Video Contest!

Guest Post from the Small Business Administration

Submit Your Export Story For a Chance to Win $10,000!

The U.S. Small Business Administration is partnering with VISA USA to sponsor a video contest on Exporting Successes. Videos must highlight best accounting practices that ensure payments from customers and at least one of the following:

  • Important lessons learned
  • Factors that influenced you to become an exporter
  • Advice for other small businesses considering exporting
  • A favorite exporting story

For more information and to Accept the Challenge, visit:

Export Challenge Video

Improve your video by adding some statistics!

The U.S. Census Bureau collects, compiles, and publishes monthly trade statistics on goods exported from the United States. Every month, along with the Bureau of Economic Analysis, they release the U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Report. If you want to incorporate some of these statistics in your video, make sure to obtain them from the official source, USA Trade Online.

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Petroleum Drives the February Deficit Lower

By:  Ryan Coleman & Fay Johnson

In February, the Nation’s international trade deficit decreased to $43.0 billion from $44.5 billion in January.  Exports increased $1.6 billion to $186.0 billion, primarily due to an increase of $1.1 billion in petroleum exports.  Meanwhile imports increased $0.1 billion to $228.9, as a decrease of $2.0 billion in petroleum imports offset increases in nonpetroleum goods and services ($2.1 billion).

While the seasonally adjusted petroleum deficit decreased $3.1 billion to $21.2 billion, it is still higher than the December deficit of $18.6 billion.   The big petroleum highlight this month is in the not seasonally adjusted data, which shows the barrels of crude oil imported in February (205 million) were the lowest since March 1996 (202 million).

A Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies, 2010-2011

This month also marks the release of the 2010-2011 Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies.  If you aren’t familiar with it, the Profile is our annual release that combines FTD’s trade data with company information from the Census Business Register to provide company statistics on exporters and importers.   With the information from the Business Register, we are able to breakdown exports or imports by the size or industry of the companies doing the exporting or importing.   Using this company information along with what we gather in our trade data, we are able to provide data users with information such as how much value was imported by small (less than 100 employees) manufacturing companies from China.   Of course, this is just one example of many that you can find in the Profile, so please feel free to check out the release.

There is one slight change to the Profile from last year’s release.  In previous Profiles, Exhibit 6 has always shown trade totals by state.  This year, this exhibit also shows the export value of small- and medium-sized companies for each state, along with the total export value.

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Using the Downtime Policy

By: Rosanna Torres

On Sunday March 24, 2013 we activated the AES Downtime Policy for AESDirect filers only.  What does that mean?

The Downtime Policy is used instead of an ITN Number when there is an AES outage or when the AESDirect system is down for an undetermined period of time. You can only use the Downtime Policy if an AES Broadcast message confirms that it can be used. Under no circumstances should State Department controlled shipments leave the country under this policy.

If you use the Downtime Policy, make sure you do things the right way.  A couple of hints:


AESDOWN – Filer ID – Date of Export (MM/DD/YYYY)

Responsibilities :

  • Keep a log of shipments exported under the Downtime Policy
  • Once the system is back up, file for shipments that were exported under this policy
  • Keep track of your Compliance Alerts

Remember that when the date of filing is after the date of export, Compliance Alerts are generated.  This alert is automatically triggered by the AES and cannot be changed. If you receive a Compliance Alert for shipments exported under the Downtime Policy, keep a copy of the AES Downtime Broadcast along with the ITN(s).

For more information, read:

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Simple Question, Big Impact – What is Your Port of Export?

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 searchingMiami”, 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?

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The New Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) Export Requirements

Today we have published new export reporting requirements in the Federal Register. The new requirements will be effective on April 5, 2014. The publication of the final rule amends the regulations published in 2008 that govern how exporters must file electronic export information with the Census Bureau. An “informed compliance” period regarding the new regulations will be in place until October 2, 2013. ***This was updated as of April 8, 2014***

Highlights of the changes to the FTR include:

  1. Postdeparture filing (§30.5)
    1. Postdeparture filing timeframe has changed from 10 calendar days to 5 calendar days.
    2. A moratorium on accepting new applications for postdeparture filing is still in place.

