Switch from ACS to ACE Means Changes to Consignee and Importer Queries


The ability to query a consignee in ACS was shut off with the  September 15, 2017 ACE deployment, and CBP is not planning to create this same ability in the new Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).  Read on:

In CBP’s legacy system, ACS, there was a way to query a consignee “as a means for filers to obtain a number which may be used as the ultimate consignee number in cargo release and border cargo release processing when the actual consignee number is not immediately available.”  The application identifier associated with this query was ‘KN.’

This Consignee Name/Address Query transaction allowed a filer to query ACS’s Importer File by transmitting the name and address for an ultimate consignee of interest and receiving a name and address information plus the consignee identification number.

Most importantly, this functionality also provided the ability to determine if CBP had assigned an identification number to a non-resident importer of record.  This feature was a valuable tool for brokers, but no longer.

In a response from the ACE Support Hotline, CBP stated; “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is aware of the trade communities concerns related to the discontinuation of the KN application in the Automated Commercial System (ACS). At this time, CBP has decided not to develop or transition the KN application in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). To query a Foreign-Based Importer of Record (IOR) number that is already on file with CBP, filers should contact their local or Remote Location Filing (RLF) ports to obtain the CBP-Assigned  IOR number.”

This is one update to ACE that seems to run contrary to the tenant of making information more accessible and transparent.  Brokers and local CBP port staff will have to take additional, and sometimes manual steps to determine this information.

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



ACE: Updates on Cargo Release and Entry Summary



The deadline of November 1, 2015, for the filing of all entries in ACE is rapidly approaching.  Here is a quick recap of where things stand at this time.

ACE Cargo Release

CBP and ABI software providers are diligently working on ACE Cargo Release functionality.  Today, you can file ACE Cargo Release for entry types 01, 03, and 11, in almost all ports for all modes of transportation (see our previous blog post as well as CSMS# 15-000198).  Some of the most compelling features are:

  • Corrections & Cancellations
  • Partial Quantities
  • In-Bonds
  • Split Shipments
  • Query entries via ABI
  • Certified from Summary
  • Single filing to include Importer Security Filing (ISF) data (ocean)

However, there are limitations on ACE Cargo Release which are listed below.  Almost all of these restrictions should be lifted on June 27, 2015, after Deployment E (Increment 9.)

  • Remote Location Filing for brokers
  • AII/EIP processing for self-filers
  • Entry Types 02, 06, 07, 12, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 52
  • Participating Government Agency declarations for:
    • AMS – Agriculture & Marketing Service
    • EPA – Ozone Depleting Substances
    • EPA – Vehicles
    • FDA – Regular
    • FDA – Prior Notice for Food
    • FWS – Deploying January, 2016
    • NHTSA – DOT
    • USDA – FSIS

The Diversion Process is scheduled for January 2016.  You will no longer have to cancel an entry if the carrier decides to call a different port.  Simply change the port of entry and away you go!

ACE Entry Summary

Like ACE Cargo Release, you can only file entry types 01, 03, and 11 at this time.  In June, the additional entry types will be allowed including 02, 06, 07, 12, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 38, 51, 52.

Reconciliation processing is scheduled for January 2016.  Drawback, Protest and more are scheduled for July 2016.

Many of our clients are already enjoying some of the increased functionality offered with ACE include entry type corrections, split shipment processing, and Post Summary Corrections.  After the June 27 implementation, we anticipate most, if not all, of our clients will be filing their Cargo Release and Entry Summaries in ACE.

NAPlease contact Nic Adams, Vice President, Client Services at CustomsNow™  if you would like to learn more about ACE and its many benefits to the trade.   (nic.adams (AT) customsnow (DOT) com).

ACE Cargo Release available at nearly all ports

At long last, US Customs has announced that all ocean, rail and airports are accepting ACE Cargo Release (formerly known as Simplified Entry).  All truck ports will soon follow on April 13 (truck ports currently accepting ACE Cargo Release include Blaine, WA; Brownsville, TX; Buffalo, NY; Champlain, NY; Detroit, MI; Del Rio, TX; Eagle Pass, TX; El Paso, TX; Laredo, TX; Nogales, AZ; and Port Huron, MI)

As noted in the accompanying CBP chart, capabilities for handling PGA data and Remote Location Filing (RLF) at all ports are coming soon.

