Vessel Manifest Information and its confidentiality

Already for a considerable time the operators of certain online services that specialise in the collection and analysis of sensitive shipment data, such as names of the shipper, consignee, type of the goods, weight, origin, destination, carrier, time of arrival and destination/transit times, prepare the data for the purpose of market and competitor analysis in the transport sector and make it available to the interested public partially free of charge.

Interested groups from the transport sector thus receive detailed profiles of their competitors and can use them for their own economic benefit .

The websites operators receive the information directly from the customs authorities, in particular with regard to shipments to, from or through the USA, South America, India and Pakistan.

For example U.S. Customs and Border Protection is, according to the Freedom of Information Act, entitled to make specific data of the vessel manifests available to  the public, unless importers, shippers and consignees request confidential treatment of the respective data.

Importers, shippers and consignees of shipments should therefore take advantage of the opportunity, that is made available to them by the customs authorities, to request the confidential treatment of their sensitive data in connection with their shipments.

Meanwhile an online-application has been activated by some customs authorities allowing the processing within 24 hours. In case of shipments to, from and through the USA, the application can be submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection exclusively by importers, shippers and consignees under the following link

Since an electronic data match will be made after the submission of an online-application to suppress disclosure and only exact matches of provided and recorded/stored data will be suppressed, it would be advisable  to submit as many naming variations of the shipper, importer and/or consignee as can be thought of. It could be helpful to review all copies of shipment bills of lading and insert all versions the name of the shipper, consignee etc. was listed therein. If there are more variations than can be entered in the system, multiple requests can be made.

The request to suppress disclosure according to the U.S. laws will only be valid for two years, therefore it would be advisable to make a note of a deadline of at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the former request to refresh it and in this way ensure uninterrupted confidentiality treatment of the sensitive information.

Should you have any questions regarding the process of submitting the request of confidentiality, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to assist you.