By: Nyitre Rodgers
Scene: Storm clouds were forming all over the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. It was rush hour, which means the storm would just further impair the traffic. Just as members of the AES staff entered the building the torrential down pours began. However, they had yet to see the after effects of the storm.
Narrator: It was almost 10:00 am and the calls were beginning to pour into the AES call center. AESDirect.gov website was down due to a power outage caused by the storm and it was unclear how long the system would be disabled. The AES staff put the AES Downtime Policy in place with the hope that filers and exporters would be able to continue conducting business as normal.
AES: Hello, AES, this is “Cindy” how may I help you?
Caller: Hello, my name is Earnest, and I’ve been trying to file a shipment on the website for the past hour. Is something wrong?
AES: Hello Earnest. Yes, due to the inclement weather, the AESDirect website is currently down. We have implemented the AES Downtime Policy and so long as the shipment does not require a State Department license you are permitted to export.
Caller: What is the AES Downtime Policy and how does it work?
AES: The AES Downtime Policy is issued when the AES system or AESDirect website is down. We notify the trade via a nationwide broadcast message. You are able to export goods using the downtime citation which is:
AESDOWN – Filer ID – Date of Export (MM/DD/YYYY)
Display this citation on your export documentation that you present to the Customs Officer. You must maintain a log of the shipments exported while under the AES Downtime Policy and when the system becomes operable, file them in the AES.
Caller: What about late shipments? Will I receive penalties?
AES: You will not be penalized for shipments filed late after the AES Downtime Policy is lifted. When filing shipments following the downtime period, you will receive a compliance alert message for those late shipments. However, this inability to file was out of your control and the Customs officers are aware of the situation. Keep a log of shipments that were not filed and all proper records for verification purposes.
Caller: Thank you so much Cindy, I think I’ve got a much better understanding now!
AES: Glad to be of assistance, have a good day! The above is a dramatization based on a recent occurrence to clarify how the AES Downtime Policy should be used. If you are unclear of what you need to do during downtime or you have received a compliance alert, don’t get frustrated. There are numerous resources available to assist you. Feel free to contact the AES Branch for more information at 1-800-549-0595, option 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org.