The Georgia Ports Authority obtained certification on Aug. 1, 2023, for all GPA terminals from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to unload cargo from vessels prior to being cleared by CBP.
To participate in the Advanced Qualified Unlading Approval Lane benefit, ocean carriers must be enrolled in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, be in good standing with CBP and stipulate AQUA Lane status when they transmit their manifest to U.S. Customs prior to arriving in a U.S. port.
Vessels must still obtain Customs clearance, but AQUA Lane allows port operations to start immediately with unloading and loading cargo – while the clearance process is under way. Crewmembers will still need to await normal clearance from CBP before disembarking.
“GPA works closely with our customers and our CBP partners to find ways to safely improve supply chain flow and reduce port costs for customers. Ocean carriers calling our facilities are looking for ways to make their port stay more productive and improve their end-to-end supply chain service for customers,” said GPA Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy. “AQUA Lane brings more certainty to supply chain velocity with faster cargo operations on inbound vessels.”
In the past, vessels would have to wait for U.S. Customs to clear cargo and crew prior to the start of cargo operations. The duration of the clearance process is unpredictable – which often results in port labor waiting dockside to start operations.
“AQUA Lane is an important step that benefits the entire supply chain and reduces time and cost,” added McCarthy.
Georgia Ports Authority has been enrolled in the CTPAT program since 2003.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 561,000 jobs throughout the state annually, and contribute $33 billion in income, $140 billion in revenue and $3.8 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. CNBC ranked Georgia #1 in the U.S. for infrastructure in America’s Top States for Business in 2023.