Rules and policies

Shipping goods from one part of the world to another by sea presents a formidable challenge.

Individual regions and countries have their own unique set of regulatory requirements and policies that govern international shipping. It would help to familiarise yourself with these.

Custom manifests

Customs authorities want to have an overview of “Who is moving what, to whom and from where”. Customs manifests help authorities with security, risk analysis, risk assessment, risk management, counter terrorism and customs control.

Under the World Customs Organization (WCO) established SAFE framework, the mandatory collection of cargo information for customs via electronic means was first implemented in the US in 2005 and was then followed by China, EU, Turkey and Japan, amongst others.

We’ve always engaged with regulatory bodies to adopt new legislations as part of everyday business.

Please read about the different regional regulations and the impact they have on your shipping.

U.S. Customs 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule

Carriers and NVOCCs to submit a manifest (bill of lading information) to CBP 24 hours before cargo is loaded onto vessels calling the United States.

The purpose of the rule is to enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to analyse container content information before a container is loaded and thereby in advance decide on its loading/no loading status.

In case of non-compliance with the rule, the most serious consequence would be the halting of loading or unloading and a consequent disruption of cargo flows and supply chains. Furthermore, CBP imposes fines or other penalties on the carriers and other parties responsible for the submission of bills of lading.

The scope of the rule

The 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule applies to:

  • All vessels due to call at a U.S. port.
  • All cargo destined for the U.S. or carried via U.S. ports to a non-U.S. destination.

The rule does not apply to feeder or transhipment vessels that are not calling at the U.S. However, the 24-Hour Advance Manifest Rule does apply when the cargo is transhipped onto a vessel that calls at the U.S.

How we comply

Our electronic systems allow us to submit our manifested bills of lading to CBP in a correct, quick and secure fashion.

In order to create the manifest, we need to get information from you in advance of the local reporting deadline. Our people across the world have been specially trained to handle your enquiries about the 24-Hour Advance Manifest Rule.

Your responsibilities as a shipper

We strongly recommend that you become acquainted with the rule and follow the overall guidelines listed below when shipping cargo to the United States.

Please ensure the correct and timely submission of the required information. (Information required by U.S. Customs)

Be as specific as possible with cargo descriptions on all documentation. Ensure that correct seal numbers are reported. The last attached container seal number(s) prior to loading the container.

Use our shipping instructions and transport document services to save time, expedite the process and improve documentation accuracy.

Information required by U.S. Customs

To fulfil our responsibilities when submitting a manifest to CBP, we require the following from you (shippers/agents):

A precise description of the cargo or the 6-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) number under which the cargo is classified and the weight of the cargo. See Harmonized Tariff Schedule


For a sealed container, the shipper's declared description and weight of the cargo

Generic descriptions such as "FAK" (freight of all kinds), "STC" (said to contain), "general cargo", "toys", "chemicals" and similar are not acceptable.

For acceptable and non-acceptable cargo descriptions see » U.S. Customs: Frequently Asked Questions on the 24-Hour Rule

  • The quantity of cargo expressed in the lowest external packaging unit. Containers and pallets are not acceptable units, for example a container containing 10 pallets with each 200 cartons should be described as 2000 cartons.
  • The shipper's complete name and address or future ACE identification number (unique number assigned by CBP upon the implementation of the Automated Commercial Environment) from all bills of lading,
  • Complete name and address of the consignee in the U.S., consignee’s U.S. address, owner or owner's representative or future ACE identification number, from all bills of lading.
  • Container numbers and seal numbers for all seals affixed to containers.
  • Internationally recognized hazardous material code where applicable.

Special requirements to NVOCC's

The 24-Hour Advance Vessel Manifest Rule requires NVOCC's to submit house bill of lading details to U.S. Customs. An NVOCC can file through its own system (automated NVOCC), the carrier's system, or an automated third party filing service

In addition to compliance with the 24-Hour Rule, please note the following:

  1. It is important for all NVOCC's to inform us at the time of booking and included in their shipping instructions that: - - Cargo declaration information will be transmitted by the NVOCC directly to U.S. Customs via  ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) OR - We will transmit the cargo declaration information on behalf of the NVOCC as indicated in the shipping instructions and pursuant to terms on contract.
  2. The correct carrier's SCAC (Standard Carrier Alpha Code) is essential to the communication process with U.S. Customs. This code allows U.S. Customs to transmit load and no-load information to the proper parties. It is imperative that NVOCC's include this SCAC code as the "second notify" party on cargo declarations submitted to U.S. Customs for cargo booked with us.
  3. Non-automated NVOCC's must submit their house B/L and shipping instructions to us simultaneously allowing us to file both with U.S. Customs. Failure to meet the 24-Hour Rule requirements will have significant adverse consequences for NVOCC's. In addition to actions by U.S. Customs, such as imposition of fines, our tariff provides that shippers and NVOCC's will be liable for all costs, damages, or other losses incurred by us as a result of non-compliance.

