The Single Window (SW) system is a portal that allows entities that participate in global trade and logistic activities to submit required documents to regulatory agencies. A single window system allows cross-border traders such as shippers, carriers, customs brokers and agents to file customs declarations, trade permit applications, house bills, summary data, certificates of origin, trade invoices and other supporting documents electronically. SW also allows customs agencies to easily communicate with trade participants through one platform.
Before single window systems, traders often had to deal with several agencies in various locations to obtain permits and release documents like cargo clearances. A single window for the exchange of information between regulatory agencies and clients aims to facilitate trade and increase efficiency by helping participants save time and money.
SW USA: Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)
In the United States, the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will serve as the single electronic window for regulatory agencies and trade participants by the end of 2016. Since May 1, 2015, filing of electronic manifests through ACE has been mandatory. Later in November 2015, all electronic cargo release and entry summary data must be submitted through ACE. By October 1, 2016, all other remaining electronic filings must be filed through ACE.
Before U.S. Customs named ACE as the primary single electronic window, cargo filings were submitted to the predecessor of the current system, the Automated Commercial System (ACS). A main component of the ACS is the Automated Broker Interface (ABI), a portal that allows traders to file import data. Currently, majority of filings to U.S. Customs still go through the ABI. The export counterpart of the ABI is the now decommissioned Automated Export System (AES), which allowed exporters to file manifest data to CPB.
U.S. Customs is slowly transitioning the trading community to the much more efficient ACE system, which is designed from the beginning to integrate multiple components into a single database.