Potential impacts of a US government shutdown

With no deal in place, a US government shutdown seems more and more likely. Please be aware of the possible impacts on trade if no agreement is reached ahead of the looming deadline:

  • CBP has told the NCBFFA that import specialists, entry specialists, liquidation specialists, FP&F specialists, agriculture specialists, international trade specialists, CBP officers and center directors will all work through the shutdown. At CBP headquarters, the Office of Trade and the Office of Field Operations leaders will also be required to work.


  • CBP would likely suspend work on rulings (although the eRulings portal would still accept requests), regulatory audits, and refunds (such as drawback, protests, post-summary corrections, although applicable interest will eventually be paid)


  • Antidumping and countervailing duty investigations and reviews will be halted by the shutdown


  • In preparation, NCBFAA has downloaded the full Harmonized Tariff Schedule in case there are IT problems at the International Trade Commission that make it impossible to access. 


  •  Federal Maritime Commission will do only emergency assistance. Traders "will be unable to contact the Commission; access the FMC online databases such as the Agreements Notices & Library; or submit new filings or applications, such as ocean transportation intermediary licenses, service contracts, tariff registrations, vessel-operating common carrier and marine terminal operator agreements, certifications of financial responsibility for cruise lines embarking from U.S. ports, and agreement reports. Formal and informal adjudicatory and investigatory proceedings pending before the FMC or the administrative law judges are also expected to be temporarily suspended until the government reopens


  • The Commerce Department will shut down its steel import licensing system during the shutdown, it said in a contingency plan from September 2021. “All steel mill imports into the United States require a license issued by the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) office. The team needs to inform affected users, set up a temporary import license number, and coordinate with [CBP] to ensure that the flow of imports is not impeded.


  • APHIS will continue to provide preclearance and inspection services for fruits and vegetables, which is funded by trust funds, and also will continue its user-fee-funded animal quarantine and inspection activities, including after business hours, as well as its phytosanitary certificate activities, according to a contingency plan from USDA that dates from 2020.


  • Importers should also be cognizant of the operational impacts of a potential government shutdown on other Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) involved with processing imported merchandise, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, which may result in slower clearance of shipments subject to review.


  • In prior shutdowns, OFAC has prioritized sanctions enforcement activities, including administering the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), issuing new sanctions designations, and handling sanctions-related inquiries on a limited basis. While enforcement activities will continue, the trade industry should be prepared for longer wait times or the full suspension of OFAC's review of voluntary disclosures, license applications, petitions for removal from the SDN List, and other communications.


  • In prior government shutdowns, BIS suspended regular services, such as processing for export license applications, commodity classification requests, encryption reviews and registrations, and advisory opinion requests, except in extraordinary circumstances essential to national security. The SNAP-R portal was closed during the length of the government shutdown. While exporters should anticipate potential delays in securing export licenses or other determinations from BIS, export controls enforcement activities are expected to continue.


  • While licensing activities may be halted, exporters are expected to maintain access to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) in order to submit mandatory Electronic Export Information (EEI) to the Automated Export System (AES), as required by the Census Bureau.


As this is an evolving situation, our teams will continue to monitor the progress and share additional updates as they become available. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your local PSA BDP representative.