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March, 2012

CBP outlines benefits to the trade from ACE

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

As mentioned previously in this blog, one of US Customs’ top priorities is enhancement of ACE so that it may supplant ACS in two years as the main electronic filing system for import of cargo.

To that end, CBP has been touting ACE at every opportunity, as part of its mission to generate awareness and interest among the trade.  Customs has recently published a document, “Trade Benefits from the Automated Commercial Environment,” that does a fantastic job of setting out a summary of functionality currently deployed in ACE, as well as the benefits that accrue to various segments of the trade.

The functionality currently deployed includes:

  • e-Manifest:  Truck
  • e-Manifest: Rail and Sea
  • Entry Summary Filings
  • Post-Summary Correction filings
  • ACE Secure Data Portal Accounts
  • Periodic Monthly Statements
  • ACE Reporting

The document then outlines the specific benefits, by functionality, that apply to the following trade segments:

  • Trade Account Owners
  • Brokers
  • Carriers
  • Importers
  • Sureties

Interestingly, CBP also highlights benefits for Self-Filers; that is, those who self-file their customs entries. The benefits are numerous and significant, and are just another reason to direct file entries…in ACE.

The complete ACE benefits document is available here.

Highlights from the 2012 ICPA Conference

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

CustomsNow recently attended and exhibited at the 2012 International Compliance Professionals Association (ICPA) conference in Atlanta.  As usual, there was a terrific exchange of information among the attendees.  Some key takeaways were:

ACE

Customs’ new system for the filing of entries, ACE,  is on a fast track and CBP anticipates completely turning off the legacy system (ACS) in approximately 2 years.  Before then, certain functionality within ACS will be turned off if no longer necessary.  For instance, when the transition of Rail and Sea e-Manifest filings to ACE is completed by October of this year, AMS will be decommissioned in the Automated Commercial System (ACS).

Cindy Allen, who heads up the ACE project for Customs, explained that CBP is already working in ACE and it is their “system of record.”  Even if you’re filing in ACS today, your entry summary data is transferred to ACE for processing by CBP.  Cindy strongly encouraged brokers and self-filers to transition to ACE as soon as possible.  Her favorite quote on this topic is “I’d rather be on the bus and not under it.”

Simplified Entry

This simplified entry pilot process is a game-changer and makes a lot of sense.   Entry filers will be able to file their entries as soon as the bill of lading information is available and CBP will make their admissibility decision.  (Currently they will only provide a release notification 5 days before ETA.)

While your shipment is en-route, you will be able to work with CBP or any Other Government Agencies (OGA) to resolve any issues or concerns they may have  (Often the only “issue” is just that that CBP or an OGA must verify that the importer has the necessary permit/document that is required for importing their product) and obtain a full release before the cargo arrives in the US.  This will provide more predictability and lead to less delays at the port.  Simplified entry may eventually allow for the entry summary information to be filed on an aggregate basis, perhaps once a month.

Direct Filing

There was a presentation on direct filing entries versus using a broker.  The pros and cons for each option were discussed in a fair and balanced way.   In the end, the consensus seemed to be that direct filing is a compelling option, due to the savings and increased control that accrue to the importer, if the importers has a solid understanding of the entry process.   Importers of complicated products (special trade programs, FDA-regulated, etc.) that are interested in direct filing should consider hiring at least one individual familiar with the entry process who can then document and train the entire department.   In addition, self-filing entries remotely brings greater uniformity to the process and reduces the need for port-specific entry knowledge.

Thanks to all who stopped by our booth.  We enjoyed meeting you and hearing your ideas.

CustomsNow's booth at ICPA 2012 in Atlanta - L to R: Nic Adams, VP - Client Services; Randy Green, VP - Operations & Support; Karin Smith, CEO

GSP retroactive process update — are you still owed a refund?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

As reported in this blog last October, H.R. 2832, which extended the then-expired Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through July 2013, became law.

Since that time, US Customs has been processing refunds of all duties paid on GSP-eligible merchandise that was entered from January 1 through November 5, 2011.

