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ABI (Automated Brokerage Interface)

ACE Queries: Cargo, Manifest, Entry, Release, In-Bonds… Oh my!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

ace screen

Did you know that very soon there will be powerful ACE query for those with access to an ACE-certified ABI system?  This ACE query, called “ACE Cargo/Manifest/Entry/Release Query” or “CQ”, will provide those in the the supply chain with a “need to know” quick and easy shipment status information.

What types of statuses?  Brokers and self-filing importers can easily query their own entries and entry summaries to ensure release, as before.  However, the better news is that others involved in the supply chain can query the status of ANY in-bond shipment, and ocean, rail, truck, or air waybill manifest information.

Plus, with ACE, CustomsNow™ is seeing additional information being returned in these queries such as in-bond status, in-bond origin and destination ports, and more.  This new visibility can be crucial to those with an interest in moving the goods, such as a bonded warehouse, or a bonded trucker who relies heavily accurate information being on file with CBP prior to dispatch.

CBP currently has this functionality in “certification” with a live release date coming soon (see CSMS# 15-000226).

#ACEmanifestquery #ACEquery #ACEsoftware #ACE

A common misunderstanding about ACE

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

seal_aceMany in the trade have been operating under a misconception about US Customs’ Automated Commercial Environment – that they may file their customs entries directly in ACE.  In response, in its ACE Monthly Trade Update for March 2014, CBP issued the following clarification:

The Automated Broker Interface (ABI) is the only approved method available for filing entry and entry summaries in ACE. ACE ABI CATAIR-developed software is available through either a CBP-approved ABI software vendor, a self-developer or a service center.

The ACE Secure Data Portal does not have entry and entry summary filing capabilities, nor are there plans for building such capabilities. However, the ACE Secure Data Portal does offer key features such as (1) creating blanket declarations used in entry summary transactions, (2) receiving and responding to CBP forms and uploading solicited documents and (3) running ACE reports, and more.

If you are an importer considering self-filing your customs entries, make sure that the ABI software provider you select offers an ACE-certified system, so you will be ready when ACE begins to supersede ACS as US Customs’ system of record starting next year.

The countdown to ACE — get ready!

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

 

seal_aceLast week, representatives of US Customs and the trade presented at workshop, “ACE: Developing Your Game Plan,” hosted by the Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association (LACBFFA).  Here are some key takeaways:

Brokers and self-filing importers were strongly encouraged to migrate now to ACE, rather than waiting until the following deadlines.  For self-filers, make sure that your ABI provider’s software is ACE-certified, as CustomsNow is.

  • December 31, 2015 — mandated use of manifest and cargo releases in ACE
  • December 31, 2016 — mandated use of all remaining ACE features
  • More than 99% of entry summaries (types 01, 03 and 11) can be filed in ACE right now

ACE Benefits

  • ACE entry summary participation allows filers to:
    • Eliminate paper entry summaries
    • Receive faster CBP response
    • Decrease courier and administrative costs
  • Current and upcoming features require ACE entry summary filing
    • Cargo release/simplified entry
    • Electronic corrections and cancellations
    • Partner Government Agency (PGA) message set
    • Document image system
  • As for cargo release/simplified entry, the benefits include:
    • Enhanced cargo security
      • Allows CBP and the trade to identify and address potential risks earlier in the process
    • Streamlined release of cargo
      • Earlier risk assessment decisions
      • Earlier and more detailed messaging
    • Reduced transaction costs
      • Reduces costs for importers as CBP will request filing data only once
      • Greater predictability, allowing importers to make logistical arrangements in advance of arrival
      • Reduces “exceptions” needing special processing after arrival

ACE entry summary filers can benefit from additional functionalities, including:

  • File type 03 entry summaries using Remote Location Filing (RLF)
  • Conduct expanded analysis using data only available to ACE entry summary filers through the ACE Portal Reporting tool
  • Gain access to an expanded AD/CVD query
  • Perform electronic census overrides electronically from the ACE and reduce instances of electronic invoice transmission
  • Obtain more information from the ACE entry summary query than from the ACS entry summary query
  • Transmit Post Summary Corrections (PSCs) electronically and avoid the paper Post Entry Amendment (PEA) process

Enhanced reporting — importers who self-file, or those whose brokers are using ACE-certified ABI software, can:

  • Monitor their compliance
  • Monitor their broker’s compliance
  • Monitor their bond sufficiency
  • Monitor liquidations
  • Identify unauthorized filer of entries (protect against importer ID theft)
  • Monitor HTS numbers as well as trade preference programs
  • Monitor periodic monthly statement activity
    • End of month accruals for unpaid duty
    • Cash flow projections

 

 

 

 

Retroactive MPF — no interest should be assessed on timely payments

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

In a recent blog post, we noted that importers have been receiving invoices from CBP for payment of additional merchandising processing fees (MPF) for entries filed between October 1 and November 5, 2011 (due to an increase in MPF that was not assessed last year).

Now, there are reports that at least one port, Atlanta, has been sending these retroactive invoices with interest assessed up front (i.e., not assessed for payment after due date).    This is inconsistent with the posting on US Customs’ MPF web page that “CBP will not assess interest on bill amounts for the increased MPF.”

Of course, CBP may assess interest on payments made after the due date of the retroactive invoices.  But if importers have paid these bills in a timely manner, they can avoid the interest penalty.

Some Customs personnel have reported that there is a backlog in processing the payments, and as a result, interest may be inadvertently be assessed for timely payments.  In these instances, contact your Customs Specialist to discuss.  It’s likely that the matter will be resolved when the backlog is cleared and subsequent invoices issued.

