Canada & US Customs Increase Informal Entry Value Limit Effective January 8th

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced  that Canada and the United States have increased and harmonized the value thresholds for expedited customs clearance to CDN$2,500 and USD$2,500 respectively. This is an increase from the current levels of CDN$1,600 for Canada and USD$2,000 for the United States. Canada has also increased the low-value shipment threshold to CDN$2,500 for exemption from North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Certificate of Origin requirements, aligning it with the current threshold of the U.S.

A new U.S. rule raising the threshold value to $2,500 for shipments eligible for informal customs entry went into effect January 7th, 2013, eliminating the need for a surety bond, expediting customs clearance and reducing the amount of the Merchandise Processing Fee from $25 to $2 for electronic filings.

Informal entries can be done on spot as they do not require filing a CBP Form 7501 (Entry Summary), posting of a Customs bond, and are liquidated at the time of release. Informal entries are usually used for both personal and commercial importations. The form used for an informal entry is CBP Form 3461, which is completed by the importer and submitted to CBP.

As Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews declared, “The harmonization of the value thresholds for customs clearance for both Canada and the United States will not only facilitate and expedite trade between our countries, but will also facilitate trade from other countries into either Canada or the United States.  Reducing the administrative and paperwork burden on Canadian businesses improves Canada’s competitiveness, especially for our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.”
The new regulation will be beneficial to  express delivery companies and their customers, which are expected to see a reduction in document filing and record-keeping activity, as well as lower shipping costs.

The information is provided by  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Possible strike at the Port of Portland

Labor troubles at the Port of Portland continue to escalate and with the onset of a third labor-management scuffle, customers are starting to explore other options.
“Longshore security officers plan to strike at the port of Portland  on November 25th  if talks Friday don’t produce a contract”, reports  Oregon Live

The contract negotiation between port officials and the terminals security guards, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union  that have been quietly proceeding since July , will resume today.

In case of a strike , Terminal 6 as well as Terminal 2 and 4 will be closed. This will have a huge effect as these terminals are responsible for handling auto vessels, soda-ash exports, liquid bulks, other commodities and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges that maintain river channels essential for shipping.

The  executive director at the Port of Portland – Bill Wyatt, told commissioners this week  a strike is possible if the separate talks break down with representatives of 25 marine security officers in ILWU Local 28.

In two separate labor issues, talks between Northwest grain terminal managers and the ILWU are currently in federal arbitration and litigation springing from two contended reefer maintenance jobs at Portland’s Terminal 6 are ongoing.

Please be advised that the strike is not certain. The Port and security officers, who’ve been negotiating since June 30, 2011, might reach agreement today in a session with a mediator.

RCL Agenies Inc. will continue to monitor the situation and reports further updates once they are available

Port of New York and New Jersey is Reopened

The Port of New York and New Jersey  reopened all six of its marine container terminals on Tuesday after being shut down for the past week following the devastating hurricane Sandy, reported yesterday the magazine DC Velocity.

Please be advised that starting from Monday , November 5th,  until further notice the Port of Virginia accepts only loaded containers at its facilities while the empty containers must be brought  to yards in Portsmouth and Norfolk, VA, in an effort to accommodate cargo that has been diverted away from the Northeast,VA.

Port officials said they have expanded the Portsmouth yard to accommodate equipment-repositioning efforts and to handle the normal flow of empty containers.

Please note, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has waived its driver “hours-of-service” requirements. Drivers and equipment will be allowed to work longer-than-usual hours in order to rush supplies to storm-stricken areas.

Current hours-of-service regulations require drivers to drive no more than 11 continuous hours before stopping and to complete all on-duty work within a 14-hour period.

To add to that, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois have lifted their weight limits for trucks operating on interstate highways. The moves allow trucks to operate with a gross vehicle weight—tractor, trailer, and cargo—of more than 80,000 pounds.

New Jersey has raised its weight limit to 100,000 pounds for trucks carrying fuel, food, and water and to 120,000 pounds for vehicles moving heavy and oversized consignments like generators. Connecticut raised its weight limit to 92,000 pounds for all items.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has waived tolls on its bridges, tunnels, and crossings for commercial vehicles travelling between New York and New Jersey. In addition, tolls on vehicles engaged in relief work travelling on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway have also been relieved. Pennsylvania has taken similar steps for duly authorized vehicles traveling on its toll roads.

All these measures have been done to deliver relief equipment and supplies to storm -affected areas.

Port NY/NJ Update after Hurricane “Sandy”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reports the following update on conditions at its transportation facilities


The Port Authority’s maritime facilities are closed until further notice.

Port Authority staff and engineers remain on site at all Port Authority facilities to inspect conditions, assess damage, and perform repair work.  New York Remains closed to vessel traffic.  USCG, Army Corp of Engineers and National Oceanographic Center continue to survey waterways and terminals.

The Captain of the Port (COTP) has established priorities for waterway

1. Oil carriers.
2. Passenger vessels
3. Cargo vessels

Please be advised that the Port will remain closed Today and Friday.


NOAA and US Army Corps of Engineers are in the process of surveying channels to ascertain any underwater obstructions. Waterside access to the Port’s channels is restricted by US Coast Guard until the surveys and any remediation actions are completed. It is anticipated that the surveys will be completed by this weekend.


