By: Stephen Jackson
The Port of Export is a four-digit code that identifies specific ports as listed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) where your shipment can leave the country. The Port of Export is a required field in the Automated Export System (AES) and it can easily generate Fatal Errors or worse, penalties and fines. In fact, filing an incorrect Port of Export Code is one of the top errors that CBP issues penalties for. Entering the correct Port of Export reduces shipment delays while CBP examines your shipment.
Let’s look at the port of export code for Miami, FL. Sounds simple, right? Using the look up function in AESDirect, and searching “Miami”, you would get the port of export code 5201… and 5206, 5271, 5273, 5295, 5297, 5298! So which one is right? Not so simple is it? You can see that there appears to be many options. When a situation like this arises, here are a couple of questions that will help as a guide to finding the right Port of Export Code.
Where is your shipment leaving the country?
Understanding where your shipment is going to leave the country and cross the border is critical to avoiding errors from misreporting Port of Export Codes. For example, you may give your package to a carrier in San Diego, CA, but that does not always mean it will be leaving the country at that port. Do not stop here.
What is your Mode of Transportation?
Pay attention to your mode of transport; each port allows specific modes. If you file a truck shipment, but select a vessel and air only port like San Diego, you will generate a fatal error. By using the AESTIR’s Appendix D, you are able to verify that your Port of Export Code will accept your mode of transportation. This will help you avoid selecting the wrong Port of Export.
How is Your Communication?
Your carrier is your greatest information source for the selection of your Port of Export Code. Contacting your carrier and requesting the port of export for your shipment will help mitigate any issues with selecting the correct code. Another great source is your local customs officer. Establishing good communication with them will help when you find you can’t identify the Port of Export Code you need to report.
Remember to ask these three questions before reporting the Port of Export Code:
1) Where is your shipment leaving the country?
2) How is it leaving the country (mode of transport)?
3) Did you contact your carrier to confirm this information?