Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been in the process of expanding the role that the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (Centers) play in the import process. The Centers are hubs of knowledge established by CBP that are in place to aid CBP address issues related to ten different industry-specific categories. For example, the Center in Houston, TX focuses on issues surrounding imports related to natural gas or mineral extraction and the Center in Los Angeles focuses on electronics.
Most recently, CBP announced that the Centers have assumed authority for post-release trade processes. It should be noted, however, that entry summary filling procedures and document submission processes will remain the same. Therefore, brokers and importers must take care to ensure that documents are filed with the correct entity. In general, Port Directors remain responsible for the “control movement, examination, and release of cargo.” Port Directors will also continue to oversee fines, penalties and forfeitures along with related notices. Where regulations require that documents be submitted to the Port Director (such as protests), the importer may continue to submit documents to the Port Director, or to its assigned Center Director. The Centers will then oversee most other trade functions including processing of liquidations, protests, petitions, recordkeeping, and financial and accounting matters.