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CPSC Launches E-Filing System

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced last week that it is piloting an electronic filing system for certification data of imported products. The move to test the program will delaying the full implementation of a proposed rule to clarify certificate requirements after that measure incurred opposition from importers.

The new pilot program will be conducted jointly with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and will require importers to file five data elements of imported consumer products. The measures are designed to enable the CPSC to enhance its surveillance efforts and more accurately identify noncompliant and unsafe products before they are imported. “Information and feedback from the test will be used to inform the commission in striving to improve and streamline the import process,” the CPSC said.

The program, which retailers have criticized as potentially being more of a burden because of increased paperwork and administration, is scheduled to begin in July 2016 and run for about six months. Currently, certificates of compliance and product safety are made available to the CPSC in a number of ways, including placing paper certificates inside shipping containers and providing electronic certificates through an online system or via email.

The new pilot program will test two different methods of filing certificate data: either by filing all certificate data at the time of the products’ entry to the U.S. or by filing a reference to certificate data stored in a registry maintained by the CPSC. The Retail Industry Leaders Association praised the CPSC’s decision, saying the earlier proposed rule would have “fundamentally altered liability and commercial relationships between retailers and their private label suppliers.”

“We appreciate the CPSC’s willingness to work constructively with industry to achieve our shared product safety goals and we look forward to continuing to engage with the commission in the development and execution of the pilot, and evaluation of the pilot results to inform the drafting of the final regulation,” Kathleen McGuigan, the association's senior vice president for legal and regulatory affairs, said in a statement.