ACE: Easing Cross Border Clearance Process

As anyone who regularly brings commercial goods into the U.S. knows, U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) has been involved in a years-long undertaking to enhance border security by automating and centralizing the border processing system.  The initiative, known as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), features a secure data portal through which any entity doing business with CBP must register and maintain an account.  While ACE applies to every mode of transport – rail, air, ocean and highway – several system releases/upgrades have been introduced that impact goods entering the U.S. via truck.  Among those developments:

  • In its January 2013 update, CBP reports that ACE electronic truck manifest capabilities are available at all 99 U.S. land border ports of entry.
  • CBP also reports that processing time for trucks has been reduced by roughly 30 percent from pre-ACE service levels.
  • The eManifest data interchange is fully operational, and available to all registered carriers with access to high speed Internet.  Through the electronic truck manifest, CBP personnel can pre-screen shipments as a way to detect any potential contraband or hazardous materials that may be included in the shipment.
  • Automated billing statement: Registered carriers are provided with monthly payment options and account statements that allow carriers to better manage payment schedules.  More than 60 percent of all duties and fees are collected each month via ACE.
  • Reports:  Carriers are able to generate numerous reports to evaluate their internal compliance processes, and make adjustments to improve future performance.
  • Carriers can also record and track data related to drivers, trucks, equipment and shippers.  This eliminates the need to re-enter data for each manifest, which saves time and eliminates chances for errors.
  • A link has been established from the ACE portal to the Importer Security Filing (ISF) portal, so that ISF filers can now access progress reports directly through ACE.  Prior to this enhancement, progress reports were only available via email subscription.

The concept and design of ACE is similar to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)’s  Advance Commercial Information(ACI) system.  ACI, which implented its e-Manifest data portal in late 2012, has become the cornerstone of Canada’s border security efforts.