To prevent confusion, we recommend that importers follow Customs’ advice for paying MPF:  “[M]ultiple bills may be paid with one check, as long as a supplemental spreadsheet is provided, which lists each bill number and bill amount.”  By providing this documentation, you can provide clear evidence of timely payment and avoid incorrect interest charges.

Paying now for last year’s MPF increase

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

US importers may be noticing a surprise in their mailboxes.  Many have been receiving invoices from US Customs for payment of additional merchandise processing fees (MPF) for entries filed between October 1 and November 5, 2011.

Why now?  If you recall, CBP increased the MPF rate last October 1.  Unfortunately, the agency did not complete programming to reflect the new rate for over a month, so entries filed in that window of time reflected the old rate.  Now, CBP is retroactively billing entry filers for the difference in MPF charged.

Details are available here.

ACE by the numbers

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

How is the ACE program doing?  It seems to be thriving, according to US Customs’ September 2012 “ACEopedia.”

Here’s just a sample of statistics for ACE deployed capabilities:

ACE Entry Summaries (types 01, 03 and 11)

  • Today, nearly 11% of entry summaries are filed in ACE, way up from the 1% filed at the beginning of FY 2012
  • 2.6 million ACE entries filed to date

Post Summary Corrections (PSCs)

  • 4,400+ PSCs filed to date
  • These importers may file electronic PSCs in ACE up to 270 days after the date of entry (currently 10 days if filing in ACS rather than ACE)

Periodic Monthly Statements (PMS)

  • Currently 68% of duties and fees are paid via PMS
  • Such importers pay duties the 15th day of the month following release, creating a cash flow benefit

Other updates on ACE deployed capabilities can be found in the “ACEopedia” (page 4).

Less than 2 weeks to transition to ACE e-manifest: rail & sea

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

September 29th is rapidly approaching.  As mentioned previously in this blog, after that date, ACE will be the only approved EDI for transitioning required advance rail and sea cargo information and ABI in-bond transactions to US Customs.  At that time, CBP will begin to decommission AMS for this functionality.

Most ocean and rail carriers and ABI in-bond filers have migrated to ACE.  If you have not, CBP urges you to meet with your Client representative to establish a migration date prior to September 29th.

Too many Post-Entry Amendments (PEAs)?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Some US importers are concerned that if they file “too many” PEAs, they will draw increased scrutiny of CBP, and may be setting themselves up for an audit.  Though that may be the case, importers can and should take steps to minimize, regardless.  Obviously, in order to reduce the number of PEAs filed, it behooves the importer to minimize data errors before the entry summary is filed.  To that end, following are a few suggestions:

  • Have a written procedure manual in place that outlines the responsibilities of internal staff and broker(s) for reviewing entries and supporting documentation prior to submission.
  • Involve and have written agreements in place with vendors, suppliers, forwarders, etc. that specify steps to be taken to ensure data accuracy.
  • Mandate training for all involved parties if the same errors persist.
  • Automate the audit process.  For example, request that your broker send you a file representing the entry details and systematically validate the HTS, value, etc.
  • If most of your errors are for one issue (e.g., HTS), consider flagging the entries for reconciliation.

An inordinate number of PEAs may trigger increased CBP scrutiny, specifically by the Import Specialist(s) in the port(s) where submitted.  If this is a concern, make sure to communicate to the IS the reason for the influx, and the specific plans in place to minimize errors going forward.

As many know, the PEA process is cumbersome, laden with paperwork, and inconsistently administered by the ports.  To avoid these pitfalls, consider filing entry summaries in ACE instead of ACS.    By doing so, you can bypass the PEA process and avail yourself of the Post-Summary Correction (PSC) process, which not only is paperless (electronic) but allows importers to file corrections up to 270 days after the date of the entry (currently 10 days if filing in ACS).

ACE: Complexities in shutting down ACS

Monday, June 18th, 2012

US Customs is making great strides in rolling out ACE.  Entry filers already have the ability to file entry types 01, 03, and 11 in ACE, which represents over 95% of the entries filed annually.

Presently, however, the vast majority of entries continue to be filed in the legacy ACS system.  The entry summary information is then transferred to ACE which is “CBP’s system of record.”  Simultaneously maintaining two very large systems, and their databases, while attempting to keep then in sync, is very expensive for CBP and requires more programmers.

In order to reduce costs CBP is looking into requiring that entry types 01, 03, and 11 be filed in ACE.  Previously CBP’s position was that the compulsory filing of entries in ACE would not begin until ACE could handle all entry types.

One concern for the trade is the lack of entry edits in ACE today.  CBP plans to begin work on these edits in 2012 (see ACE Priorities and Work Plan document), but it is unclear if all of the edits in ACS will be replicated in ACE.  ABI vendors may need to update their systems to include the edits that CBP does not program into ACE.

Another worry is that current Remote Location Filing requirements do not allow for the filing of ADD/CVD (type 03) entries.  CBP has been encouraged to allow for the filing of type 03 entries remotely.

Finally, surety agents have expressed a concern about their ability to receive data on bonds they underwrite — and for the related entries filed under those bonds — from Customs through the Automated Surety Interface via ACS.  How will this work with ACE?

The Trade Support Network, an advisory board of trade representatives, provides guidance to Customs on ACE issues, including the decommissioning of ACS.   You can monitor their progress here.

4 months left to transition to ACE e-manifest: rail and sea

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

As mentioned in our recent blog post, September 29 is the date by which filers must use ACE to transmit required e-manifest information for ocean and rail cargo.  That leaves less than 4 months for the transition.  And since it can take up to 12 weeks to complete programming and receive US Customs’ certification, the clock is ticking for the 12% of ocean carriers and 53% of ABI software developers who are not yet testing ACE rail and sea manifest.  (100% of rail carriers are either in production or currently testing).

See CBP’s recent CSMS on this topic here.