U.S. Customs and Border Protection has set up a toll-free number to make it easier for importers and customs brokers to contact one of its new Centers of Excellence and Expertise, Thomas Winkowski, the de facto acting commissioner, said Thursday at a public meeting in Washington.
In the past two years, CBP has opened 10 CEEs. The last three offices - for agriculture and prepared products; apparel, footwear and and textiles; and consumer products and retailing - were established at the beginning of June.
The CEEs are virtual offices that handle custom entries and documentation reviews on a centralized basis based on the industry of the importer. Specialists at the Industry Integration Centers, as they are also referred to, are trained to understand the unique characteristics of the industry supply chains they support and are expected to provide more consistent processing than individual ports of entry. Their expertise also is supposed to allow them to alert Customs officers in the field to shipments that might be in violation of trade and safety regulations, as well as answer questions from companies about how to meet various compliance requirements.
The toll-free number is 866-295-7624. A phone tree will direct callers to the correct CEE.
Winkowski said the idea for the new tool came from a suggestion in last year's Trade Efficiency Survey of more than 300 respondents.
Contact information for individual Industry Integration Centers is available here
For more background on the CEE program, see the August cover story, "Policy Partners
." - Eric Kulisch