New Rule Helps Identify Known or Suspected Terrorists Prior to Arrival in The U.S.

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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today announced the publication of the CBP Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) Final Rule in the Federal Register. The rule finalizes the requirement for all commercial air and sea carriers to submit advanced information on all passengers and crewmembers prior to entry to or departure from the United States.

"This rule is an important tool for U.S. Customs and Border Protection," stated Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. "CBP's priority anti-terrorism mission mandates that we leverage information and technology in our layered strategy. This rule allows our targeting systems toentify known or suspected terrorists prior to their arrival in or departure from the United States."

An Interim Rule, in place since December 31, 2001, mandated that inbound commercial air carriers electronically submit passenger data prior to arrival in the U.S. Today's rule is the first consolidation of regulations from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and Customs Service. This rule is a culmination of efforts begun in December 2001 to ensure that airlines and vessels submit complete, accurate information on passengers and crew. The rule also consolidates and harmonizes the reporting requirements for all DHS agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Agency. The publication of this regulation expands the reporting mandate to include inbound and outbound APIS data from commercial air and sea carriers, however, it will waive certain data elements that are currently mandated but that are duplicative of information held by other U.S. Government entities, such as the State Department.

CBP has worked closely with carriers and other DHS agencies in the development to avoid duplication and ensure efficiency in the data transmission. The Final Rule requires the carrier industry to submit APIS data in an electronic interchange approved by CBP, which will act as the single-portal for U.S. Government reporting purposes. Carriers will have 180 days to finalize programming of their systems to allow for the transmission of the required passenger data. Carrier compliance for the transmission of outbound data is required within 60 days of the final rule. In addition to existing methods, CBP has developed two web-based portals where carriers can submit the required data elements.

APIS data continues to serve as an enforcement tool toentify suspect or high-risk passengers, while facilitating the travel of law-abiding passengers-a majority of the passengers-through the entry and clearance process.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.