The ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) is a system for data exchange between trade participants and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. ACE is one of the CBP’s automated systems that aim to streamline trade processing and bring it into the digital age. The ACE system accepts all data transmissions related to trade processing, including electronic manifests, cargo release, post release, export, and Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) information. By January 2017, CBP aims to make ACE the Single Window for trade processing.
ACE eManifest and CBP eManifest
A manifest is a document that details cargo, conveyance and crew information about each trip. An eManifest is a digital version of this vital document. In the U.S., an eManifest is submitted by carriers to CBP via the ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) before arriving at the border crossing. ACE eManifest and CBP eManifest refer to the same thing.
Compared to paper documents, electronic manifests help the government quickly determine whether incoming shipments are high or low-risk. By analyzing eManifest information in advance, CBP can accelerate the processing of legitimate goods while enhancing border security and safety. ACE eManifest also reduces processing wait time at the port of entry and improves the visibility of cargo tracking.
Currently, ACE supports the processing of highway, rail and ocean/sea electronic manifests. There are specific timeframes for the submission of ACE eManifest for each mode of transport. For trucks, eManifests must be submitted to CBP at least one hour the truck arrives at the border. Carriers must submit eManifest data to CBP via ACE using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), except for truck import eManifests that can be submitted via ACE using the ACE Secure Data Portal.
The ACE Portal was originally designed for small and midsize businesses to facilitate compliance. With a computer, browser and Internet connection, highway carriers can easily send data to CBP via the ACE Portal. However, the Portal is mainly a reporting and account management tool, and it is not intended for high-volume users. For frequent users, EDI is the recommended data transmission option.
EDI users can establish a direct connection between the company’s system and CBP or partner with a CBP-approved third party solutions provider. Third party solutions are more cost-effective. They typically include a shared connection to CBP and a software package that allows users to create and send eManifests from anywhere in the world.
Impact of the CBP eManifest system on PAPS (Pre-Arrival Processing System)
The CBP’s Pre-Arrival Processing System or PAPS expedites the release of commercial shipments while each shipment is still being processed through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), the Automated Commercial Shipment (ACS), and the Automated Targeting System (ATS). PAPS is often used as an alternative release process to line release. The Trade Act of 2002 has made PAPS mandatory for all U.S.-bound commercial vehicles. PAPS is available through most U.S. ports of entry, but the carrier must be approved by CBP to participate in PAPS.
To request a PAPS release, the carrier or importer/exporter must send the required documents in advance before the shipment arrives at the border. Every PAPS shipment has a barcode label (with the SCAC and Pro-Bill number or filer code and entry number) that is attached to the invoice and the CBP form 7533 inward manifest (for Vessel Under Five Tons, Ferry, Train, Car, Vehicle, etc). The broker in the U.S. enters the information into the Automated Broker Interface to create an ACS entry, but it is the carrier who is responsible for entering data into ACE before the truck leaves a foreign port. Each PAPS declaration must have a formal entry filed by the broker. The broker must clear the PAPS shipment (via the entry numbers on the eManifest) before the truck arrives at the border.
At border crossing, the CBP officer will check the shipment in ACE with data from ACS. The truck is then released if no further processing is needed. Quick release through PAPS reduces wait time and congestion at the border. If you intend to use PAPS to release certain shipments, inform your broker and obtain the broker or filer code. To streamline processing, setup a fax system to send invoice, SCAC, and pro bill numbers, and agree on the advanced notice required for submitting an ABI entry.
PAPS and ACE eManifest
Under ACE, carriers that use PAPS must use one unique PAPS number per trip and assign a unique number to each shipment on that trip. Each PAPS number starts with the carrier's SCAC, followed by at least 4 characters. According to CBP, clients should continue using their PAPS numbers but assign a separate PAPS number to each shipment included in the trip. This ensures that each shipment has a unique Shipment Control Number (SCN).
After assigning the unique PAPS number to the shipment, the carrier sends the PAPS number to the broker by faxing the document provided by the shipper. The broker then prepares the entry, referencing the PAPS number provided by the carrier. After picking up the shipment, the carrier creates the eManifest designated as “PAPS” and containing the SCN and a general description of the goods to identify the shipments in the trip. To avoid delays at the border, carriers must ensure that PAPS numbers on the eManifest are identical to the ones provided by the broker.
The carrier then sends the eManifest to CBP via ACE. CBP will match the information to find out what shipments are in the truck. CBP will also send shipment data from the eManifest to the broker to view errors (e.g. different SCN or quantities) and correct the errors before the truck arrives at the border. Once CBP accepts the entry and eManifest, the truck can cross.
CBP eManifest At Border Crossing
Drivers must present their ACE cover sheet to the CBP officer at border crossing. The CBP officer will use ACE to retrieve the eManifest data and match information. CBP recommends that drivers have a complete set of paper documents (including the printed manifest). The documents should only be given to the officer when requested. This can happen when the eManifest system is down or the officers are doing manual checks.
Carriers should provide drivers with a summary of the eManifest containing details about the truck, driver, SCN, generic product descriptions of the goods, and unique trip number—preferably as a barcode. If the truck crosses the border multiple times a day, the officer can simply scan the barcode to bring up the trip information. If the driver presents any other number other than trip number (not barcoded), there’s a risk that the officer will mistype the information. If there is no match found because of the mistyped number, the truck will likely be detained at secondary inspection or even denied entry.
How to Use EDI to File Truck eManifests
Highway carriers can use the ACE Secure Data Portal or Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to send eManifests to CBP. The ACE Portal is a free, web-based access point. With a computer, browser and Internet connection, clients simply enter data manually and submit the information directly to CBP. However, the ACE Portal is not intended for frequent users or data sharing. It cannot be used to file entry or entry summaries. The ACE Portal is mainly used for reporting and tracking data.
For high-volume users, EDI is the best way to file eManifests via ACE. EDI is a direct method of data exchange between the client’s computer and CBP systems. Clients that use EDI to file truck eManifests benefit from faster transaction processing, data sharing between CBP and other government agencies, entry and entry summary filing, remote location filing, electronic census warning and overrides, corrections, and report generation.
EDI data transmission can be done through an in-house system that has been tested with CBP, a software application provided by a third party (often integrated with in-house systems), or a third party solution that transmits the manifest information on behalf of the client. Before they can send eManifest data to CBP using EDI, filers must ensure that their systems are able to send and receive data from CBP. A systems test is performed to ensure that processes and programming are correct.
For first-time EDI filers, you must contact a CBP Client Representative Branch via email to get started. The client representative serves as the first point of contact for importers, exporters, brokers and transportation providers. The client representative handles systems testing and communication with trade partners, answers system-related question, and addresses issues. Those who already have a client representative assigned to them should contact the representative to setup an EDI connection for eManifest filing.
Third Party ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) eManifest Solution
Many clients prefer to work with a CBP-approved third party solutions provider for their eManifest filing needs. Being “CBP-approved” means that the vendor has tested their systems with CBP to ensure successful exchange of electronic information. CrimsonLogic's Global eTrade Services (GeTS) is a CBP-approved IT provider offering best-in-class eManifest solutions for businesses of all sizes. There are multiple connectivity and integration options available. The Web service allows convenient access anywhere there is an Internet connection, the Fax service allows electronic processing of requests via fax or email, and the integration service allows clients to integrate the CrimsonLogic GeTS eManifest software with existing in-house systems.