U.S. Customs and Border Protection Prioritizing Clearance of Medical Supplies

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Prioritizing Clearance of Medical Supplies

During this time of a global pandemic, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is working diligently to ensure imports of medical gear and supplies get into the country quickly and safely so they can reach hospitals and workers in need. 

CBP’s mission is to safeguard America’s borders, protecting the public from dangerous people and materials while enhancing the nation’s global economic competitiveness by facilitating legitimate travel and trade. To strengthen this mission, CBP has designated four (4) Centralized Examination Stations (CES) at the Port of New York and New Jersey to work closely with CBP to provide safe, secure facilities at which certain cargo is examined before being permitted entry to the country.  At these examination sites, in addition to its own regulations, CBP enforces over 400 laws on behalf of over 40 other U.S. Government agencies, such as USDA, FDA, and Fish & Wildlife.  Many of these import restrictions and requirements are designed to protect the American people from dangerous and illegal goods.

To help keep cargo moving and to expedite critical cargo through the Port of New York and New Jersey during the pandemic, the CES operators; Salson Logistics, H&M International Transportation, East Coast Warehouse and GCT New York, have all provided CBP with additional staffing and shifts. CBP, in coordination with its partners at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will continue to ensure that medical supplies and devices related to COVID-19 response are cleared through U.S. Customs and Border Protection as promptly as possible while verifying that they are all authorized and safe for use. 

Inquiries regarding the import of medical supplies and personal protective equipment are being handled by the COVID-19 Cargo Resolution Team (CCRT), newly formed by CBP’s Pharmaceuticals, Health and Chemical Center of Excellence and Expertise. The multidisciplinary team works to triage inquires, coordinates with affected terminals, and respond directly to ensure that legitimate shipments are not unnecessarily delayed.

To contact CCRT, send an email to: COVID19_RELIEF_IMPORTS@cbp.dhs.gov.

This email address is CBP’s coordinating mechanism for receiving and responding to inquiries concerning the following:  

  • Facilitation requests from other government agencies and private industry
  • General inquiries regarding the import of medical instruments

To help CBP expedite the release of COVID-19 relief materials, please include detailed data about the shipment, including:

  • Shipment Information: manifest or air waybill numbers, tracking numbers, entry numbers, mode of transport information
  • Conveyance Information: carrier name, mode of transportation, flight number, vessel/voyage number, port of arrival, port of entry
  • Cargo Description: complete description of the goods being shipped
  • Country Information: country of manufacture, country of export
  • Parties Involved:  names and locations of manufacturers, shippers, importers, and consignees

According to Richard Werkmeister, Vice President of Warehousing & Distribution for H&M International Transportation, “the clear focus of CBP in isolating and prioritizing this urgent merchandise with the CES operations in the port allows the CES Operators to assign “front of line privileges” to these examinations”.  This designation ensures the merchandise is made available without delay to CBP and their partner agencies to confirm they are safe for our frontline medical and essential workers as well as private citizens.  Mr. Werkmeister goes on to say that “the advanced notice and additional resources being dedicated by CBP and the CES operators, including extended hours of operations for both entities, have enabled us to assist in turning these shipments quickly and safely.”