Will Your Company Ace ACE Implementation?

Posted: Updated:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection's new Automated Commercial Environment is designed to streamline import and export documentation moving it from a paper system to a computer portal using "the single window" concept. Starting Feb. 28, the import and export community will file all forms through a single portal to reach all 47 U.S. partner government agencies impacted by shipments that enter and exit our borders. Think FDA, USDA, EPA, TSA and ATF. Years in the making and billions invested, will your company ace ACE implementation?

Many parts of ACE already are up and running. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced this week it will stagger implementation of mandatory entry summary and filing from March through May. We have been aware of the changes for several years and have been taking changes a step at a time to ensure compliance, including testing key processes that do not involve partner government agencies. Here are key facts for businesses that import and export goods:

ACE requires registration. All U.S. agents and freight forwarders must be registered in the ACE system to have access to reports, respond to customs forms, create a blanket declaration for customs agents and manage other pertinent information. There is an online form on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

Technology must be in place. ACE relies on a computerized portal. Having the right software in place is essential. Software vendors had to receive U.S. government approval before they could launch ACE programs. Check the U.S. Customs list of certified software vendors if you choose to use your own software system.

Check the depth of your freight forwarding company's expertise. Most large companies depend on a freight-forwarding partner to manage their import and export cargo. Be sure your partner has a customs broker on staff. We’re the point person who has the ACE registration, software and knowledge to properly file paperwork and clear goods on behalf of customers.

Review your import parts database. It’s critical to keep your product database updated. Change is normal at companies—including product changes. The proper classification determines the duty rate on goods. And, just as important, it should address whether a partner government agency is involved, given the new level of electronic visibility for ACE import entries. By not keeping your database and classifications updated, the level of government enforcement increases, risking a smooth entry. It could lead to an assessment or audit from customs or similar intervention by partner government agencies.

Know and input the right cargo shipment details. With 47 partner government agencies involved in ACE, getting the information correct on the import or export shipment is essential. With proper classification in place, be sure to use the right federal identification numbers for companies receiving deliveries. Often shipments entering the United States do not go straight to your business. They go to a warehouse for storage and are timed with the supply chain needs. If a delivery address is different than your address, a federal identification number for the receiving company must be supplied for entry. Invoices with detailed descriptions of the product must be prepared. It is important to classify the products correctly to eliminate any discrepancies; thus review your database as outlined above. Also worth noting, a federal identification number is now optional on the "ship to" field.

Plan ahead. Send documents prior to arrival of the shipment to allow time for review. If there are questions or issues, this gives time to provide clarifications and keep cargo moving.

Know the rules from the country of origin.  Verify the rules of origin for specific goods. There is a five-year statute of limitations on customs auditing. Since ACE relies on computers, government agency staff will have easily searchable information at their fingertips. Customs relies on post-entry auditing of entries and documents to enforce compliance. From 2011 to 2014, total penalties assessed increased 140 percent from $385.4 million to $925.9 million. There is no doubt the government will be watching and assessing.

Be patient; there will be hiccups. Preparation is important, yet with a new system, 47 government agencies and a variety of factors in play, there will be hiccups. The trade community has requested a contingency plan from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. If all else fails, paper entries can be filed, which will take patience due to longer clearance times.

Leverage the resources around you. Don’t go it alone. Companies that import should leverage internal and external resources to prepare for ACE. A certified customs broker can help move your cargo, analyze cleared entries and evaluate post-entry work. Trade management consultants and attorneys can provide additional external support.

Importers are responsible for knowing every customs requirement and ensuring compliance. By partnering with a customs broker and other professionals with the expertise, resources and tools for ACE implementation, your company can focus on daily business leaving the details to the experts.

Diana Kepler is a License U.S. Customs Broker for Indianapolis-based Cargo Services Inc., a freight forwarding company. 

  • Perspectives

    • The First Thing Nonprofit Boards Should Focus On: Member Engagement

      There is no shortage of literature on how to run a nonprofit and what the board of directors should be doing. Do a quick search for “grant writing advice” or “board meeting agenda” and you will easily find hundreds of resources. But if there is so much helpful information around, why is serving on a nonprofit board sometimes so draining? After founding two nonprofits, Musical Family Tree and the Speak Easy, as well as serving on several nonprofit boards...

    More

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy The Times of Northwest Indiana)

      Hammond Pulls 135 Jobs from Illinois

      A Hammond factory recently vacated by Michigan-based Lear Corp. didn’t sit empty for very long. Midland Metal Products has taken over the former seat factory, having relocated from Chicago after 95 years. 

    • ‘Transformation’ Continues in Westfield

      Indiana’s fastest growing city is showing no signs of slowing down.  Mayor Andy Cook says now that Westfield has established itself as a destination for family sports with the Grand Park Sports Campus, the $35 million Grand Junction Plaza will transform the city’s downtown into a destination, a place “where people want to be.”   Cook says the project, more than a decade in the making, is an example of a place making strategy necessary for Midwest...
    • Gateway Park will lead into the downtown district.

      Plans For New Muncie Facility Halted

      Plans for a $75 million project at the former BorgWarner site in Muncie have come to a halt.  Nigel Morrison, director of Waelz Sustainable Products LLP says “a campaign of misinformation tainted the process and ultimately made it impossible for the city council to continue supporting the project.” The project was first announced in January and was slated to create up to 90 new jobs. The announcement follows the opposition of Muncie residents who...

       

    • (photo courtesy of the Marshall County EDC)

      Wire and Cable Startup to Set Up Shop in Argos

      A startup wire and cable company has announced plans to launch operations in Marshall County. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Sequel Wire and Cable LLC will invest $53 million to purchase and equip the 50,000-square-foot Argos Manufacturing Center and create 120 jobs by the end of 2024. The company plans to expand the facility to more than 162,000 square feet and begin operations in early 2020. The $2.7 million Argos Manufacturing Center was built in part with...

    • Corn, Soybean Groups Name New CEO

      The the Indiana Soybean Alliance Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the Indiana Corn Growers Association have named a new chief executive officer. Courtney Kingery is currently global director of Health & Wellness Innovation for Chicago-based Tate & Lyle and has experience as a grain trader and marketing director for oilseeds and food ingredients for ADM.