The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act is part of a sweeping law meant to help address the opioids crisis. For many years, criminals have exploited a loophole in the global postal system to ship deadly drugs and opioids (such as fentanyl) into the U.S without detection by law enforcement. Voted in 2018, the STOP Act brings a long-overdue solution, mandating Advance Electronic Data (AED) on all international packages, including those delivered by USPS.
What is AED?
Advance Electronic Data (AED) refers to electronic messages containing information about the shipper, the recipient, and the contents of a cross-border postal package. AED helps U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identify packages from foreign posts that may contain illicit goods, including opioids.
What do Shippers Need to Know about the STOP Act:
The law will take effect on January 1, 2021. From that date, the U.S Postal Service will be required to transmit data on international mail shipments to Customs and Border Protection. CBP will then use this data to target mail for inspection to find opioids.
For customers on both the shipping and receiving end, the STOP act brings a lot of questions. Penalties for noncompliance are unclear. CBP has yet to rule on how they will handle such problems when encountered. As of right now the U.S Postal Service will not hand over mail to CBP for inspection if it is not in compliance, which includes having an AED. Noncompliant shipments will be subject to being destroyed or seized. Who will bear the cost of these methods, and how will they handle the service disruptions this may cause remains to be seen.
We’ve asked Kate Muth from IMAG (International Mailers Advisory Group) her thoughts on the STOP Act. “While the STOP Act emphasizes the importance of AED in stemming the flow of opioids through international mail, AED will also help combat counterfeits. The global postal network is moving toward greater reliance on AED to better support its Customs authorities as they supervise ecommerce flows for both security and tax collection reasons. It’s a move that IMAG understands and supports, although we recognize that hurdles remain to collecting 100% AED from originating posts. Foreign posts have to ramp up their technical capabilities in order to capture AED and for posts in the developing world, that is not easy. In addition, even the world’s most sophisticated posts will have some challenges collecting AED across their entire retail customer base.”