US, Canada closer to launching cross-border cargo pre-release program

Both the US Customs and Border Protection and its northern counterpart, the Canadian Border Services Agency, are continuing efforts to implement an advanced cargo release program to speed cross-border rail and truck shipments.  According to American Shipper, the agencies hope to implement a pilot program, “in the near future,”  for pre-clearance of truck shipments at the Buffalo, NY and Fort Erie, ON border crossing.

US officials expect the scope of the program to be limited to “low-risk trading companies” enrolled in US Customs’ C-TPAT program and Canada’s analogous Partners in Protection program.

As American Shipper reported,

Pre-clearance could be set up in many different ways, but essentially would involve checking shipments for trade compliance, safety and security at designated inland facilities or even a commercial distribution center and incorporating safeguards to ensure the cargo was transported without tampering directly to a pre-determined border crossing.

Although meetings have been scheduled between the two agencies to discuss the details of cargo pre-clearance, no official target date for launch of the pilot program have yet been announced.

Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner.

The American Shipper article, “U.S., Canada renew cargo pre-clearance efforts,” is available here.  (site registration required for access to entire article).

Ports of LA and Long Beach: Bigger ships mean bigger cranes

To keep up with the ever increasing size of cargo ships, the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been investing in “super post-Panamax” cranes to unload freight as efficiently as possible.  The cranes are 15 stories tall and can reach across vessels which are about twice as wide as the Panama Canal.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the ports are investing in this machinery — at a cost of up to $11 million each — in order to stay competitive.  Shipping companies may avoid ports which cannot easily accommodate their larger vessels, which now are 22 containers wide.

Moreover, when the expanded Panama Canal is completed in 2014, it is expected to handle even wider ships.  The Ports of LA and Long Beach realize that ships that normally would stop at the twin ports could instead head directly to Gulf Coast and East Coast ports, who will be “scrambling to dredge channels deep enough…and cranes big enough” to capture the Canal traffic.  Accordingly, the Southern California ports are already thinking about investing in even larger cranes in order to service these vessels and maintain their position as the top ports for US-bound imports from Asia.

The full article, “L.A., Long Beach ports bet on bigger cranes,” is available here.

Post Summary Correction (PSC) functionality in ACE – who will use it?

At last month’s US Customs Trade Symposium, many importers learned that they would soon be able to file electronic Post Summary Corrections (PSCs) in ACE up to 270 days after the date of entry.  This functionality, expected in June, will benefit both the trade and CBP.

The trade will gain significant time in which to submit post-entry corrections (currently 10 days if filing in ACS rather than ACE), and will no longer need to manually prepare and submit Post Entry Amendments (PEAs).  And CBP will gain valuable time back as it will not need to manually enter corrections into ACS.

Based on this development, one would surmise that the trade would be lining up to file directly into ACE instead of ACS.

Currently, however, only 1-2% of entries are filed in ACE, and the addition of PSC functionality may not be sufficient to increase this number.  As observed at the Trade Symposium, importers and brokers are reluctant to file in ACE since it still does not use the entry edits that were programmed into ACS over many years (e.g., HTS does not qualify for an SPI; computed duty is inaccurate; product does not qualify for an HTS due to value/quantity).

Moreover, the trade has concerns about the amount of work that remains to be done to complete ACE, its stability during this state of flux, and the fact that not all transactions are yet supported by ACE.  Accordingly, many filers are taking a “wait and see” approach.

April 2011 ACE Trade Account Owner Update

US Customs has just issued its April 2011 ACE Trade Account Owner Update.

Highlights include:

  • Overview of step taken in resolving an ACE trouble ticket
  • Step-by-step instructions (with screen shots) for merging ACE reports using Microsoft Access
  • CBP’s security update to the ACE Secure Data Portal, which discontinues the SSL protocol, and requires the use of TSL protocol on browsers to access ACE
  • Recent ACE Updates
    • Resolved issue relating to ACE incorrectly changing contol status of ACE entry summaries
    • Added “Links” in ACE navigation for future functionality which will allow users to navigate between ACE Portal and ISF Portal
  • Guidance for truck carriers for amending the date of birth of drivers
  • Answers to the trade’s questions on ACE
  • And more

The ACE Trade Account Owner Update is available here.

CustomsNow™ expands as more US importers direct file

CustomsNow™ continues to grow!  As you can see from this press release, we’ve just opened a new Minneapolis office to better serve our expanding nationwide client base.

Moreover, we’re excited to announce that Nic Adams has joined the CustomsNow™ executive team as Vice President Client Services.  Nic came to us from Target Corporation where he developed and then spent previous 10 years managing their direct filing / brokerage operations.

“I’m ready for a new challenge and very excited to have the opportunity to assist more importers in building a direct filing program,” said Nic.

Nic joins Randy Green, Vice President Operations & Support, in the Minneapolis office.  Mr. Green was also was integral part of Target’s direct filing team.

Given the experience of our team and the nature of our software, we’re confident we can assist you with a direct filing initiative.   Please let us know how we can help you:  info(at)customsnow(dot)com

Our Minneapolis office can be found at:


8401 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 202

Golden Valley, MN  55426