  2. Household Goods
    1. Change in Definition-Usual and reasonable kinds and quantities of personal property necessary and appropriate for use by the USPPI in the USPPI’s dwelling in a foreign country that are shipped under a bill of lading or an air waybill and are not intended for sale.
    2. The household goods export code can only be used for shipments where the USPPI is the ultimate consignee.

  3. Used Self-Propelled Vehicles
    1. Must be filed in the AES regardless of value or country of destination 30.2(a)(1)(iv)(H)).
    2. Must be filed 72 hours prior to export (§30.4(b)(5)).

  4. Port of export (§30.6(a)(9))
    1. Specifies that the port of export for shipments by overland transportation is where the goods cross the U.S. border into Canada or Mexico, including transshipments through Canada or Mexico to other countries.
    2. The language for port of export was revised in §30.6(a)(9) to include previous FTR §30.6(a)(9)(i) and (ii).

  5. Split Shipments (§30.28)
    1. Applies to all modes of transportation, not just air.
    2. Change in definition- a shipment booked for export that is divided by the carrier into more than one conveyance and sent on two or more conveyances of the same carrier from the same port within 24 hours for vessel shipments and 7 days by air, truck, or rail.
      **The updated definition can be found in FTR Letter No. 6 (Revised)**

  6. Exclusions
    1. AES filing is not required for licensed goods where the country of ultimate destination is the United States or for goods destined to international waters where the person(s) or entity assuming control of the item(s) is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien of the United States (§30.2(d)(5)).
    2. The Exclusion legend is required to be reported on the bill of lading, air waybill, export shipping instructions, or other commercial loading documents.

  7. Exemptions (§30.37)
    1. The following exemptions were added:
      1. Exports of technical data and defense service exemptions as defined in 22 CFR 123.22 (b)(3)(iii) are exempt from the Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing requirements (§30.37(u)).
      2. Reporting vessels, aircraft, cargo vans, and other carriers and containers when shipping as tools of international trade (§30.37(v)).
      3. Shipments to Army Post Office, Diplomatic Post Office, Fleet Post Office (§30.37(w)).
      4. Shipments exported under License Exception BAG (§30.37(x)).
      5. Specific types of shipments destined for a country listed in Country Group E:1 (§30.37(y)). Country Group E:1 are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. These countries support acts of international terrorism.
    2. The following exemptions were removed:
      1. Temporary shipments: temporary shipments of goods valued over $2,500 per Schedule B or that fall under 30.2(a)(1)(iv) must be filed in the AES. When reporting temporary exports report the appropriate export information code for temporary goods, such as “TE” export intended for return and “TP” domestic merchandise (§30.37(q) and I).
      2. In-bond (in-transit) shipments (§30.37I). This is covered under the current exclusion (30.2(d)(1)).

  8. International waters
    1. Change in definition- waters located outside the U.S. territorial sea, which extends 12 nautical miles measured from the baselines of the United States, and outside the territory of any foreign country, including the territorial water thereof. Note that vessels, platforms, buoys, undersea systems, and other similar structures that are located in international waters, but are attached permanently or temporarily to a country’s continental shelf, are considered to be within the territory of that country.
    2. For licensed shipments to international waters, it will be required that the person designated on the export license must be reported as the ultimate consignee (§30.6).
    3. For Bureau of Industry and Security license exceptions and non-licensed shipments to international waters the filer will be required to report the nationality of the person(s) or entity assuming control of the item(s) subject to the EAR (§30.6(a)(5)(i)).

