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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – IMPORT CARGO TO THE USA

LCL – Shipping Boxed or Crated Cargo & GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. How differs an Import shipment from an Export sea freight shipment?
2. What are FOB and DDU/DDP? What is the meaning when I deal with U.S. Freight Forwarder?
3. How it works? What should I expect on my LCL import shipment by sea step by step?
4. Why can’t you provide a precise cost on my cargo release in U.S. when quoting?
5. How can I estimate destination charges on LCL sea freight in the USA?
6. What documents should I submit to my import shipment at the origin and destination?
7. Can I amend my Bill of Lading?
8. What are Cubic Meter and W/M – weight or measurement?
9. Should I palletize my boxes or not?
10. What about insurance on my goods?
11. Do you guarantee transit time on my shipment?
12. What are ISPM15 rules - wood packing restrictions on sea freight shipments? 
13. A ROADMAP FOR ISF
14. Shipping Household Goods to the USA. A Guide to Customs Regulations.

FCL – Full Container Load

1. What should I know about FCL?


LCL – Shipping Boxed or Crated Cargo by sea & GENERAL QUESTIONS in respect of importing goods to the USA

1. How differs an Import shipment from an Export sea freight shipment? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

In respect of dealing with an U.S. Freight Forwarder (international transportation company), when importing goods to the USA by sea, shipper should understand that unlike with export to the USA, U.S. Freight Forwarder initiates import shipments via its worldwide service partners network and may continue working on shipper’s behalf as soon as goods are entered in the U.S. Commerce zone. I.e. when importers tender goods to the international shipment by sea in the country of origin, they will work directly with carrier’s agent in the country where goods are shipping from. Direct contact information of carrier’s agent at origin will be provided in our email containing booking confirmations and/or shipping instructions. This approach allows avoiding misunderstandings and error at a time of submitting cargo to the import sea freight shipment. After cargo actually departs from the country of origin, U.S. freight forwarder  collects all charges occurred on the import sea freight shipment on FOB (Free On Board) basis and pays it to the carrier and its agent on shipper’s behalf. 

Upon receipt an Arrival Notice on an import shipment by sea, as a rule (if not agreed in advance), our freight forwarders’ service fee is 7.99%/$89 minimum on top of FOB freight charges paid on shipper’s behalf. We invoice the importer of records (as a rule the consignee) including copies of all invoices related to the shipment paid by us.

However, if a part of these freight charges (for example: delivery, THC, documents etc charges) had been paid by shipper directly to the carrier and/or to the agent in advance, then a proof of the payment (copy of paid invoice(s) should be provided to us in advance. Then we will not include these paid charges in our FOB invoice.

Notice: The approach above may differ if you intend using service from an international moving company on shipping cargo to US (particularly household goods or personal effects). If you intend using an international moving company instead of an international transportation company (i.e. international freight forwarder, particularly our service), then please conduct the business with the international moving company. International moving companies have special rules and requirements on importing goods to the USA.  

2. What are FOB and DDU/DDP? What is the meaning when I deal with U.S. Freight Forwarder? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

FOB and DDU or DDP are Incoterms terms. Incoterms are not actually transportations, but trade terms that are widely used in International Trade practice (particullary in the Sea Freight industry) to indicate responsibility and ownership of goods when it is transferring from seller to buyer.

Important: This topic is not intended to be a concise definition of Incoterms abbreviations, but rather to provide the meaning as they may apply when you are dealing with US Freight Forwarder (an international transportation company) on sea freight import shipments.

We will go around just two terms: FOB - Free on Board (1), and DDP - Delivered Duty Paid (2), which are most commonly used by freight forwarders in respect of sea freight. We use an example for importing goods to the USA using LCL sea freight service. However the procedures are common regardless of type of service in the sea freight.
  
