After the events of September 11, 2001, many countries revised trade regulations to make their borders safer and more secure. Japan Customs introduced new rules to raise security measures up to the international standard and prevent terrorism. Part of these rules include stricter screening of maritime container cargo information at an early stage which give rise to the need for businesses to consider Japan Advance Filing Rules (AFR) solutions.
Recently, the government of Japan ramped up its security and anti-terrorism efforts in preparation for hosting international sporting events. The Advance Filing Rules (AFR) for maritime cargo by Japan Customs is part of these security efforts. While AFR has been mandatory since 2014, some filers still miss the submission deadline or submit incorrect information. This could lead to delays in cargo loading, discharge and delivery, as well as monetary penalties for the involved parties.
Japan Advance Filing Rules (AFR) Solutions: Rules and Exceptions
All cargo transported to and through any port in Japan by a foreign vessel (regardless of the type of vessel) must be filed with Japan Customs. These include:
- Cargo loaded on the flat rack container which has the structure to seal the cargoes by columns
- Container cargoes carried by vessels other than container vessels
- Cargo transshipped in Japan but destined for a foreign country
- Exported cargo unloaded at a foreign port and loaded onto a vessel bound for Japan
- Residuals subject to the import procedure
Exceptions to this rule are:
- Empty containers
- Cargo loaded on platform containers (ISO type code "P0“ specified by International Standard ISO 6364)
- Maritime container cargo not intended to be discharged in Japan
- Exported cargo not unloaded at a foreign port
- Containers imported to Japan as empty containers without import procedure on residuals
Japan AFR Filing Process
It is the responsibility of the shipping companies/carriers to file advanced electronic cargo information to Japan Customs, as the company or carrier know the cargo information based on the ocean master of bill of lading at the time of departure from the foreign port.
Consignors like non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and contractors of consigned freight forwarding companies are also required to file cargo information because they have cargo information based on the house bill of lading at the time of departure from the foreign port. An NVOCC is defined as an operator who does not own the physical transport but uses the services of a shipping company for transport.
Shipping companies must submit cargo information from the master B/L, while NVOCCs must submit cargo information from the house B/L. All filings must be done electronically via the NACCS 24 hours before departure from a port of loading. Failure to submit cargo information or submission of inaccurate cargo data can lead to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand yen and imprisonment with labor for a maximum period of one year.
It is important for filers (marine carriers/shipping companies and NVOCCs) to submit appropriate cargo descriptions by the deadline and share the relevant information (vessel codes, voyage numbers, master B/L numbers, absence or presence of a house B/L, etc.) with each other to ensure accuracy and completeness of submissions.
Customs Advance Notice for Japan Advance Filing Rules
After filing the required cargo data, Japan Customs will conduct risk analysis and send advance notice to the filer within 24 hours of the receipt of the filing.
DNL. A Do Not Load message means the cargo cannot be loaded onto the vessel at a foreign port. This is usually sent if the cargo is identified as high risk following risk analysis by Customs.
HLD. A Hold message means the filer must submit additional information or correct previously submitted data. The most recent information must be submitted in order for Customs to conduct proper risk assessment.
DNU. A Do Not Unload message means the cargo is on hold from being discharged from the vessel in a Japan port. This notice is sent if Japan Customs finds that the cargo is a security threat. If Customs confirms that a foreign vessel carrying the cargo has left the port of loading without cancellation of the advance notice with the code “HLD”, the cargo cannot be discharged unless additional information is filed or the information is corrected.
SPD. Filers will receive a Suspend notice if the cargo information is not filed or filed after the deadline. In this case, the cargo cannot be unloaded without permission by Japan Customs. Penalties may also be applied if the cargo information is not filed by the deadline.
To discharge a cargo with an SPD notice, the filer must obtain cargo discharge permission from Customs:
If the cargo information was not filed, the filer must submit required data and obtain discharge permission from the Customs office at the port of unloading.
If the cargo information was not filed by the deadline, the filer must obtain cargo discharge permission from the Customs office at the port of unloading.
Japan AFR Filing Methods
Filers may send cargo data through service providers approved to connect with the Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System (NACCS). The NACCS is an online processing system used by Japan Customs and other administrative authorities to obtain cargo information from trade participants, including third party service providers handling customs processing for ships and aircraft.
Electronic filing with the NACCS is ideal for small and midsize businesses who may lack the resources needed to build a direct connection with the NACCS Center. Connection with the NACCS center is done through a gateway from the filer’s own system or through service providers. Shippers and NVOCCs that have Japan offices and have a service agreement with the NACCS can file information using the packaged client software provided by NACCS Center.
Service providers are considered as intermediaries and are not the filers themselves. Shippers and NVOCCs are still responsible for the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of all electronic submissions via the NACCS Center. Before filing, shippers/NVOCCs who want to work with service providers must first obtain a Reporter ID from the Reporter ID Issuance System. The Reporter ID is associated with an account and email address used to receive messages from Japan Customs. Filers who use the NACCS but not the Transmission of Information (MSA) will receive notifications by other means.
When it is difficult to file electronic cargo information through NACCS (system failure, disasters and other causes), direct filers should contact Japan Customs. The agency posts instructions on the NACCS AFR website when the system is down or unavailable.
GeTS’ Japan Advance Filing (AFR) Rules Solutions
Global eTrade Services (GeTS) is a Japan AFR service provider connected with the NACCS Center and authorized by Japan Customs to process electronic submissions from shippers and NVOCCs. Processing is done through the NACCS Center that handles import/export processes and issues customs clearance for all Japan-bound cargo.
GeTS Japan AFR solution makes filing quick and simple for businesses of all sizes. The software greatly simplifies customs processing and improves compliance with Japan trade regulations, especially for large businesses. For high-volume filers, GeTS supports integration with existing systems.
Features and Benefits:
Host-to-host direct connection. Easy preparation and fast submission of electronic information to Japan Customs.
Timely notifications. Receive timely notifications from Customs and respond to messages as needed.
System integration. Connect existing systems with GeTS Japan AFR for streamlined filing and easy access to data.
To learn more, visit our Japan Advance Filing Rules (AFR) Solutions page or contact us today!
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