The U.S. ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) and Canada ACI (Advance Commercial Information) initiatives aim to streamline customs processing and facilitate the movement of legitimate shipments while strengthening border safety and security. The collection of pre-arrival cargo and conveyance data makes it easier for customs officials to flag high-risk goods and expedite the clearance of low-risk cargo.
The American and Canadian governments have been gradually rolling out ACE and ACI over the past two decades. Deployment has been slow, and many clients are still unprepared for the transition to paperless. Nevertheless, both governments are actively pushing for adoption by agencies and the trade community. By the end of 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aims to deploy all basic functionalities of ACE. When fully implemented, both programs will modernize cross-border trade and bring customs processing into the digital age.
ACE Highway eManifest
All trucks and highway carriers crossing U.S. land borders are required to submit advance cargo and conveyance information to CBP before arrival at the first port of entry. The information must be transmitted electronically to CBP one hour (non-FAST cargo) or 30 minutes (FAST cargo) before the carrier arrives at the border.
ACI Highway eManifest
ACI highway eManifest is similar to the U.S. ACE. Highway carriers must submit advance cargo and conveyance data electronically to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Cargo and conveyance data must be received and validated by the CBSA a minimum of one hour before the shipment arrives at the border.
After the client sends the eManifest for the cross-border trip, CBP or CBSA sends a notification to the carrier’s mobile device or computer. An “accepted” message means the driver can cross the border one hour or 30 minutes later (for FAST shipments). A “rejected” message means that something has to be corrected and resubmitted to customs. At the border, the driver presents the ACE or ACI cover sheet, and the official retrieves and matches the data with the broker submission. The officer will either release the truck or refer to secondary for further processing.
Trade participants can send ACE ACI eManifest data to customs officials via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), web portal or a customs-approved eManifest solution from a third-party provider.
The ACE Secure Data Portal and ACI eManifest Portal are free, web-based access points that allow trucks and freight forwarders to submit pre-arrival data to CBP and CBSA. In Canada, the eManifest Portal was originally designed for small and midsize businesses to facilitate compliance. In the U.S., the ACE Portal allows trucks to send import eManifest data to CBP and users to view data and generate reports. Clients are welcome to try the web portal option, but neither ACE nor ACI portal is intended for high-volume, high-frequency users. The portals also do not allow data sharing with other parties. For businesses that frequently send cargo from the U.S. to Canada and vice versa, the use of a dedicated ACE/ACI application is recommended.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
The EDI system is a method of direct data exchange from one computer to another; in this case, between the carrier or freight forwarder and CBP or CBSA. For northbound shipments, clients can send data to CBSA via EDI using a Value Added Network (VAN), Customs Internet Gateway, direct connection, or a third party solution. For southbound shipments, clients can send data to CBP via EDI or Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity. For VPN connectivity, clients can use one of four communication methods: Public Internet Cisco VPN/MQ Series, Verizon or AT&T Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) VPN a private Cisco VPN/MQSeries solution, Service Center, or VAN (value-added network).
Third Party Solution
EDI is a great option for larger businesses, but it can be costly to implement in-house. Besides the technology and infrastructure, you will need to hire people to setup, manage and maintain the system. A cost-effective alternative to EDI is a partnership with a CBP or CBSA-approved third party technology provider. Approved providers have tested their ACE ACI systems with customs to ensure smooth data exchange and communication.
Without the right technology in place, cross border trade can be slow, costly and inefficient. To comply with customs requirements while keeping operational costs to a minimum, highway carriers in the U.S. and Canada are looking to IT partners and third party service providers for help. Global eTrade Services (GeTS) is a customs-approved technology provider that offers best-in-class ACE/ACI solutions to the trading community. GeTS has more than 25 years of trade facilitation experience as a software vendor, and it was the first to market with the Fax2EDI service that helped carriers significantly reduce paperwork.
GeTS provides ACE and ACI highway solutions that streamlines business processes and communication between carriers and government agencies. ACE/ACI solutions feature templates, data validation, real-time notification, dashboard, report generation, mobile tracking of eManifest, PARS and PAPS status, advanced integration, and multiple connectivity options. Subscription plans include web, fax and integration.
A web-based account allows carriers and forwarders to submit eManifests to CBP and CBSA wherever there is a computer and Internet connection. The user’s online account contains details about drivers, shippers, conveyance, trips and shipments. Users can use trip templates to create eManifests very quickly and communicate customs notifications and responses (SMS alerts and email) directly to the drivers and other team members. Direct Information sharing saves time and alerts drivers when they can cross the border.
Fax (Business Process Outsourcing)
For clients with limited access to the Internet, carriers with after-hours shipments and those who need a backup option, GeTS offer a fax or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) solution. All you need to do is fax documents to GeTS’ central ACE processing facility. GeTS will prepare and submit the eManifest to CBP, forward the documents to the broker, and notify the driver when everything is complete.
Electronic Manifest ACE/ACI Integration and Collaboration
For clients who already have in-house systems, GeTS offers electronic manifest ACE/ACI integration solutions for transferring eManifests and responses from the in-house system directly to CBP or CBSA. GeTS also include ACI/ACE collaboration. Clients that use both ACE and ACI systems benefit from the eManifest Conversion Tool that creates a mirrored conveyance/trip for the return.
ACE/ACI integration into eManifest tools enables trucking firms to transfer efficiencies into every stage of their operations. With ACE and ACI on the same system, highway carriers can save time, streamline workflows and eliminate errors caused by manual data entry. With a single click, eManifest data is automatically sent to customs officials without needing to enter additional information.
Benefits of ACE/ACI Solutions
GeTS ACE/ACI eManifest highway has many benefits:
· Templates reduce errors due to repetitive data entry and allow quick eManifest preparation.
· SMS and email notifications inform drivers about the status of the eManifest filings so they know exactly when to cross the border.
· Carriers can prepare, submit and manage eManifests and other advance cargo information, including in-bond cargo data, within one application.
· A single system for truck release reduces processing times at the port of entry.
· Carriers can improve regulatory compliance with easy access to reports and previous data.
· Carriers and agents can track shipment status at the border.
· Data transmission is protected by enterprise-level security.
· Clients have real-time visibility into shipment status.
· Carriers can access and share information with other parties to improve visibility and speed of the approval process.
· Around the clock support. If you have questions or problems using the software, 24/7 customer support is available via phone, email or live chat.
Other ACE/ACI Services
Release Notification System (RNS)
The Release Notification System (RNS) is an automated application that sends you notifications of trade declaration and Pre-Arrival Release System (PARS) messages from the CBSA. PARS messages include the release status for shipments, the broker entry number, cargo control number, customs office port, date and time of release, and other pertinent data. Examples of messages are “declaration accepted, awaiting arrival of goods,” “goods released,” “status query,” and “arrival certification (in-bond arrival).”
Canada customs recommends RNS to file advance eManifests and receive broker entry numbers in ACI. With RNS, clients don’t need to verify cleared cargo by calling the broker and obtaining entry numbers. The RNS tool allows clients to notify other parties that are affected by the release. For drivers, this ensures timely delivery of shipments. RNS messages are also used to schedule deliveries, update systems and start preparation of accounting data.
GeTS ACE/ACI solutions intend to make the eManifest submission process as simple and quick as possible. It’s easy to get started with GeTS ACE/ACI. Simply complete an application form to be submitted to CBSA or CBP, an application form for ACE/ACI and RNS, and choose a subscription plan. Once you've set up your profile and templates in the ACE/ACI eManifest application, you can create and send eManifests within minutes.