1. FOB -- Free On Board, in respect of sea freight, means that freight forwarder’s responsibilities are limited by setting up a shipment at the origin and issuing to the importer of record (as a rule the consignee/recipient of cargo) carrier’s Arrival Notice, Bill of Lading and Release Transfer/Turnover letter (if necessary). I.e. for shipments on FOB, after goods had been submitted to the direct ocean freight carrier at the origin, loaded on board of vessel, sailed from the origin and entered in the U.S. Commerce zone (i.e. reached the USA) and carrier’s Arrival Notice is issued to the importer of records along with the Bill of Lading and freight forwarder’s Release Transfer/Turnover letter (if necessary), all cargo recovery formalities and charges at the destination (in the USA) are importer of records’ responsibilities and on account of the importer of records. 

IMPORTANT!: All ocean freight import shipments with us are initially on FOB (But DDU or DDP).   

  • TERMINAL–TO-TERMINAL sea freight on FOB -- Origin charges are payable directly to the carrier and/or carrier’s agent at the origin. Freight forwarder’s invoice includes charges and fee related to the ocean freight only. All destination charges are payable directly by the importer of records to the carrier/ carrier’s agent at the destination. U.S Freight Forwarder is not responcible on the cargo recovery.
     
  • DOOR–TO–TERMINAL on FOB -- Besides tasks with the TERMINAL–TO-TERMINAL, Freight forwarder arranges pickups goods at origin on behalf of importer. However, the pickup charges (or part of these charges) may still be payable directly to carrier’s agent at the origin. Freight forwarder’s invoice includes full or partial charges and fee related to the pickup at origin as well as charges and fee related to the ocean freight. Destination charges are payable directly to carrier’s agent at the destination.  

    Notice our fee for FOB import shipments: Upon receipt an Arrival Notice on an import shipment by sea initiated on FOB, as a rule (if not agreed in advance), our freight forwarders’ service fee is 7.99%/$89 minimum on top of FOB freight charges paid on shipper’s behalf. Before we release freight to the consignee we will invoice the importer of records (as a rule the consignee) including copies of all invoices related to the shipment paid by us. Freight cannot be released to the consignee unless our FOB sea freight invoice is paid in full.

    IMPORTANT!: After our FOB invoice is paid we will ask the importer of records to reconfirm TO US his/her choice (A or B):

    A. Either you will work on the recovery by yourself/use service of your Customs Broker or

    B. You need us working on the recovery on your behalf.
    Notice our service fee on the second stage of you shipment - the cargo recovery in the USA: 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the recovery excluding U.S. Customs duty.

2. DDP -- Delivered Duty Paid means that freight forwarder will continue his work on sea freight shipment recovery at the destination (in the USA) on behalf of the importer of records (as a rule the consignee) and collect and pay all charges related to the import recovery on the importer of records' behalf.

However destination charges on DDP shipments can be assessed only after the goods enter in the U.S. Commerce Zone. Therefore, destination charges in quotes on DDP are provided (if provided) just a rough estimation. You may refer to estimation of destinations charges in this link. Notice: it may not apply if you plan using service from an international moving company.
 
With us, in order to proceed on DDP, FOB freight invoice must be fully paid before we may proceed to DDP. Actually this approach has the advantage for importers: After sea freight invoice FOB is paid and carrier’s bill of lading along with all other related shipping documents is obtained by importer, the importer can make his/her final decision: either to continue using our service on DDP when goods will arrive to the USA or be directly involved in the cargo recovery at the destination and/or use service of any U.S. Customs Broker of his/her choice.

NOTICE: IMPORT RECOVERIES ARE TIME-SENSITIVE. UPON YOUR FOB PAYMENT PLEASE ACT PROMPTLY!

  • TERMINAL-TO-TERMINAL on DDP -- On top of the TERMINAL–TO-TERMINAL on FOB freight forwarder handles entry, U.S. Customs and warehouse(s) release(s) on behalf of importer. Importer must arrange pickup of released goods from the destination terminal.  
     
  • TERMINAL-TO-DOOR on DDP -- On top of the TERMINAL-TO-TERMINAL on DDP freight forwarder handles delivery service to the importer in the USA. 

    Notice: In order to avoid storage charges on cleared with U.S. Customs sea freight shipments we would recommend considering self-pickup on import ocean freight shipments. 
     
