It is time for importers to start becoming familiar with using the new automated entry filing system developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs). Beginning on October 1, 2016, all entries for imports must be filed using the new system, called the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system. Customs and trade compliance organizations such as the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI) are now increasingly promoting information on ACE to help importers  learn  the system.

Importers and their customs brokers currently use the Automated Commercial System (ACS) as the computerized import processing program. ACS is the current automated system used by Customs to track, control, and process all commercial goods imported into the U.S. ACS has a facet of its system, the Automated Broker Interface (ABI), through which 98 percent of entry paperwork is processed. The ABI is a voluntary system, and is also used to process payment of import duties and related fees. ABI also has a limited report and query system for entry summary processing, visa requirements, quota status, manufacturer information and cargo release. ACS is considered to be a comprehensive import processing system. However, in order to keep up with technological advances and complexities in modern day import transactions, Customs has been working to develop an updated system.

ACE first became available for voluntary use in 2003 through a pilot program, and its capabilities have gradually been increased in set phases since that time. The new system still has an ABI facet which will help facilitate the transition from the old system of ACS. ACE is already used for a variety of matters. For example,  importers are now required to transmit advance rail and sea cargo information and in-bond transactions through ACE. The system can also be used to collect duties and fees via periodic monthly statements. The main types of entry summaries (type 01- consumption, type 03 – anti-dumping and countervailing duty entries, and type 11 – informal) can be transmitted through ACE. In addition, responses to requests for information on CBP Form 28 and notices of action on CBP Form 29 may be submitted via ACE. The new import processing system is nimble and includes a large reporting capability. There are more than  125 reports available in the ACE portal which can be customized to meet a user’s needs. 

There is now also a new option to correct entry summaries after importation. Previously, importers could file a Post-Entry Amendment (PEA) via hard copy. Through ACE’s Post Summary Correction (PSC) system, importers can submit a correction through ABI if the correction meets PSC criteria. The PSC process will replace the PEA system of correcting entries.

On the export front, Customs has also begun a pilot project to start including export documentation in ACE. In March 2012, Customs began the project to have export manifests filed via email into the Document Image System in place of the physical paper documents being presented at the port of export. The pilot project was expanded to all ports and opened to all carriers in September 2012.  The goal is to eventually have ACE as the portal for all export processing as well, including license applications, export control and manifests. However, it is likely this implementation is still quite a way down the road.

CBP has placed a wealth of resources on its website regarding ACE, and continues to add more. There is an informative link on  CBP’s website at: Several other links are available through this web page.

Overall, we encourage you to check out the ACE system as soon as possible, as it will be mandatory in the near future. It is an efficient and reliable system that will be able to help importers and exporters more easily navigate trade compliance matters.

By:   Jennifer Horvath, Associate Attorney