For several years U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has been in the process of migrating its legacy system known as the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) or the Automated Commercial System (ACS) to the more robust and flexible Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). One of ACE’s most ambitious goals is the creation of a “Single Window” processing for all Partner Government Agencies that regulate the importation of products into the United States, with the ultimate goal of having entry filers such as brokers or importers input and transmit the information to CBP’s ACE system at the time of entry, thus creating a single data repository for all the U.S. Federal Agencies with a roll in trade. The ACE “Single Window” will become the primary system through which the trade community will report imports and export.
CBP has put forth its best efforts into making the systems transition as good as possible, but this is a project of monumental proportions and ACE has not been free from problems and critics. The trade has encountered issues after some of the ACE modules have gone live. The air module deployment, for instance, caused a lot of significant issues and cargo delays upon inception. One of the most common complaints from the importing community has been the lack of time offered by CBP to test the ACE programs. The National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) has been instrumental in communicating and working out these issues with CBP, including the postponement of the scheduled and mandatory final transition date to ACE from November 1, 2015 to February 28, 2016 which by the way required approval from the White House.
At Taggart/CTS we recognized early on that ACE was not going to go away, thus no ACE for us meant no business for us. That was a position that we would not risk placing our clients and/or ourselves in under any circumstances. We committed to develop and work our internal ACE transition plan, and financial and labor resources were allocated to make it happen. We have been commuting on the CBP ACE road since January of 2015, back and forth every day, not easily, but relentlessly. Our executive team constantly oversees and evaluates our ACE progress.
But we are in excellent ACE shape now, as we have reached the following ACE benchmarks:
– Operational in ACE entry summary (CBP Form 7501 – Entry Summary). Our first entry was successfully transmitted and accepted in January, 2015.
– Operational in ACE Local Cargo Release (CBP Form 3461 – CBP Cargo Release)
– Participating in the Document Imaging System pilot test.
– Participating in the Remote Location Filing (RLF) pilot test.
– Participating in the Quota merchandise (including Tariff Preference Level – TPL) pilot test.
– Participating in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pilot test.
Through the ACE portal on the CBP website, importers can be view and extract their entry data, and customize reports. If you have not established your ACE account, we recommend that you do so, as this will be used more and more by CBP to communicate with the trade in the future. If you need assistance in obtaining your ACE account please let us know and we will be glad to help you get set up.
While it is normal to expect some problems beyond our control once ACE becomes the exclusive CBP operating system, our team will be prepared and as ready as possible to minimize if not completely eliminate the negative impact that these issues may have on our transactions.