  • DOOR-DOOR on DDP – Freight forwarder handles the complete door-to-door shipment and collects all charges on it. Not always available.

Reffer to this table below.
Also we reccomend you to see a sample of charges on import LCL sea freight shipment in this link.

 

 

FOB

DDP

 

 

Terminal-
to-Terminal

Door-
to-Terminal

Terminal-
to-Terminal

Door-
to-Terminal

Door-
to-Door

ORIGIN
Pickup

 

X

 

X

X

Customs at origin and export formalities

 

X

 

X

X

THC: Terminal Handling Charges

 

X

 

X

X

OCEAN FREIGHT

X

X

X

X

X

DESTINATION
Entry, Duty and Taxes, U.S. Custom release

 

 

X

X

X

THC: Terminal Handling Charges

 

 

X

X

X

Charges Related to Cargo Release(s)

 

 

X

X

X

Delivery

 

 

 

 

X

3. How it works? What should I expect on my LCL import shipment step by step? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Import sea freight shipments with us, unlike export, are always divided by two parts: FOB (1st) and DDP (2nd). See above.

Our policy states that we may proceed to the second part of shipment - on DDP, only after the first part -FOB is completed and we had issued to the importer carrier’s Bill of Lading along with all other related shipping documents. In ohter words we may accept responsibilities to work on your ocean freight recovery - the second part on DDP in the United States only after we got:

  1. Notice of Arival on your import shipment;
  2. All import shipping documents provided by importer of records are in proper order;
  3. Our FOB invoice is fully paid.

Here are the six steps that you should be aware of:

1st STEP – BOOK YOUR SEA FREIGHT SHIPMENT ONLINE.

The first and absolutely necessary step to begin a sea freight shipment with us is to schedule the shipment online in our website. I.e.:

  • Get a freight price quote in our website (for LCL import sea freight shipments select the destination country - USA in our online LCL freight price quote calculator). 
  • Then fill out and submit our secure online booking form via this quote obtained in our website.  

In order to avoid misinterpretation, misspelling and mistyping we do not accept bookings over the phone or via fax. 

IMPORTANT!: THE QUOTE IN OUR WEBSITE IS THE OCEAN FREIGHT ONLY. NO ORIGIN AND DESTINATION CHARGES ARE INCLUDED IN THIS QUOTE. REFER TO THIS LINK.

2nd STEP – FIRST-TIME CUSTOMERS PAY SECURITY DEPOSIT.

After submitting your booking request online you will receive our e-mail with our Customer Reference Number for your import shipment and:

  • If it is your first shipment with us, then you will receive an e-mail with request to pay a security deposit. Typically this deposit is equal to 75% of the estimated ocean freight cost of the FOB part of your shipment. The deposit will apply to the final cost of the FOB part of your shipment. Consider this e-mail an invoice on your deposit.  

We accept major credit cards online via Google Checkout and PayPal. We accept business and personal checks, money orders and wire transfers. Refer to our paymens options in this link. Please review our Return Policy.

  • Customers who already have an account with us should disregard this deposit request. They wait for an e-mail with shipping instructions and after that for our final invoice.

3rd STEP – RECEIVE SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS VIA E-MAIL, SUBMIT YOUR GOODS TO THE OCEAN CARRIER AT ORIGIN AND SHIP TO THE USA.

Scheduling Import sea freight shipments may take up to five working days from the day of booking. In certain circumstances it may take longer. 

  • For new customers time counts from the day of receiving funds on the security deposit. After we receive the deposit, we send to the payer confirmation e-mail. Consider that e-mail a receipt for your paid deposit.

We will work with an ocean carrier/its agent on your import shipment by sea. Upon the completion shipper will receive our e-mail with a booking confirmation. It should contain:

  1. Our Reference No. and Carriers Booking No.;
  2. Carrier agent’s contact information at origin;
  3. Sailing details on your shipment etc.

Contact the ocean carrier/agent at origin in order to proceed with your shipment. Follow the ocean carrier/agent instructions on your cargo delivery to the ocean carrier sea freight ship terminal (CFS). Provide proper export documentation in forms obtained from the carrier/agent including complete info on filing of ISF.

