The Advance Commercial Information (ACI) program is a critical part of Canada’s border security efforts. ACI is a technology-driven program that requires advance notification of all shipments headed for the Canadian border.
ACI is administered by Canada Border Services Agency, as a way to manage risk by allowing agents to focus resources on shipments that have been identified as potentially high risk.
Purpose of ACI
The purpose of ACI is to allow CBSA to minimize the risk of hazardous products entering Canada, and to better identify threats to the country’s health, safety and security. Early notification will alert CBSA agents about incoming shipments that may warrant special attention, and allow them to plan ahead and respond accordingly.
CBSA exempts the following shipment categories from ACI compliance:
- Postal Shipments (full loads only)
- Shipments cleared through the Courier/Low Value Shipment program
- Shipments exported from Canada.
- Goods on board a conveyance that enters Canadian waters while enroute directly to a non-Canadian destination
ACI Program Benefits
Aside from strengthening border security and minimizing the risk of hazardous materials gaining entry into Canada, ACI has several important benefits for the cross border process:
- Electronic data transmission eliminates paperwork
- Advanced notification of pending arrivals allows CBSA to better allocate manpower resources, so that proper attention can be given to high-risk shipments.
- Reduction in delays and congestion
Implications for U.S. Businesses
U.S. businesses that use a logistics provider rely on their transportation manager to ensure ACI compliance. The following are a few of the requirements necessary to comply with ACI and eManifest:
- Software and technology compatible with CBSA systems;
- Dedicated personnel familiar with program requirements and capable of transmitting ACI-mandated data about each shipment;
- Dedicated personnel to monitor changes to ACI and other regulatory programs;
- Established contacts within CBSA to resolve problems and answer questions;
- Additional compliance capability for other U.S. and Canadian regulations, duties and fees, and processes.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Beginning May 1, 2013, shipments arriving at the border without having satisfied ACI requirements faces delays and possible financial consequences. Similarly, information received by the CBSA that is erroneous, or incomplete, will result in a “hold” being placed on the shipment that will only be lifted once the proper data is provided. Fines assessed for non-compliance range from several hundred dollars to several thousand.