CBP Challenges Vague Cargo Descriptions

Posted on Apr 10


Article By: Rick Walker, Vice President, LCB/CCS

On April 1, 2024, CBP announced a new national cargo messaging initiative to advise entry filers of shipments CBP deems to have non-compliant cargo descriptions. Existing federal regulations require a precise, or specific description of imported merchandise.  Specifically, CBP is aiming to address vague cargo descriptions including, but not limited to, “gift,” “daily necessities,” “accessories,” “parts,” and “consolidated.” “Consolidated” is only acceptable at the master bill level. In most cases, messages will be sent via ACE Cargo Release after release of the cargo. Brokers and importers are expected to process these messages and work to correct the issue with the shipper and bill of lading issuer for compliance on future shipments. In CSMS message #60011750 CBP went on to say that the entry filer is expected to review the cargo messages for compliance when concerns are identified. If the entry filer and bill of lading filer are the same, corrective action is expected immediately. If CBP identifies any enforcement concerns, CBP may take additional actions.

Now would be a good time for importers to review this and communicate with their sellers the cargo descriptions that should be included on the commercial documents. Be as specific as possible. For example, a shipment of screws shouldn’t just be listed as screws. It should contain enough detail for CBP to be able to verify the classification of the imported merchandise. Instead, list the type of screw (wood, self-tapping, etc.), the diameter of the shaft or threads in mm, the constituent material, etc. Your commodity may have similar designations within the tariff schedule so it’s worth a review to see if you have areas where cargo descriptions can be improved. We have already seen queries from CBP regarding this new action.


Please contact your V. Alexander account team, or you may also contact our Trade Compliance team at tradeinsights@valexander.com with any questions.