SECTION-BY-SECTION: Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act

September 7, 2016 | Press Releases

Section-by-Section Analysis of the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2016: 

Sec. 1 Short Title

Sec. 2 Improvements to United States Mail Security.

Subsection (a) Importer of Record:

Current law, Section 484(a)(2)(B) of the Tariff Act of 1930 defines an importer of record for purposes of filing entry with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and paying duties, fees and taxes due on entry.  The importer of record is currently defined as the owner or purchaser of the merchandise or a customs broker appointed by the owner, purchaser, or a consignee.  Current law does not require an importer of record for inbound postal shipments; instead, CBP often acts as a de facto importer of record, manually sorting, identifying and making entries on dutiable items. USPS has asserted it is not obligated to act as importer of record.

The bill modifies current law to require an importer of record for non-letter shipments into the United States. As with private carriers, the importer of record may be (1) the owner of the shipment, (2) the consignee, (3) a designated customs broker, or (4) the U.S. Postal Service itself. Requiring an importer of record will result in significant cost savings to CBP, who will no longer need to function as the de facto importer of record in the case of postal shipments.

The bill also creates a new definition of “non-letter class mail” for use in this amendment.  The definition includes under subparagraph (a) any parcel, of the U.S. Postal Service or any UPU designated operator, that is included  in the Universal Postal Union’s Parcel Post Regulations that were in effect on the date of enactment of this new title in this amendment.  Also, covered is anything included in the Universal Postal Union’s Letter Post Regulations, as of the date of enactment of this amendment, except “small letters.”  The effect of subparagraph (b) is to include flats and “small packets.” Small packets are parcels up to 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) currently classified as “mail” but used for shipping merchandise. Subparagraphs (a) and (b) collectively cover all postal shipments except letter mail communication.

Subsection (b): Informal Entries

Current law: Section 498 of the Tariff Act of 1930 authorizes CBP to promulgate regulations for informal entries and other merchandise, such as U.S. Government property.  Current CBP regulations provide that CBP officials are required to complete mail entries for postal shipments. The USPS is authorized, but not required, to collect duties from the consignee for remittance to CBP.

The proposed subsection (b) would amend current law to require CBP to promulgate regulations requiring USPS to step in as the importer of record for all foreign postal shipments imported into the United States that qualify for informal entry. The importer of record is required to file all documentation regarding the entry with CBP. USPS would then be required to remit customs duties and fees on the non-letter shipments and be subject to customs penalties in the event non-compliance with CBP regulations just as in the case of private carriers.

Subsection (c): De Minimis Shipments.

Current law: Section 321 of the Tariff Act of 1930 exempts low value shipments from customs, duties and fees.  Under current practice, private carriers clear de minimis shipments using the manifest and the carrier is the importer of record. 

The proposed subsection (c) would require CBP to promulgate regulations making the carrier of postal non-letter shipments as the importer of record for de minimis shipments.

Subsection (d): Customs Fees.

Current law: Under 19 USC 58, CBP is authorized to collect fees from shippers for virtually all inbound shipments. For example, private carriers pay $1.00 to CBP for all inbound shipments, regardless of whether the item is dutiable or if it falls under a de minimis exception.

The proposed subsection (a)(6) would authorize CBP to collect $1.00 in processing fees for all inbound non-letter postal shipments, regardless of whether they are considered “dutiable.”

Subsection (e): Mandatory Advance Electronic Information for Non-Letter Class Mail.

Current law: section 343(a)(3)(K) of the Trade Act of 2002 provides that the Secretary of the Treasury shall work with the Postmaster General to determine whether the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) should be subject to advance manifesting requirements for USPS shipments.  In particular, the advance manifest requirements provide that private carriers for non-postal parcel shipments must provide package level detail information to CBP before the shipment arrives in the United States.  Significantly, the provision only authorizes the Secretary to promulgate regulations covering USPS shipments in the event that the Secretary determines that the manifest requirements should apply to USPS. 

Subsection (e) of the bill would remove the Secretary’s discretion and require the Secretary of Treasury to promulgate regulations ensuring that package level detail information will be required for non-letter class mail and presented to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).   This advance information will enable CBP not only to screen and intercept incoming non-letter class mail that might contain dangerous shipments, it will also ensure more honest customs declarations and greater associated Government revenue.

Subjection (f): Limitation on International Postal Arrangements.

Ensures that subsequent UPU agreements do not supersede the provisions of this Act.