  9. Data elements (§30.6)
    Two data elements were added:

    1. License value – Report the value indicated on the license.
    2. Ultimate consignee –There are four types: Direct Consumer, Government Entity, Reseller, and Other/Unknown. Other/Unknown is an entity that does not fall under one of the other three ultimate consignee types or whose type is not know at the time of export.

The U. S. Census Bureau will continue its outreach and education efforts through the AES Compliance Seminars and Workshops throughout the United States, as well as Webinars and other presentations. For further information on our outreach and education efforts or for assistance with filing EEI, contact the Regulations staff at 1-800-549-0595, option 3 or via email at

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January Goods and Services Deficit Increases to Start 2013

By:  John Sperry & Kevin Yang

The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $44.4 billion from $38.1 billion in December (revised).  Exports decreased $2.1 billion to $184.5 billion in January, primarily due to the decrease of $2.6 billion in industrial supplies and materials.  Meanwhile imports increased $4.1 billion to $228.9, largely due to an increase of $4.0 billion in industrial supplies and materials.

For more information, please visit

Cellular Phone Imports Increase

January’s graph of the month highlights U.S. trade of cellphones.  U.S. imports of cellphones have been rising from 2007 to 2012.  Increases in imports were relatively small from 2011 to 2012.    U.S. exports of cellphones increased over 54 percent from 2009 to 2010.  To view January’s graph of the month, click on this link.

Changes to the FT-900

We would also like to mention that January is the first month on our accelerated release schedule.  Beginning this month, our releases will be available an average of 35 calendar days after the end of the reference month.  Click here to read more about our accelerated release.

January also marks the first month the U.S. Census Bureau will publish an updated version of Exhibit 15 in the FT-900: U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services. The commodity groupings and definitions have changed, but the general structure is still the same.  Read more about the changes to Exhibit 15 here.

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Compliance and Confidentiality: Acquiring your Export Data

By: Shannon Barley

Exporting companies can contact the Census Bureau to request their Electronic Export Information (EEI) at any time. Have you ever wondered if your EEI is protected from the eyes of others? We are here to help you gain access to your EEI, while keeping unauthorized parties from getting the EEI.

We will provide 12 months of data free of charge every 365 days. If you have a need for more than 12 months within the 365 days, you then submit a payment of $125 per extra month of data. If your company has more than one EIN associated with it, simply provide the list and the names associated with the company to our staff and we will work our magic.

Once we receive your request letter (Sample Data Request Letter link) and a Certification of Authority (Sample Certification of Authority link), our staff will gather all your EEI and compile it in an Excel file.

Within this Excel file there are up to three different types of data you will see depending on how your company has filed the EEI. If you are the USPPI you will receive all data filed for non-routed transactions, and routed transactions where you were the filer. However, you will only receive 12 data elements for routed transactions filed by an agent. The reason for this is that when there is a routed transaction where an agent files the EEI on the behalf of the FPPI, you as the USPPI are only entitled to receive the data elements that you provided to the agent.

The Census Bureau collects export information under the authority of Title 13, United States Code (U.S.C.), through the AES. By statute, all AES information is exempt from public disclosure under U.S.C., Title 13, Chapter 9, Section 301(g). The statutory responsibility to protect information contained in the AES is implemented in the FTR, Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 30.60. The EEI that Census collects is confidential and to be used solely for official purposes as authorized by the Secretary of Commerce. Remember, we are here to help you gain access to your EEI and keep unauthorized parties from getting the EEI.

If you have any further questions or concerns or you would like to submit a Data Request, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-549-0595 option 3.

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Meet Your Senior Foreign Trade Advisor

By: Omari Wooden
Allow me to reintroduce myself… My name is Omari Wooden, Senior Foreign Trade Advisor at the US Census Bureau. You may recognize me from my previous role as the Trade Ombudsman. As the Ombudsman (om-bud dz-man) I was a liaison between the export trade community and several Government agencies on a wide range of topics. Now, as the Senior Foreign Trade Advisor my primary responsibility is to oversee the outreach and marketing related to our trade statistics, Foreign Trade Regulations, and the Automated Export System.

