The United States federal government entered a shutdown from October 1 through 16, 2013, and curtailed most routine operations after Congress failed to enact legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014. During the shutdown, approximately 800,000 federal employees were indefinitely furloughed, and another 1.3 million were required to report to work without known payment dates. The previous U.S. federal government shutdown was in 1995-96.

The 16-day-long shutdown of October 2013 was the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history, after the 18-day shutdown in 1978 and the 21-day 1995–96 shutdown.

How did this federal government shutdown affect U.S. import and export operations? 

During this government shutdown The FDA continued to perform critical functions, such as field examinations, exports and destructions, entry review, sample collections, compliance, but since they had limited resources some delays occurred at some locations.

The ITA’s online steel import licensing system had been suspended during the shutdown. Because a license number is required to complete CBP entry summary processes, importers had to (1) use any license number already obtained for an incoming shipment or (2) send an email to the ITA if they have not yet obtained a license. Environmental Protection Agency personnel were not available to process notices of arrival of pesticides and devices.

Declarations for imports or exports of fish or wildlife must have been submitted in paper form to the Fish & Wildlife Service as the agency’s eDecs system is down. The Export-Import Bank hadn’t been processing applications for export financing.

A wide range of trade data and information were temporarily unavailable, including the Harmonized Tariff Schedule on the International Trade Commission’s Web site and the Foreign Trade Regulations on the Census Web site as well as new trade deficit statistics and data on textile and apparel imports from the Commerce Department.

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service were not providing various services, including the review or authorization of notifications or permits for the importation, interstate movement or field release of genetically engineered organisms and most management, administrative and oversight functions, such as facility inspections and complaint investigations related to the Animal Welfare Act.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection continued to process imports, but there were delays in processing cancellations, deletions, corrections, bond requests and refusals by the Food and Drug Administration. Ports had been instructed to manually release entries of goods subject to tariff-rate quotas and to suspend liquidation for ultimate liquidation at the proper rate. Validations under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism are not being processed.