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Submitting a Voluntary Self-Disclosure: Let’s Work Together!

Wed Nov 07 2018
Written by: Soila Delgado-Hoover, Trade Regulations Branch, International Trade Management Division.
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What is a Voluntary Self-Disclosure (VSD)?

A VSD is a narrative account, submitted by a party to the export transaction or their representative, with supporting documentation that sufficiently describes suspected violations of the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR). A VSD reflects due diligence in detecting and correcting potential violations when required information was not reported or when incorrect information was reported.

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Benefits of a VSD

A VSD can benefit both the company and the U.S. Census Bureau. When a company makes a mistake by unintentionally filing incorrect Electronic Export Information (EEI) or failing to file EEI, a company can submit a VSD. This process reflects a company’s due diligence in correcting its mistakes and strengthens its export compliance because it compels the company to evaluate its business practices, and at the end of the process, the disclosed shipments may be mitigated. The benefit for the Census Bureau is that we now have more accurate export statistics. Depending on the timing of your correction, the Census Bureau has a process for applying the updates in the annual revisions. These corrections are applied to the statistics that were published in the FT-900, also known as the U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Report. The FT-900 is one of the principal economic indicators for the United States, and having accurate export data is critical to reflect the true health of the U.S. economy and trade. To find out more information about the revision process and trade data, feel free to contact the Economic Indicators Division’s Macro Analysis Branch at 1-800-549-0595 and select Option 4.

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When should a company submit a VSD?

A company should consider submitting a VSD if they have discovered systematic errors, failed to file for high-value shipments, or shipments involving licensed goods. When licensed goods are involved, we also recommend submitting a VSD to the licensing agency as well.

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Types of VSD Submissions

There are two types of VSD submissions that the Census Bureau typically receives, which are an initial notification and a narrative account. Both are described below:

  1. An initial notification includes the name and contact information of the person making the disclosure and a brief description of the suspected violation(s). It also gives the general nature, circumstances and the extent of the violation(s). After the initial notification has been submitted, the company should undertake a review of their export transactions over a five-year period and make the necessary corrections or filings in the Automated Export System (AES) before submitting the narrative account. The initial notification is optional and is typically submitted when the company has identified suspected violations and wants to notify the Census Bureau of its finding, but needs additional time to finalize the narrative account and corrections.
  2. A narrative account is a comprehensive description of the nature of the suspected violation and measures taken to lessen the possibility of the violations occurring again in the future.  The company should review and correct or file the shipment information in the AES before submitting the narrative account. The complete information required for a VSD is outlined in Section 30.74 of the FTR. The Trade Regulations Branch (TRB) also has a webinar titled “Roadmap to a Successful Voluntary Self-Disclosure” available here.

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How can a company submit a VSD?

VSDs must be submitted on company letterhead, signed by a senior manager, and addressed to:

Chief, International Trade Management Division
U.S. Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road, Room 5K158
Suitland, MD 20746 (if sent by courier) or Washington, DC 20233 (if sent by USPS)

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How does a company submit the Internal Transaction Numbers (ITN)?

We recommend submitting the ITNs in a password protected spreadsheet. Therefore, in the narrative account, you can state, “The ITNs of the missed and/or corrected shipments will be provided in a spreadsheet to the TRB analyst separately.” When creating the spreadsheet, it is important to include relevant information such as the ITNs, incorrect and corrected data elements. Keep in mind, during the audit process we will check the ITNs to ensure the information has been corrected, filed and/or deleted. An example of a spreadsheet is below.

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Need further assistance?

We hope this information was helpful, but if you have additional questions on the VSD process feel free to reach out to the TRB with any questions at 1-800-549-0595, Option 3 or through email at <itmd.askregs@census.gov>.

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