ORIGIN CHARGES: The ocean carrier/agent should provide you with complete FOB price quote based on w/m information entered by you at the time of booking your shipment in our website.

CORRECTIONS IN YOUR INITIAL BOOKING REQUEST: In order to avoid misunderstandings and errors in your ship documents including b/l, having contact info of the ocean carrier/agent, we strongly recommend working on all corrections in your booking request directly with the ocean carrier/agent. Keep us posted on all your corrections in email (cc your emails to the ocean carrier/agent to us).

NOTICE: We may email to you links to fill out your Valued Packing List and/or Commercial Invoice online. However, we strongly recommend you to follow requirements from your ocean carrier/agent in all aspects related to your international shipment at the origin. 

IMPORTANT: You may be asked to pay entire or part of origin charges directly to the agent. Keep records and receipts of your payments. We will ask you to re-confirm all those payments before issuing our final invoice on FOB. We will not include any charges paid by you at the origin in our FOB invoice.

4th STEP – WAIT FOR AN ARRIVAL NOTICE, PAY OUR FOB INVICE AND RECONFIRM YOUR CHOICE ON DDP. W/M.

It is too hard to predict precise w/m (i.e. total size and weight) of sea freight shipment at a time of booking. Actual w/m on your shipment most likely will differ from those that you had estimated in your initial booking request. Shipper may obtain verified w/m at a time of tendering his/her boxed, crated or palletized cargo to the ocean freight ship terminal at origin (CFS).

After the ship terminal accepted you cargo to the international shipment by sea, the carrier will bill us based on the actual size and weight of your sea freight shipment. Our FOB invoice to you will be based on this verified w/m information. This verified w/m info will go through all your further shipping documents including your bill of lading - the title of your shipped goods.

Upon receipt an Arrival Notice/Pre-advance we e-mail to you our FOB freight invoice with total charges less the security deposit and any charges and fees (if any) that you had paid directly at the origin already. Upon your payment on FOB we will send to you our confirmation e-mail. Consider this e-mail a receipt on your FOB invoice paid.

VERY IMPORTANT!!!: IF YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE AN ARRIVAL NOTICE AS EXPECTED (i.e. at least in a few days before ETA - Estimated Day of Arrival for your shipment) THEN URGENTLY CONTACT US IN EMAIL AND OVER THE PHONE!

After our FOB invoice is paid we will ask the importer of records to reconfirm to us his/her choice (A or B):

A. Either you will work on the recovery by yourself/use service of your Customs Broker or
B. You need us working on the recovery on your behalf.

NOTICE: IMPORT RECOVERIES ARE TIME-SENSITIVE. PLEASE ACT PROMPTLY!

5th STEP – RECOVER YOUR GOODS OR REQUEST US TO CONTINUE ON DDP (OPTIONAL).

IF YOUR CHOICE IS A, i.e you will work on the recovery of your sea freight import by yourself/use service of your Customs Broker:

Carrier’s Arrival Notice is issued to the importer of records along with the Bill of Lading and freight forwarder’s Release Transfer/Turnover letter (if necessary), all cargo recovery formalities and charges at the destination (in the USA) are importer of records’ responsibilities and are on account of the importer of records. Our service provided to you is completed.

IF YOUR CHOICE IS B, i.e. you need us working on the recovery on your behalf. Then notice our service fee on the second stage of you shipment - DDP, the cargo recovery in the USA: 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the recovery excluding U.S. Customs duty and Taxes (if any). 

IMPORTANT! In order to accept responsibilities on recovery of your sea freight import shipment ALL DOCUMENTS NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THE RECOVERY MUST BE TIMELY PROVIDED BY THE IMPORTER OF RECORDS. We, along with our customs broker, should guide you. However in event of lack or delays with any import documents related to the recovery we cannot be held responsible on any problem and/or extra charges that may occur on the recovery due to insufficiency of documents provided. 

6th STEP – HAVE YOUR CARGO RELEASED TO YOU.

