Deadline extended for full STOP Act implementation
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) agreed to allow additional time to fully implement the STOP Act, and specifically for the Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to finalize regulations related to refusing packages without identifying data. Under the STOP Act, starting January 1, 2021 the Postal Service must refuse any package shipped to the United States that lacks identifying data, such as shipper and recipient. Despite that deadline, until March 15, the Postal Service will now be able to accept packages after January 1, 2021 without identifying data only if CBP determines the packages present a low risk for containing illegal items, including fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
Senator Portman’s bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act became law in 2018 and is working to help reduce the supply of fentanyl shipped into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service. On December 10, Portman pressed the federal agencies in charge of implementing the STOP Act on why they had not fully complied with the requirements as established in the law. Portman released the following statement:
“At our hearing on December 10, we learned that CBP would not be able to finalize regulations by the end of the year related to refusing packages without identifying data under the STOP Act, despite having over two years to do so. Because this failure could lead to confusion on January 1, the COVID-19 emergency relief package will include a grace period until March 15 that allows the Postal Service to accept packages without identifying data that CBP determines are low risk.
“Other countries, like France, Spain, and Germany, have made clear that any packages entering their countries on January 1 must have identifying data. Packages entering those countries without identifying data will be delayed or considered inadmissible and returned to sender. Further, starting March 15, the European Union will require identifying data on a package before it is loaded onto a plane for shipment.
“Congress cannot provide this type of extension on packages without identifying data entering the United States again. DHS must finalize the regulations to ensure that packages containing illicit opioids, like fentanyl, are stopped before they are delivered to our communities.”
NOTE: As the Chairman and Ranking Member of PSI, Portman and Carper conducted an 18-month investigation into this issue and released a stunning bipartisan report detailing how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service. The STOP Act closes this loophole by requiring advance electronic data on all inbound international packages, including packages coming from China. Starting January 1, 2021, the STOP Act requires the Postal Service to refuse any inbound international packages without advance electronic data. The STOP Act required Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to finalize regulations regarding the refusal of inbound international packages by October 2019 so that the Postal Service could prepare for the January 1, 2021 deadline but CBP has not yet finalized those regulations.