The use of the ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) system for all electronic manifest (eManifest) filings has been mandatory since May 1, 2015. Carriers, freight forwarders, customs brokers and importer self-filers in all modes of transport must submit cargo and conveyance data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before the carriers arrives at the border. Submission timeframes vary by mode of transport; for example, eManifest data must be validated by CBP one hour before arrival for non-FAST highway carriers and 30 minutes before arrival for FAST carriers.
This requirement allows customs officers to flag high-risk shipments more effectively and improve safety, while facilitating the clearance of low-risk goods. To avoid heavy penalties, delayed shipments and denial of entry, it’s important for carriers and trade participants to understand different shipment types, whether they should be manifested via ACE, how to file the eManifest in ACE, and what information should be included. Compliance ensures that shipments reach their recipients in a timely manner.
What is a Shipment Type?
A shipment type (also known as release option or clearance type) is the method of transportation used by carriers crossing United States borders. The shipment type is a specified good or collection of specified goods listed in a bill of lading, waybill or similar document that serves as a contract of carriage between two or more individuals. The shipment type is used to obtain clearance from CBP and partner government agencies (PGA). It is the responsibility of the importer or the customs broker to select the shipment type and communicate the necessary information to carriers, who will create the eManifest and send it to CBP via ACE.
Formal and Informal Entries
Shipments are categorized by value in the U.S. and many countries. In the U.S., there are formal entries (high-value goods often used for commercial and resale purposes) and informal entries (lower-value goods for personal or commercial use). Shipments valued at more than $2,500 are considered high-value goods and called formal entries. Shipments valued at $801 to $2,500 are considered informal entries, while shipments valued at $0 to $800 are called Section 321. Formal entries require a surety bond, while informal entries do not. Informal entries may or may not require an eManifest submission.
Section 321 Entry & Requirements
A Section 321 entry is a type of informal entry that allows the release of goods valued at $800 or less. To be released under a Section 321, the shipment must not exceed $800 in value and must not be one of several lots covered by a single order or contract. Section 321 entries are beneficial to importers because they reduce paperwork for low-value goods and allow faster clearance processing.
The daily restriction for Section 321 goods is one shipment per individual or company per day. Importers cannot consolidate multiple Section 321 shipments into one shipment, because the total value will then exceed $800. Each Section 321 shipment must be manifested separately on the eManifest with a unique shipment control numbers (SCN).
Most goods not exceeding $800 in value can be released as a Section 321 entry, with a few exceptions: goods requiring inspection before release (regardless of value), goods subject to Anti-Dumping / Countervailing duty (ADD/CVD), quota-class goods, and goods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), National Highway Transport and Safety Administration (NHTSA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). CBP may refuse to clear a Section 321 shipment if the shipment is deemed high risk for a particular type of merchandise or class.
ACE eManifest for Section 321 Entry
Section 321 shipments don’t have to be included in the eManifest if all shipments in the truck are Section 321. If the carrier is transporting Section 321 goods AND other shipment types, all goods (including Section 321 shipments) must be declared in the ACE eManifest.
Section 321 Entry Requirements
A Section 321 shipment is different from a PAPS shipment (PAPS is the default shipment type for most commercial goods entering the U.S. and for goods transported by highway carriers), but the carrier must still provide a unique shipment control number (SCN) and the following required data:
· Country of origin of the merchandise
· Shipper name, address and country
· Ultimate consignee name and address (Courier service or postal office addresses are not allowed.)
· Specific description of the merchandise (Cargo description must include a statement that identifies the shipment as Section 321 and a precise commodity description.)
· Shipping weight
· Value (may be zero, but must be less than or equal to $800)
As an informal entry type, a Section 321 entry does not generate an entry number for the carrier. Instead, the driver must show paperwork for the Section 321 to the customs officer at the border. It is easy to file a Section 321 entry as the process in automated in the Truck ACE eManifest. Simply select the shipment types as “Section 321” and include the information on the ACE eManifest.
Importer Self Filing
It is usually the customs broker that files the Section 321 entry, but importers can choose to file the entry on their own. This requires communication with the carrier about the shipment details, including data of arrival and port of entry. Once you know when and where the shipment will be dropped off, you must go to the entry port’s customs office branch and inform them that you will file an informal entry to process and pick up the item. Bring invoices, bills of sale and valid identification (if you will claim the goods personally at the port). Importers can also authorize other individuals to clear the goods on their behalf by writing a letter to the CBP Port Director.
Section 321 Entry Filing for High-Volume Shipments
Highway carriers can file import eManifests in ACE via the ACE Secure Data Portal, electronic data interchange (EDI), or a third party solution.
ACE Secure Data Portal
The ACE Secure Data Portal or ACE Portal is a web-based application that allows trade participants, government agencies and CBP to communicate with each other. The ACE Portal is free to use and requires only an Internet connection, a computer and web browser. While mainly a reporting and monitoring tool, the ACE Portal can be used to submit truck import manifests to CBP and access custom reports.
Electronic data interchange (EDI) is the main method of communication between trade participants and CBP. All ACE eManifests (except for truck import manifests) must be submitted through EDI. The EDI system connects one computer system directly to another for information exchange. When you send an eManifest to CBP using EDI, the information is linked to all CBP systems. EDI is recommended for businesses and high-volume users, but the cost of establishing an in-house connection with CBP can be very high.
Third Party Solution
Carriers, importers or brokers can easily file Section 321 entries for one or two shipments in ACE, but manual data entry can be time-consuming for high-volume shipments and frequent users. In this case, a dedicated ACE eManifest solution developed in-house or provided by a third party is recommended. CBP has approved a list of IT and logistics partners that have successfully tested their eManifest software and systems with ACE.
Working with a Third Party Provider for Section 321 Entries
Third party providers like CrimsonLogic’s Global eTrade Services (GeTS) offer dedicated ACE eManifest solutions for highway, ocean and air modes of transport. These solutions include automated Section 321 entry filings for high-volume or bulk shipments. Brokers and importers simply upload the file with Section 321 entries, and the application will populate the data to the eManifest and submit the form to CBP.
Using a third party ACE eManifest application has many advantages for importers and brokers:
· There is no need to buy, install or test expensive software and systems.
· ACE eManifest software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are very affordable, with many pricing plans available for all types of businesses.
· The service provider is responsible for updating the software.
· Round-the-clock customer support is available by phone, email and Live Chat in case you have trouble with the software or you need help with shipment types, forms, and customs clearance processing.
· Use your existing in-house system to process Section 321 entries with third party integration options.
· Manual data entry is reduced as well as errors and duplication caused by repetition.
CrimsonLogic GeTS’ ACE eManifest solution features a secure corporate account and high availability for enterprise clients, an easy-to-use app that reduces the amount of data entry to save time, report generation to track and analyze cargo movements, advanced integration with existing systems, and multiple connectivity options: web, fax and integration.
CrimsonLogic GeTS is a CBP-approved IT partner offering best-in-class and innovative logistics solutions. A leading provider of ACE eManifest solutions, CrimsonLogic GeTS was the first to market with its revolutionary Fax2EDI service that drastically reduced paperwork and kept carriers on the road. For businesses that handle high volume shipments, CrimsonLogic GeTS’ ACE eManifest solution allows carriers to upload Section 321 entries very quickly. Carriers can do this online, via fax or email or using current in-house systems integrated with the CrimsonLogic GeTS ACE eManifest application.
To learn more about Section 321 Entry, please visit our ACE eManifest page. Get a 30-day free trial by clicking on the Try For Free button. You may also send us a message through the online form on our Contact Us page.