ACE implementation winding down


After several tumultuous years there is finally a light at the end of the ACE tunnel.  The next significant release falls into the “Post Release” bucket and covers drawback, liquidations, duty deferral, reconciliation, eBond, as well as a few more housekeeping measures.  This release, originally scheduled for January 14, 2017, was postponed in order to provide the trade with more time to code and test the changes.  CBP has not announced a deployment date.

Beyond these updates, the ACE Deployment Schedule lists only “TBD: Mandatory use of ACE for electronic filing of remaining PGA data, pending PGA regulatory updates” as outstanding work to be done.

Many in the trade are enjoying the respite from the barrage of changing functionality and requirements and looking forward to stabilizing their import programs while enjoying the benefits of ACE (ie: Post Summary Corrections, ACE Portal Reporting, etc.)

At CustomsNow™, our programmers, after some well-deserved down time, have returned to upgrading the functionality within our systems and we’re very excited about some of the coming enhancements including web-based functionality, the ability access our applications using phones and tablets, and much, much more.

CBP to test tweaks of Remote Location Filing (RLF) program

In yesterday’s Federal Register, US Customs announced an upcoming National Customs Automation Program (NCAP) test of the Remote Location Filing (RLF) program.  Under the RLF program, self-filing importers, and customs brokers with a national permit and RLF approval, may file entries electronically from a remote location other than the port where the cargo is being entered.

The NCAP test, which is in furtherance of CBP’s Trade Transformation modernization initiatives, especially ACE, is slated to go live on August 12, 2015 through an unspecified end date.  Key highlights of the test are:

It is important to note that only ACE entries that are certified for ACE cargo release from summary may be submitted under the test.

US Customs invites the public to submit comments on any aspect of the test through the duration of the test.

© Port of Seattle image by Don Wilson
© Port of Seattle image by Don Wilson



A change on ISF bonds… and eBonds coming soon

seal_acePer CSMS #14-000637, US Customs is eliminating the late ISF submission exemption from bond requirements:

“Effective January 10, 2015, late ISF submissions will no longer be exempt from the bond requirement and most ISF transactions will require a bond when they are filed.  To avoid delay or examination upon arrival, importers should ensure that bonds are in place to cover the ISF transaction prior to the cargo being loaded on the vessel destined for the United States.”

While this particular ISF bond exemption is going by the wayside (remaining are those for household goods, government and military, informal shipments and a handful of others), the impact on the trade will be insignificant.

First, as a practical matter, most importers already secure a single ISF transaction bond (or use an existing continuous bond) in these instances.  Moreover, CBP’s eBond functionality, schedule to debut on January 3, 2015, will begin to render the current single transaction bond procurement process moot, as e-Bond will allow for instantaneous filing and approval of bonds for importers who do not have one in place already.  Specifically, on that date:

For ACE Entries followed by ACE Entry Summaries, or ACE Entry Summaries certified for ACE Cargo Release, where a Single Transaction Bond is used, an eBond will be required.  ACE will implement validations on these inbound transactions where, if a bond is referenced on a transaction, and no bond is found on file in ACE, that transaction will be rejected.

For all other single transaction bond scenarios listed above utilizing the legacy ACS system, eBond will not be required. CBP will continue the paper processing of these bonds until ACS is retired and supplanted by ACE for all transactions in October 2016.  For more information, see US Customs’ November 2014 presentation, “e-Bond:  The Future of Bonds in ACE.”

ACE eBonds coming in January!

seal_aceIn the August 2014 ACE Monthly Trade Update, US Customs announced that it will deploy electronic bond functionality in ACE on January 3, 2015.   This will enable the trade to submit, via EDI, bond transactions in ACE, which will “will streamline the process for filing continuous and single transaction bonds with CBP Revenue Division’s Bond Team.”

Benefits will include:

  • Creation of a single mechanism for the centralization of bonds, including a single place to locate any bond starting after ACE eBond deployment.
  • Reduction in paper processing
  • Faster release of cargo
  • Increased traceability of bonds for audit purposes
  • Expansion of bond issuance beyond regular business hours

At this time, ACE eBond will be required for ACE cargo release and entry summary transactions only, not for those filed in ACS.  However, as of November 1, 2015, when use of ACE will be mandatory for all electronic cargo release and related entry summary filings, ACE eBond must be used for all such transactions.


Basics of direct filing customs entries and ISFs, part 2

Are you a US importer who is interested in direct filing your customs entries (and ISFs) but don’t know where to start?  Here’s the second installment of helpful FAQs that provide general guidance on self-filing with an approved ABI software provider such as CustomsNow.  (Part 1 of our FAQs can be found here).

How do I roll out a direct filing program?

Each importer should thoroughly assess their import supply chain in order to develop a simple, logical and smooth roll out program.  Determining factors can include, for example, the number of paperless entries, the origin of the goods, the relationship with the vendor, and the mode of transportation or shipping terms.  You can do this in-house or hire a consultant conduct a complete business review and develop a plan that best suits your needs.

Do I have to direct file all my entries?

No.  You can direct file as few or as many as you’d like.  It’s best to select one import lane segment to begin with and grow from there.

What is remote location filing (RLF)?

RLF is the ability to electronically file entries with CBP from a location within the United States other than the port of arrival or location of examination.  Importers use CBP’s Automated Invoice Interface (AII) to transmit and electronic commercial invoice to CBP only when requested.

I already have a filer code for drawback; can I use it to file entries?

Yes, the same filer code for drawback purposes can also be used for filing import entries.  If so, only a letter to CBP’s Office of Information Technology, requesting participation in the ABI program and the assignment of a CBP ABI Representative is required.  This process usually takes no more than a week.

What kind of Customs bond is required?

A continuous US Customs bond must be on file with CBP in order to direct file your entries.  Single entry bonds are not acceptable.

What if my shipment does not clear “paperless”?

On most entries types (formal, informal), an electronic invoice can be sent via ABI and AII (CBP’s Automated Invoice Interface).  The invoice is automatically formatted in the ABI system when the entry is created, so the user simply transmits it directly to CBP, in any port, for processing and eventual release.  Some special entry types require that physical documents be submitted to the port of entry.

My broker has a relationship with Customs at the local ports and I don’t. I don’t want to lose that connection.

Although your broker has a relationship within the ports, it important that you, as the importer of record, establish one as well, if you haven’t done so already.  Direct contact with the respective agencies can ensure understanding that your company takes the responsibility of compliance very seriously and that you are experienced and in control of your process.  When issues arise, you know who to call directly to get answers or to resolve problems.  Only positive things can happen when direct relationships are built.

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


e-Manifest: Trucks — updated user guide

US Customs has just issued a newly updated user guide for e-Manifest:  Trucks, a capability that enables carriers to submit electronic truck manifests to CBP prior to a truck’s arrival at a US land border crossing.  The program offers the trade increased efficiency by saving valuable time at the border, reducing processing time, and offering online status tracking of trips.

The updated user guide now provides step-by-step instructions on how to create and submit an electronic manifest.  Other topics in the guide include:

  • Adding drivers, shippers, equipment to an account
  • In-bond shipment information
  • Creating unassociated shipments
  • And much more

The user guide is available here.