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Trade and Industry Department The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Brand Hong Kong - Asia world city

Commercial Information Circulars


Commercial Information Circular No. 35/2003

Operational Issues relating to the
Implementation of the 24-Hour Rule for Inbound Cargo

  • In the case of multi-port loading, transmission of manifest is on a port-by-port basis, meaning the deadline remains 24 hours prior to the loading at each of the ports along the route.

  • U.S. Customs would issue a "NO LOAD" message during the 24-hour if they identify anything suspicious. Since "NO LOAD" message on the Automated Manifest System (AMS) will yet to be in place by February 2, U.S. Customs has asked the ports to obtain from NVOCCs and carriers information of point(s)-of-contact who can be reached anytime so that if a "NO LOAD" decision were made, the port could alert the importer in a timely manner.

  •  "NO LOAD" message will be issued on a bill-basis. That means if a bill contains 6 containers, all 6 should be removed upon receipt of the "No Load" message.

  • Further, if an NVOCC or a carrier were to transmit the wrong or insufficient data to U.S. Customs but the cargo ended up on a vessel bound for the U.S., that container or group of containers would not be allowed to enter the U.S. However, the vessel would be allowed to discharge approved cargo.

  •  All US ports will be advised to work closely with the U.S. Customs in Washington DC to ensure that the notification system is implemented uniformly throughout the U.S.

  •  A HOLD message from U.S. Customs is different from a NO LOAD message. A hold does not mean that the carrier cannot load. It means the shipment may be held once in the U.S. to ensure it meets all federal agency requirements (i.e., a clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for food imports).

  •  With regard to the seeming redundancy of data required by the U.S. Coast Guard's  96-hour rule and U.S. Customs' 24-hour rule, U.S.Customs and the U.S. Coast Guard work closely together but there are differences in the data elements required by each agency. U.S. Customs is working to harmonize the process so that 24-hour notice contains information that is acceptable to the U.S. Coast Guard, thereby allowing the importer to only transmit one set of information to the U.S.

  • On acceptable descriptions of cargo, it is noted that in many instances since December, importers have left the description field blank, or provided totally inadequate phases. The U.S. Customs is looking for compliance on descriptions first and foremost. For instance, "Said to Contain" is not an acceptable U.S. Customs format. Shippers must use the phrase "Shippers Load and Count (SLAC)" followed by descriptions of items provided by the shipper. U.S. Customs official will put up on its website examples of acceptable and unacceptable description today.