So how can I help you?

  • Educate U.S. businesses on how to use our trade statistics to expand into the global marketplace
  • Respond to inquires covering a wide range of topics, from interpreting the FTR to utilizing USATradeOnline, the official online source for U.S. merchandise trade statistics.
  • Coordinate training around the country to assist U.S. businesses with AES reporting, enforcement issues, classification tools, and other matters.
  • Provide guidance and best practice recommendations on export compliance.

Feel free to contact me to discuss any of these issues… I look forward to working with you.

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Voluntary Self Disclosures: Help us Help you!

By: Autumn Banks

A Voluntary Self-Disclosure (VSD) is when companies willingly disclose a violation or a suspected violation of the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR). This disclosure is accompanied by the corrective actions taken in AES, it means you must correct shipment information or file for shipments that were not filed previously.

Submitting a VSD with the U.S. Census Bureau provides you the opportunity to mitigate potential penalties, as well as document discovered errors and corrections. If violations are known, we strongly encourage you to file VSDs to ensure proper due diligence with the FTR. See section 30.74.

Tips When Submitting Voluntary Self-Disclosures

  • Address to: Chief, Foreign Trade Division. Make sure that your letter is on company letterhead, contains a point of contact, a detailed description of when and how the violations occurred, any mitigated circumstance, and the corrective actions taken.
  • Disclosures For Multiple Years. When correcting or filing shipment information into the AES for time periods (up to five years), begin with the most current year (e.g., 2013, 2012, 2011, etc.)
  • Provide Complete Descriptions. You must include a description of the error and correction. Below is an example of a preferred format to submit the corrected information. Detailed account of the type of violation. The detailed account should include an accurate description of the type(s) of violation(s) that occurred. It can be included as an attachment to the letter or may be sent later (via mail or e-mail). Preferably submit in excel format.

In the above image, Schedule B numbers were reported incorrectly for five shipments. The disclosure included the corresponding ITNs, and the original and corrected Schedule B numbers.

Make sure that you have all the information when submitting a disclosure. VSDs that do not have all the pertinent information might not be used for a mitigating factor. Complete procedures for filing VSDs can be found here.

For more information about filing a VSD with the U.S. Census Bureau, please contact the Regulations, Outreach, and Education Branch at 1-800-549-0595, option 3.

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Trade Deficit Decreased in 2012

By: Lam Nguyen & Kevin Yang

The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $540.4 billion in 2012 from $559.9 billion in 2011.  Exports increased $92.6 billion to $2,195.9 billion in 2012, with increases of $33.7 billion occurred in capital goods and $12.9 billion in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines. Imports increased $73.0 billion to $2,736.3 billion in 2012, contributed by the increase of $43.1 billion in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines and $37.5 billion in capital goods.

December Goods and Services Deficit Lowest Since January 2010

For December 2012, the trade deficit decreased to $38.5 billion from $48.6 billion in November (revised).  Exports increased $3.9 billion to $186.4 billion, primarily due to the increase of $3.8 billion in industrial supplies and materials. Meanwhile, imports decreased $6.2 billion to $224.9 billion, largely due to the $4.2 billion decrease in industrial supplies and materials and $0.9 billion decrease in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines.

For more information, please visit

Automotive Imports Rebound

December’s annual totals for the top 5 countries importing automobiles (NAICS 3361). 2012 was a record high of automotive imports with $167 billion, an increase of 19% from 2011.  Automotive imports have bounced back from the recession of 2009. Within the top 5 countries, Germany had the largest percentage increase of 106% when compared to 2009 and an increase of 20% compared to 2011. Japan, which had the largest decrease of 42% from 2008 to 2009 among the top 5, improved 58% from 2009 to 2012 and improved 26% from 2011 to 2012.

To see more data on this, please visit our Graph of the Month page.

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