Announcement of eBond Test
This notice announces U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP's) plan to conduct a voluntary National Customs Automation Program test concerning automation of CBP's bond program (eBond test). The eBond test utilizes an automated system (eBond system) that provides for the transmission of electronic bond contracts (eBonds) between principals and sureties, with CBP as third-party beneficiary, in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) for the purpose of linking those eBonds to the transactions they are intended to secure. All eBonds transmitted pursuant to this test must be transmitted to ACE electronically, either via the CBP-approved Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or emailed to CBP for manual input into ACE. The transmission of eBonds to CBP must be made by a surety or surety agent. The eBond system works with ACE to ensure that transactions secured by an eBond have the proper bond coverage to protect the revenue and secure legal compliance. The eBond system is intended to establish a single repository for the centralization of all eBonds within the Office of Administration's Revenue Division, to harmonize and enhance CBP's bond processes, and to eliminate flaws in the execution of customs bonds, which may lead to increased legal risk for CBP. It is anticipated that the eBond test will reduce paper processing, expedite cargo release, allow for bonds to be transmitted beyond regular CBP business hours, and enhance traceability for audit purposes. The eBond test is intended to evaluate the automation of CBP's bond program, its impact on trade, and CBP's ability to enforce applicable laws and protect the revenue. This notice invites public comment concerning any aspect of the test, describes the eligibility, procedural and documentation requirements for voluntary participation in the test, and outlines the development and evaluation methodology to be used in the test.