Basics of direct filing customs entries and ISFs, part 1

Are you a US importer who is interested in direct filing your customs entries (and ISFs) but don’t know where to start?  Here are some helpful FAQs that provide general guidance on self-filing with an approved ABI software provider such as CustomsNow:

What are the benefits of direct filing?

Direct filers can save up to 90% off the filing fees charged by third-party providers.  In addition, self-filers enjoy improved compliance rates and increased supply chain control and visibility.  (See our brochure, “Why Direct File?”).  Moreover, importers can gain operational efficiencies — by integrating the systems that store trade data (e.g., GTM, ERP) with an ABI software solution, the entry process can be highly automated.

Do I need to be licensed by US Customs?

No.  According to the Customs regulations, an importer may file entries, for their own benefit, without a license.  (The same holds true for self-filing ISFs).

Do I need to have a broker on staff?

A licensed broker on staff is not required by CBP.  However, to ensure a successful and highly compliant direct filing program, it is important to have a well-trained, experienced and knowledgeable staff with proper employee oversight.

What type of entries can I direct file?

As an importer of record, you are legally able to file any and all types of entries with US Customs.  That includes air, ocean, truck and rail and even hand-carried shipments, however, the specific processes required for the different modes of transportation may vary.  Each importer should factor in their unique supply chain business requirements when determining which entries should be direct filed and which are best left with a broker.

Will I need additional resources to file my own entries?

Your current compliance process should be thoroughly reviewed to understand future staffing needs under direct filing.  Questions such as “How much time does my staff currently spend on broker oversight, problem resolution and manual audits?” should be answered.  We’ve found that most average sized importers have enough resources on staff to implement the initial direct filing process.  However, as savings are generated and the program expands further, additional staffing may be necessary.

How does the duty payment process work?

The importer must be set up with CBP to pay their duties via the ABI system through ACH (Automated Clearing House).  This requires submission of a simple application form to CBP’s finance department, which takes about 10 days to process.

How long does it take to get started?

For entries, from start to finish the process can take anywhere from 8-10 weeks.  It takes approximately 6 weeks to receive a filer code from CBP, during which time the system can be set up and some training conducted. (If the importer already has a filer code, this speeds up the process).  Once the filer code is received, and a Customs’ ABI Client Representative is assigned to your account, allow an additional week or two for entry training and CBP testing to be completed and reviewed.  Once the testing has been completed sufficiently, the go-ahead to direct file is given from Customs.  For ISFs, the process is much shorter — just a matter of days until you can self-file.

For even more answers to common questions, please visit CustomsNow’s FAQ page.  And if you would like to schedule a demo of our ABI solution, please contact us.

Obama’s Executive Order to speed cargo clearance

President_Barack_ObamaPresident Obama has signed an Executive Order on Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses.  The move, expected to especially benefit small and medium-sized businesses, calls for the completion of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016.

According to the Executive Order’s Fact Sheet, the ITDS, on which work has been underway for several years, will enable “businesses to transmit, through an electronic ‘single-window,’ the data required by the the U.S. Government to import or export cargo.”  Currently, the trade must submit data — most often in paper format — to at least 47 participating government agencies (PGAs) having possibly having jurisdiction over cargo.  Soon, all “paperwork” will be submitted electronically, “reducing time for clearing goods from many days to, in some cases, seconds.”

The ITDS initiative is a vital part of CBP’s ongoing Trade Transformation initiative, the agency’s approach to modernizing trade.


“Horrible” conditions at NY/NJ seaport

trafficContainer terminals at the New York – New Jersey seaport complex are suffering the wrath of drayage company owners who claim conditions are “horrible” and “broken” and adversely affecting their businesses.  One of the major underlying causes appears to be the terminals’ limited truck gate hours, causing mile-long truck backups at the gates.  Additional factors include slow turn times due to ILA labor shortages and severe winter weather.

Although a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey task force promises to issue a report in June recommending improvements, it may be too late for the transport companies, whose customers are threatening to divert shipment to other East Coast ports.  See the full story in the Journal of Commerce (site registration required).

CBP expands ACE Cargo Release test to ocean and rail

seal_aceAs published in yesterday’s Federal Register, US Customs has increased the scope of the current ACE Cargo Release test — formerly known as Simplified Entry test — to include ocean and rail modes of transport. (Previously, the test was limited to air transport only).

In addition, CBP is inviting more participants to join the test.  Eligible participants include self-filing importers and brokers who use an ACE-Certified ABI system (such as CustomsNow’s) to file entries.  Other eligibility criteria apply, and the test is limited to certain ports only.

See the official notice at CSMS 14-000071, and our previous blog posts on the ACE Cargo Release pilot.