3 Jan 2019
Advance Electronic Data Now Required for Postal Shipments from Mainland China and Hong Kong
As required by the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which was enacted into law earlier this year to help prevent the shipment of synthetic opioids into the United States through the international mail system, U.S. Customs and Border Protection on 31 December 2018 notified air and ocean carriers that transport international mail destined to the United States that beginning on 1 January 2019 advance electronic data will be required for 100 percent of all postal shipments into the United States originating from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. Foreign postal operators that ship goods destined for the United States that originate in mainland China are also covered by this requirement.
CBP is advising carriers to communicate with postal officials in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao to confirm that 100 percent of the containers with postal shipments contain AED before loading them onto their conveyance. The agency adds that if the postal operator identifies to the carrier that a container does not have 100 percent AED, then the carrier should not accept that container. Enforcement action on the shipments, which may include return of shipments without 100 percent AED, could begin at any time from 1 January 2019 onwards.
As previously reported, the STOP Act focuses on the importation of fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids originally prescribed for certain medical purposes but now frequently sold as a replacement for illegal heroin. Illegal fentanyl test reports in Ohio increased from 56 in 2010 to 4,009 in 2015, with a 196 percent jump from 2014 to 2015 alone. Fentanyl addiction has now spread to many other states as well, and much of the imported fentanyl is believed to be entering the country as inbound express mail shipments from mainland China.
In addition to providing for increased mandatory advance electronic information submissions, the STOP Act establishes additional customs fees to be charged for inbound express mail shipments and specifies that it will ensure that all costs associated with complying with the legislation are charged directly to foreign shippers or foreign postal operators. If necessary, International Postal Agreement provisions are authorised to be renegotiated to allow for STOP Act actions.
The law also requires CBP and the U.S. Postal Service to develop technology to improve detection of illegal narcotics in shipments and establishes civil penalties for any violations. Moreover, the STOP Act enables the United States to provide technical assistance, equipment, technology and training to enhance the capacity of foreign postal operators. The law also instructs U.S. government agencies to increase co-ordination to collaborate to identify and develop technology for the detection of illicit fentanyl, other synthetic opioids, and other narcotics and psychoactive substances entering the United States by mail.