All terminals sustained damage to varying degrees. They are in the process of assessing damage to cargo and equipment on terminal. Power has not yet been restored and once it is restored the terminals can assess the operating capabilities of their equipment. Estimated time line for restoration of power is at earliest this weekend.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

CBP is assessing functionality of portable equipment presently on terminal and will test once electricity is restored. Customs exams stations (CES) are currently reviewing their operational status.

Rail Service

Rail service to and from the Port remains suspended. Rail carriers are in process of assessing any damage to their lines in the area impacted by Hurricane Sandy.


We will provide further updates as warranted.


Port NY/NJ Storm Notification

According to a news release from Coast Guard official,  the Port of New York and New Jersey is currently under a threat of hurricane “Whiskey”.  Please be advised that  the terminals are preparing for the impending storm and are taking the necessary steps to secure all cargo and equipment.  Expectations at this time are that the terminals will have normal operating hours on Monday, October 29.   We will report any changes as they develop.

Please be guided accordingly

ILA Holiday Schedule 2012-2013

Please see Observed ILA Holiday Schedule for NY ports  for 2012 -2013:

Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Veterans Day, Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, 2012

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, 2012             (ILA NO-WORK DAY)

New Years Eve, Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2013                    (ILA NO-WORK DAY)

Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Monday, January 21, 2013

Lincoln’s Birthday, Tuesday, February 12, 2013

President’s day, Monday,February 18, 2013

Gleason’s Birthday, Monday, March 18, 2013

Good Friday, Friday, March 29, 2013

Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013

Independance Day, Thurday, July 4, 2013             (ILA NO-WORK DAY)

Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013

Please be guided accordingly!

Toronto Intermodal Terminal Change Announcement

Please be advised that starting October 15th, 2012 Canadian Pacific will move all of its Toronto Obico Intermodal operations to Toronto Vaughan Intermodal Terminal.  Vaughan Terminal provides 24/7 service and this move will provide improved CP terminal services.  CP’s Vaughan Intermodal Terminal address is:

Vaughan Intermodal Terminal
6830 Rutherford Road
Kleinburg, ON

New Foreign Trade Zone in Miami

The Miami Herald reports that the U.S. Department of Commerce has approved PortMiami’s bid to be a Foreign Trade Zone. This is very advantageous and will help PortMiami to become an international hub for trade and commerce.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,  imported products will be allowed to enter a zone warehouse without paying U.S. Customs duties if they are eventually shipped out to another country, or pay duties  only when the imports actually enter the U.S. market.

“Miami’s reputation is as a center for importing and then exporting south so this is a very good fit for our community,’’ said Kevin Lynskey, assistant port director for business initiatives.

“Establishing this new FTZ is crucial in helping our local businesses create jobs, stay competitive and stimulate our economy,’’ said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “It gives an edge to American businesses as they compete in the global marketplace.’’

The port is also planning to establish satellite zones that will allow individual companies to have the benefits of an FTZ at their own secure warehouses. Under the new streamlined application process, companies that want to set up satellite sites could be up and running within 60 to 90 days.

Read more here:

ILA and USMX Negotiation continues

As the Journal of Commerce reports, The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA)  and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) ended three days of negotiations optimistic about a strike-free contract for East and Gulf Coast dockworkers. The ILA and USMX reported agreement in principle on two key issues, technology and ILA jurisdiction over chassis maintenance and repair. Now the ILA and USMX are seeking a six-year contract.

The current coast-wide contract expires Sept. 30. Many shippers said that if this week’s talks didn’t show progress, they planned soon to begin accelerating shipments or diverting cargo to the West Coast. According to the current poll by the Journal of Commerce, 68.1 percent of respondents have contingency plans in place to divert cargo.

Last week the association representing the largest U.S. retail companies sent the letter to the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance to reach a contract agreement well in advance of the Sept. 30 deadline in order to prevent a disruption to the flow of goods and the lasting economic effects that would result.

As we know, the ports play a critical role in supply chains and a potential disruption would be destructive to many industries and their ability to deliver goods to consumers in a “just in time” fashion.

RCL will keep you updated on the  further development of the contract negotiations.


Improvement of the ATA Carnet Validation

 According to an Office of Field Operations report,a CBP Muster Topic issued in October 2011 now permits  a carnet to be  validated at any port of exit. Prior to this,  a U.S. carnet user was expected to get the carnet validated AND produce the cargo for inspection at the last of exit from the US.  This presented challenges to shippers if they were not physically at the same port of exit as the cargo.

While CBP Directive 3280-013B does not state that a carnet can only be validated at the last port of exit, that has been the interpretation at many ports. CBP Muster Topic #CCS-FY12-0031 clarifies the Directive and makes it clear that the last port of exit can also be the last port where the user will have control of the goods. As long as the goods are in a secure supply chain where the user cannot get access to them, the last port of exit can be the port where the user is separated from the goods until both arrive in a foreign country. According to the U.S. national guaranteeing association for ATA Carnets, this muster applies to both hand-carried goods and shipped cargo.

The ATA Carnet is an international Customs document that a traveler may use temporarily to import certain goods into a country without having to engage in the Customs formalities usually required for the importation of goods, and without having to pay duty or value-added taxes on the goods.

If you have questions about using or obtaining an ATA carnet, please contact us at or at 973-779-5900.