United States

Customs ACE System: Where it Currently Stands

By Richard English, Vice President, BPM and Compliance, Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc.

By now most people understand what ACE ( Automated Commercial Environment) is,  a system employed by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) division of the Department of Homeland Security. ACE created the single window of visibility to all phases of Customs services, import and export, and brings together partner government agencies so that service providers, as well as importers and exporters, can see up to the minute status messaging on transactions that are new, old, and pending with the US Government.

So the question everyone is asking is does this really work?  The answer is not as simple in that the best description of status is developmental.  The agencies have the interfaces with CBP and normal status messaging in real time is close to instantaneous. Get off track, outside the normal, and there are obstacles to be dealt with.

One issue catching everyone’s attention is that ACE is electronic, and paper processing is no longer valid.  There are exceptions, and CBP handles these exceptions without velocity. Paper can be processed but it is given the lowest priority and takes days to be processed. ACE processing is handled with velocity and response times are in seconds.  So the rule here is to make it happen in the paperless world!

Another issue, enforcing the CBP laws is enhanced greatly through ACE.  Manifest reporting through automated systems is also accomplished in seconds, for all modes of transport. The enforcement trend here is eliminating the loopholes that have been built up for years and enforce the laws for import and export.  A perfect example is rail imports which must have entries done at the train arrival and rail car level. This is enforced now and should eliminate the anomalies we all experienced in the past.

Of the partner agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency where most changes and enforcement practices are being exercised.  Much attention is focused on suppliers and receivers of food, with the emphasis on enforcement of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Like CBP and Manifest enforcement, here enforcement is also considered a key role in maintaining a safe and effective supply chain for imported food products. This same enforcement theme runs throughout the PGAs in ACE that keeps both import and export supply chains in compliance with existing laws. The CBP and its partners will continue to tweak and refine to maximize the benefits to all us consumers. 

At Yusen Logistics, all of our Regional Compliance Directors and Managers have participated in professional training regarding the ACE Portal. Please reach out to your product specialist for more information on this migration and the changes being undertaken to promote safety and speed in the international marketplace.