Having your cargo released by U.S. Customs, sea freight carrier’s terminals and all other parties related to the cargo recovery (if any), we will e-mail you our final DDP invoice including our service fee - 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the recovery excluding U.S. Customs duty and Taxes (if any). It will combine all DDP charges assessed on the release of your shipment. We furnish you with copies of documents that confirm each charge in our invoice.

After our DDU invoice is paid, we issue to you our release letter. Now you can pickup your released goods at the destination warehouse in the USA.  You may hire an international moving company or a local moving or cartage company on delivery and unload of your imported goods.     

4. Why can’t you provide a precise cost on my cargo release in U.S. when quoting? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Destination charges and fees are time sensitive matter.

  • Customs duty and entry related charges are effective on the day of entry goods in the U.S. Commerce Zone; 
  • THC - Terminal(s) Handling Charges and terminal(s) release related charges are effective on the day of release;
  • Delivery charges (if any) are upon dimensional weight verification.

However, we do not add any fee on top of actual destination charges occurred on your cargo release. Our service fee is flat sum - 7.99%/$89 minimum on total charges related to the import sea freight recovery excluding U.S. Customs duty and Taxes (if any). We furnish to you with copies of documents that confirm each charge in our invoice to you. You are advised of this fee in advance.

5. How can I estimate destination charges in the USA? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Follow this link to estimate destination charges on LCL sea freight import shipment in the USA http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/ser_lcl.php#dest_charges

6. What documents should I submit to my import shipment at the origin and destination? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Find about shipping documents when importing cargo to the USA by sea at http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/shipdoc_impg.php 

7. Can I amend my Bill of Lading? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Any amendment in a sea freight Bill of Lading after it had been issued is a headache for you. It may not always be possible. Especially when goods had arrived to the destination. We strongly recommend you paying extreme attention to information that you are entering at a time of booking your sea freight import shipment. While submitting your shipping documents you will have several opportunities to verify and correct the entered info before your cargo will depart to the USA.  

As soon as a sea freight Bill of Lading is issued, any amendments in it are subject to carrier's amendments' fee. This fee varies from $70 to $200 or even more.
 
If you still need amendments then we may work on these amendments on your behalf (if the amendments will be possible). However, we will charge you for this depending on the complexity on top of the carrier’s amendments fee. Notice that completing B/L amendments is not guaranteed and may take an uncertain amount of time.

8. What are Cubic Meter and W/M – weight or measurement? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

One cubic meter is a considerably large volume.
A cubic meter is a measurement of volume, equal to space that is one meter wide, one meter long, and one meter high.
One metric meter = 3.28 metric feet.
ONE CUBIC METER = 35 CUBIC FEET.
Find more about Cubic Meter at http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/shipref_cbm.php

W/M – weight or measurement, whichever is greater. W/M presents cargo density limit. Typically per Cubic Meter. 

Find more about W/M at http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/shipref_cbm.php#wm

9. Should I palletize my boxes or not? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Palletized and shrink-wrapped sea freight cargo has much higher probability to reach the destination without damages or loss. However additional charges for palletized cargo will appear:

Cost of pallet and labor
A charge due to extra chargeable volume for palletized cargo
Find more on this topic at http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/shipref_pon.php 

10. What about insurance on my goods? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Find more about insurance on sea freight at http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/shipref_mi.php

11. Do you guarantee transit time on my shipment? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

ETT - Estimated Transit Time, i.e. a time slot between ETD - Estimated Time of Departure and ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival in sea freight quotes are not precise and should be verified upon a booking request. Transit time in booking confirmations on shipment by sea cannot be guaranteed as well. Although ocean freight cannot guarantee transit time, normally shipments depart and arrive as scheduled.

12. What are ISPM15 rules - wood packing restrictions? / Back to import LCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Find about ISPM15 rules - wood packing restrictions in this link http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/shipref_wpf.php

13. A ROADMAP FOR ISF (Importer Security Filling)

Now that ISF (aka 10 + 2) is a reality, what is everyone supposed to do? We hope the following document will help you understand exactly what needs to be filed and when, as well as helping you to figure out where to obtain the data elements. Any brokers reading this document should feel free to share this with your clients.