CBP has completed the automated GSP refunds, and ports of entry are currently processing the written requests for refunds (and those requests that failed the automated process).

Importers must be vigilant in determining whether their requested refunds have been processed.  If no refund is received by March 30, 2012, they must notify the port of entry in writing.  All refund requests must be made by April 18, 2012.

For more details on the specifics of the refund process, click here.

CBP west coast trade symposium announced

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Save the date!  US Customs will hold its West Coast Trade Symposium at the Long Beach (CA) Convention Center on May 10.  Online registration will be available soon.  Details can be found here.

CustomsNow exhibits at ICPA Conference in Atlanta — March 18-21

Friday, March 9th, 2012

We’re excited to share our direct filing solutions with you in Atlanta!

We may be new to the neighborhood, but we’re not new to compliance. As long-time industry professionals, we know what it takes to design, implement and manage a world class direct filing program.  We’ve done it for some of the largest importers in the country and we can do it for you.

CustomsNow is the leading provider of ABI & AMS software and is unique in that we are both an ACE Certified ABI vendor and a fully licensed Customs Broker.  This combination allows us to support your import initiatives in a way that other software companies can’t.

Here’s what a few of our clients are saying…

“The added compliance, speed of filing and cost benefits has exceeded our expectations and we look forward to a continued partnership with CustomsNow.”  – Anthony Melendez, Director of Imports and Customs Compliance, Wet Seal / Arden B.

“The knowledge and integrity of the CustomsNow team was a major factor in our decision to self-file.  They made the system integration an easy process.  Within two months of implementation we were self-filing even more entries than anticipated, thus further reducing our entry fee cost outlay.”  – Larry Matthews, Director of International Trade and Customs Compliance, Medtronic.

CustomsNow – simply delivering you the best-in-class SaaS technology with real-world compliance experience, and the industry’s best support at a cost you’d be very happy with.

See you in Atlanta – booth 129!


CBP advisory group worried about ACE funding

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

At a recent meeting of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of CBP (COAC), members expressed concern about a potential shortfall of funding for ACE.  According to the Journal of Commerce, US Customs “has $140 million to operate and maintain a commercial trade processing system, but there’s no money in the 2012 budget to further develop the program,” quoting Cynthia Allen, executive director of the Customs’ ACE program.

This troubles COAC member George Weise, who is concerned about the viability of ACE modernization projects currently in the hopper, such as simplified entry.  ”You can’t really have a simplified entry process that’s going to lower transaction costs without ACE,” said Mr. Weise, who as former commissioner as CBP’s legacy agency (the US Customs Service) and as a COAC member, has been working on ACE rollout for two decades.  He believes that the funding issue has reached “crisis” proportions, and exhorted fellow COAC members:  ”We need to have our voices heard on [Capitol] Hill.  We’ve got to get the funds.  We’ve got to get this moving forward.  It’s 20 years overdue.”

See CBP’s full recap of the COAC meeting here.

Changes proposed to CBP’s in-bond rules

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Last week, US Customs proposed significant changes to the agency’s current regulations relating to the in-bond process for imports.

The in-bond process allows imported merchandise to enter a US port without the importer being required to immediately pay duties; the goods are transported by bonded carrier to another US port, at which point duties are paid.  Alternatively, the cargo is exported without the need to pay duties.  CBP estimates that in-bond shipments represent 30-60% of all imports that move through US ports.

The most notable proposed changes include:

  • The elimination of the paper in-bond application (CBP Form 7512) and the new requirement to file the in-bond application electronically.
  • The establishment of a 30-day maximum time to transport in-bond merchandise between US ports for all modes of transport (90-day maximum for product moved by pipeline).
  • The requirement that carriers electronically request permission before diverting in-bond cargo from its originally intended destination port.

(CustomsNow already offers the ability to file in-bond movements electronically with Customs.  A Filer or SCAC code is required and we assist our clients in understanding the process to obtain these codes.)

The agency is accepting public comments to the proposed changes through April 23.  The full text of the proposed rule, as well as CBP’s commentary, can be found here.