations and corporate entities overseas.

CBP on Friday published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would make permanent the Remote Location Filing system, which has been in development for more than a decade.

The project aims to replace a long-used paper system for processing commercial imports with electronic processing. The new system is expected to enhance officials' ability to process documents and allow for quicker verification of imports.

The program is intended, according to the proposal, to "enable a customs broker with a national permit to serve several port locations without the cost of maintaining multiple offices."

The proposed regulation would create a permanent system similar to the two prototypes that importers have used since the electronic system was initiated in 1995.

CBP spokeswoman Erlinda Byrd said that currently, the only participants in the prototype electronic system are U.S. companies and "customs brokers" -- U.S. citizens who are approved to do business via the agency. She declined to comment on any future hiring by the agency in relation to the project.

"Nothing has really changed," Byrd said. "We're just making [the system] permanent."

CBP is preparing for high interest in the system. The agency stated that "if sufficient trade interest exists, and CBP deems it appropriate, other ports of entry will become RLF-operational once final regulations are in place." As of March 8, there were 248 ports using the system, according to CBP's Web site.

The proposal stated that if, and when, the system expands to more ports, new locations will be announced on the Automated Broker Interface Administrative Message System, and on the CBP Web site.

The draft rule allows for a comment period through May 22. Comments can be submitted through the Regulations.gov site, or sent to:

Trade and Commercial Regulations Branch
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20229