The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has suspended access for several customs brokers to the Type 86 program, which facilitates low-value import shipments.
This voluntary initiative allows consignees to have their customs brokers provide CBP with data filed through the agency’s automated broker interface (ABI) under the de minimis rule.

The de minimis rule permits the import of one package per day worth $800 or less without filing a formal customs entry with CBP and, importantly, without paying duties or tariffs.

Recently, CBP informed SEKO Logistics, a global air and ocean forwarder and a prominent participant in the Type 86 program, that its access would be suspended for 90 days, effective Monday. Despite maintaining an exceptionally high 99.9% compliance rate while participating in the Entry Type 86 program, SEKO expressed dissatisfaction with the decision, citing less than seven days’ notice before the suspension took effect and no opportunity to address any identified deficiencies. SEKO is actively exploring options for reinstatement and working with impacted customers to minimize disruptions to their cross-border e-commerce supply chains.

Increased Scrutiny on De Minimis Rule and the Type 86 Program

Over the past year, scrutiny of the de minimis rule (also known as Section 321) has intensified, largely due to the extensive utilization of the program by China-based e-commerce giants, Temu and Shein. Critics argue that retailers abroad are exploiting this rule as a loophole to evade duties.
Additionally, they point to Section 321 shipments as a potential source of illicit fentanyl and drug paraphernalia originating from overseas.

The Type 86 program, initially piloted in 2019, was designed to address the gap in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) information regarding low-cost shipments. By providing customs brokers and logistics providers with a mechanism to attract customers, it also facilitated the collection of more data about those customers for CBP.

In November, CBP urged customs brokers participating in the Type 86 program to enhance the information they collect from customers. John Leonard, deputy executive assistant commissioner at CBP’s Office of Trade, emphasized the importance of brokers being aware of their clients and the actual contents of shipments.

Curiously, CBP has recently intensified its crackdown on Type 86 shipments, despite the fact that Type 86 participants provide more data than other de minimis shipments. An anonymous forwarding executive speculated that other customs brokers might also face scrutiny in the coming months.

CBP has also increased enforcement related to vague descriptions and timeliness of Type 86 entries. The unnamed forwarder believes that misclassification of shipped items and resulting data discrepancies may be at the heart of the issue.

The volume of de minimis shipments has surged significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic, rising from 771.5 million in 2021 to 1 billion in 2023, and reaching 701.5 million as of May 30, 2024. Of this volume, 67.3% are cleared via the Type 86 program, with 87.2% moving by air and the majority by truck.