Who is responsible for filling?

ISF stands for Importer Security Filling. This is definitely an importer responsibility and not a broker responsibility. However we do expect that most importers will need assistance of the broker to prepare the filling. For each importer you will need to look at the supply chain and identify where each data element can best be found and how to obtain the information before vessel is loaded.

When do we need to file?

As of January 25th 2009 EVERY ocean containerized shipment will require an ISF filling for every group of cargo on the vessel. This filing must be CBP at least 24 hours before the vessel is loaded.
What information do we need to file?
For you smart people out there please do not point out that there are in fact eleven required data elements. The 10+2 acronym ignores the B/L.

1.Bill of Lading

This is used by CBP to control the filing. You should report by house bill if you have one otherwise use the master bill. You will be reporting all the parties to the transaction so on one filing these parties should be identical. If you have one bill of lading with several consignees (for instance) then it will need to be split into multiple filings using the same B/L.

2.Importer of record

This should be the easiest to report. It is exactly the same as the importer on the entry side. It will normally be reported using an EIN, SSN or customs assigned number. For personal effects it can also be reported by passport number. The importers bond will also be indicated on the transmission. The regular bond will be used unless a new ISF bond is obtained just for security filing.

3.Seller

This will be the name and address of the last known party by whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the importation is not the result of a purchase then the name and address of the owner must be given. This would normally be found on the commercial invoice. You will now need access to the commercial invoice data at the stat of the shipment cycle. Another catch is that you cannot just send the MID. You need to send a full detailed address but the Xtheta software will let you look it up by MID.

4.Seller

This will be the name and address of the last known party by whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the importation is not the result of a purchase then the name and address of the owner must be given. This would normally be found on the commercial invoice. You will now need access to the commercial invoice data at the stat of the shipment cycle. Another catch is that you cannot just send the MID. You need to send a full detailed address but the Xtheta software will let you look it up by MID.

5.Buyer

This will be the name and address of the last known party to whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the importation is not the result of a purchase then the name and address of the owner must be given. In most cases this party will probably be the importer of record. Our software will let you default this address based on the shipment profile but you need to send a full detailed address and not just the EIN. If this party is NOT the importer then the commercial invoice is a good place to find it.

6.Manufacturer or supplier

This may be either the name or address of the party that manufactured (assembled, grew, produced) the product or the name and address of the supplier of finished goods in the country of export. Once again no MID is sent but we will let you look it up in the MID database to get the address. This address may be on your commercial invoice or packing list.

7.Ship To

This is the name and address of the first deliver to party who will receive the goods after release. This will normally be the same as your customer or may be one of the delivery addresses on file for the customer. This may need some research on your part to get this information earlier but you will need it later for delivery order.

8.Consignee

This is reported the same way as it would be reported on the 3461 as an EIN, SSN, or Customs assigned number. In most cases on an ocean shipment it will be the same as the importer. If it is different you will need to obtain this information much earlier.

9.Container Stuffing Location

This is the name and address of the physical location at which the goods were stuffed into container. This may be at the overseas plant or at a freight consolidator. This (and the next element) will be the hardest piece of information to locate. You will need to work with your supply chain providers to identify who has this information and how the can get it to you BEFORE the vessel is loaded. CBP allows some leeway in these fields as they can be filed as an amendment once the vessel is on the water.

10.Container Stuffer

This is the name and the address of the party stuffing the container. This may well be the overseas freight consolidator

11.HTS#

You will need to report every HTS# (at the 6 digit level) needed to classify the cargo. This will probably be best accomplished from the commercial invoice.

14. Shipping Household Goods to the USA. A Guide to Customs Regulations.

If you ship household goods or personal effects to the USA, then you may need reading this link.

Notice: These rules are as well valid on sea freight for shipping household goods or personal effects to the USA when you use service from an international moving company.    

FCL – Full Container Load

1. What should I know about FCL? / Back to import FCL cargo | Back to Import from the USA

Click on this link for general info on FCL http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/ser_fcl.php 

 
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