US Government Offices Availability During Shutdown

As the government shutdown continues and many federal agencies take down their web sites, we are receiving questions about the status of certain agency activities required in connection with importation and exportation. Today’s Wall Street Journal outlined some of the problems.

Following is the best information we have at this time on the status of particular agency activities, based on published contingency plans and press reports. While many agencies continue to perform critical trade functions (particularly those funded through user fees or considered necessary to protect life and property), businesses should expect delays at ports of entry. Certain permits, approvals and services may be temporarily unavailable.

  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP). U.S. ports of entry remain open and are expected to operate under a normal schedule. However, traders are advised to confirm this with individual ports. Frontline CBP officers – import, entry and drawback specialists – remain on duty. C-TPAT certifications continue.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA continues to conduct import entry review, but with a more limited staff. The agency is prioritizing perishable entries (defined as merchandise expiring within 30 days) and lifesaving medical products. It has suspended import monitoring activities.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is essentially closed except for certain ongoing Superfund and emergency response activities. The agency does not appear to be processing notices of arrival for imported pesticides and devices. Importers should contact CBP for further details..
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is issuing phytosanitary certificates for plant materials bound for export, but with limited staff. It will continue quarantine inspection activities, pest risk assessments and animal import and export activities funded through user fee programs.
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). FSIS is conducting meat, poultry and egg inspections, including inspections of processing facilities and inspection of products destined for export. Functions necessary to support these activities (e.g., laboratory testing) also will continue.
  • Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). BIS is not accepting export license applications, classification and advisory opinion requests, or encryption reviews and registrations. No pending actions will be processed during the shutdown. Emergency requests to may be granted.
  • Export-Import Bank. The Bank is depositing funds and paying claims under its guarantee and insurance programs. However, all new obligations are suspended during the shutdown. The majority of the Bank’s electronic systems are not operational. A limited number of employees are on hand to deal with emergencies.
  • International Trade Administration (ITA). ITA has suspended its online steel licensing system. The agency web site asks those who need a steel license number to send an email to Those who already have a license number for an incoming shipment should use that number.
  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). For the duration of the shutdown, the USTR web site will be live but not updated. Roughly 75 percent of the agency’s employees have been furloughed. Businesses contacting USTR can expect delays and extended response times.
  • International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC has suspended its investigative activities for the duration of the shutdown. That includes anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations and investigations under Sections 332 and 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. Schedules and deadlines will be tolled.

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