Cargo Release Capabilities by Mode_3




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.


The countdown to ACE — get ready!


seal_aceLast week, representatives of US Customs and the trade presented at workshop, “ACE: Developing Your Game Plan,” hosted by the Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association (LACBFFA).  Here are some key takeaways:

Brokers and self-filing importers were strongly encouraged to migrate now to ACE, rather than waiting until the following deadlines.  For self-filers, make sure that your ABI provider’s software is ACE-certified, as CustomsNow is.

  • December 31, 2015 — mandated use of manifest and cargo releases in ACE
  • December 31, 2016 — mandated use of all remaining ACE features
  • More than 99% of entry summaries (types 01, 03 and 11) can be filed in ACE right now

ACE Benefits

  • ACE entry summary participation allows filers to:
    • Eliminate paper entry summaries
    • Receive faster CBP response
    • Decrease courier and administrative costs
  • Current and upcoming features require ACE entry summary filing
    • Cargo release/simplified entry
    • Electronic corrections and cancellations
    • Partner Government Agency (PGA) message set
    • Document image system
  • As for cargo release/simplified entry, the benefits include:
    • Enhanced cargo security
      • Allows CBP and the trade to identify and address potential risks earlier in the process
    • Streamlined release of cargo
      • Earlier risk assessment decisions
      • Earlier and more detailed messaging
    • Reduced transaction costs
      • Reduces costs for importers as CBP will request filing data only once
      • Greater predictability, allowing importers to make logistical arrangements in advance of arrival
      • Reduces “exceptions” needing special processing after arrival

ACE entry summary filers can benefit from additional functionalities, including:

  • File type 03 entry summaries using Remote Location Filing (RLF)
  • Conduct expanded analysis using data only available to ACE entry summary filers through the ACE Portal Reporting tool
  • Gain access to an expanded AD/CVD query
  • Perform electronic census overrides electronically from the ACE and reduce instances of electronic invoice transmission
  • Obtain more information from the ACE entry summary query than from the ACS entry summary query
  • Transmit Post Summary Corrections (PSCs) electronically and avoid the paper Post Entry Amendment (PEA) process

Enhanced reporting — importers who self-file, or those whose brokers are using ACE-certified ABI software, can:

  • Monitor their compliance
  • Monitor their broker’s compliance
  • Monitor their bond sufficiency
  • Monitor liquidations
  • Identify unauthorized filer of entries (protect against importer ID theft)
  • Monitor HTS numbers as well as trade preference programs
  • Monitor periodic monthly statement activity
    • End of month accruals for unpaid duty
    • Cash flow projections





Now file paperless AD/CVD entries in ACE

ACE functionality continues to expand.  In a move to facilitate more paperless entries, US Customs recently announced that filers may transmit anti-dumping/countervailing duty (AD/CVD) entry summaries via EIP/RLF in ACE.  As the trade knows, this functionality is not available in ACS.

Now, these type 03 entries can be 100% paperless, although paper reimbursement certificates may be accepted (but not encouraged).

See CBP’s guidance for more details.

RLF not always paperless

Pursuant to US Customs’ Remote Location Filing (RLF) rules, customs brokers with a national permit may file entries electronically in any RLF-operational port, even from a location other than where the goods are being entered.

While the RLF program is intended to be a completely electronic, paperless process, there is a little known rule — the hybrid policy — which provides for CBP review of certain other government agency (OGA) paper forms in conjunction with the the RLF data filed electronically in ACS or ACE.

Specifics about the hybrid process, including the situations where it would apply, the port at which paper documents must be filed (port of entry) and other requirements (e.g., original document vs. fax), are available in CSMS #11-000178.

Self-filing importers may file electronically in any port, subject to ABI filing requirements.  In our opinion, this hybrid policy should apply to filings made by direct filers via the Electronic Invoice Program (EIP), as CBP treats the RLF and EIP programs as the same.