10+2 – Importer Security Filing (ISF)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) 10+2 interim final rule became effective on 26 January 2009. The regulation requires importers and ocean carriers to electronically submit additional data to CBP for containers on board vessels destined to the U.S.

U.S. importers are responsible for the 10 additional sets of data elements which are: Manufacturer, Seller, Consolidator, Buyer and Ship to names and addresses, Container stuffing location, Importer and Consignee record numbers, Country of origin of goods and the Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number. The Carrier will submit 2 additional data sets that are: Vessel Stowage Plan (or BAPLIE), and Container Status Messages.

Finally, carriers will need to provide five additional data elements for shipments consisting entirely of foreign cargo remaining on board (FROB), intended to be transported in-bond as an immediate exportation (IE), or for transportation and exportation (T&E). The 5 additional data elements are: (1) Booking party, (2) Foreign port of unloading, (3) Place of delivery, (4) Ship to Party and (5) Commodity HTSUS number. We will file this information to CBP and it will be necessary for shippers or importers to provide the Commodity HTSUS number.

As of December 2014, no ruling has been made as to filing requirements for house bill details for T&E, IE, or FROB cargo. As a result Customs is currently not enforcing that portion of the five data elements of ISF.

China Customs Advance Manifest (CCAM) Regulation

With effect from 1st January 2009, China Customs implemented a new manifest regulation that requires submission of complete and correct cargo manifest electronically to China Customs 24 hours prior to loading of cargoes onto vessels out of and into Mainland China ports.

The purpose was to standardize Customs administration of manifests on inbound and outbound means of transportation, facilitate and safeguard international trade and also to align with global practices.

China Customs can analyse container content information before a container is loaded, and in advance decide on its loading/no loading status. In case of non-compliance with the regulation, China customs may impose fines or other penalties on the Carriers and other parties responsible for submission of the cargo declaration.

The scope of the rule

The regulation is applicable to all Export, Import and transshipment cargo via any of the Mainland China ports:

  • All Import cargo destined for China
  • Cargo to be transhipped at a Chinese port and heading for non-Chinese destinations
  • In-Transit cargo i.e. containers discharging at Chinese ports but to be delivered by land outside China

The rule does not apply to freight remaining on board (FROB): Cargo staying on board a vessel that calls a Chinese port, but not being discharged at a port in China

To find out more about the rules, access customer advisories and review a list of frequently asked questions, follow the link here:

Japan Advance Manifest Filing Rule (JP24)

JP24 Advance Manifest Filing Rule, officially enforced from March 2014, requires ocean carriers (both VOCCs and NVOCCs) to electronically file cargo information for cargo to be loaded on a vessel intending to enter a port in Japan, in principle, 24 hours before vessel departure from the port of loading.

The purpose of the rule is to enable Japan Customs to enhance their security level of international logistics up to international standards and to prevent terrorism and transnational organized crimes, by screening detailed maritime container cargo information received at an early stage.

The electronic filing of the advance manifest is done through Nippon Automated Cargo and Port consolidated system (NACCS).

Read more about the scope of the rule and how to comply.

European Customs Advance Manifest Rule

The definition:

In order for European Customs to ensure that the security risk assessment is performed prior to all import cargo arriving in the European Union (EU), all carriers effective 01 January 2011 are responsible for the timely electronic lodging of a relevant Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) with European Customs. The ENS is required by European Customs at least 24 hours prior to cargo loading onto the vessel bound for the EU at the non-EU port of loading. The European Customs Advance Manifest Rule applies to all 28 EU Member States. Whilst Norway, Switzerland are not EU member states they have still adopted the new EU Customs Advance Manifest Rule. Please note that overseas areas such as Canary Islands, Madeira, Martinique, Reunion, Guadeloupe, French Guyana and Azores are also subject to the same EU manifest rule. In order for us to comply with customs requirements, we require you to submit an accurate shipping instruction 48 hours prior to "CY cut off" (or as stipulated by your local office).

For more information and a better understanding of the European Customs Advance Manifest Rule, please get in touch with a Safmarine office near you

Wildlife Restrictions

Safmarine will not knowingly facilitate or tolerate the carriage of wildlife or wildlife products, where trade in such wildlife or wildlife products is contrary to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES)2 and as such illegal under international and national laws.

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