When we started our “countdown to ACE” two years ago, the deadline for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) for all goods transported into and out of the United States seemed far away. Now it’s dead ahead and coming up fast on February 28. The amount of work that went into preparing brokers for ACE was so immense, that this past summer the deadline was pushed back to February from November 1.

With just over a month to go, some members of the supply chain and logistics community still have questions:

To begin, what exactly is ACE again?

  • According to Customs and Border Protection, ACE is “a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) system designed to facilitate legitimate trade while enhancing border security. ACE will improve collection, sharing, and processing of information submitted to CBP and government agencies.”
  • The goal of implementing ACE is to further tighten the security of U.S. borders and streamline the process of checking what’s coming in and going out, making in-depth scrutiny easier by bringing the compliance process to a digital, electronic and real-time format.
  • Starting next month, ACE will be the only means of filing and exchanging import and export related information with Customs and Border Protection. It follows similar initiatives, such as the European Union’s Import Control System (ICS), and is in line with the overall global eCustoms agenda.

What’s the big deal?

  • The ACE Entry Summary filing has been available now for three years, but thus far only about 67 percent of available entries are being submitted via ACE.
  • At the time of the original November 1 deadline, the FDA had only received 94 entry lines with PGA data since August – with 84 of them originating from a single broker. To put that in perspective, the FDA usually receives about 32 million lines of data each year.  

How to tell if you are prepared:

  1. Is this the first time you are hearing about ACE? If so, you are behind the ball. Think: angry customers when orders are stuck in customs rather than happy ones pleasantly surprised by speedier filing processes and potentially faster shipments.
  2. Does your team have a timeline for when they will be fully up to speed? Leaving preparations to the last minute could pose major problems for importers. With nearly 47 regulatory government agencies eventually coming in to the new system, each department will have greater visibility into U.S. import entries, meaning increased efficiency and safety. Failure to get on board could mean cargo not being released and importers not getting their goods.
  3. Have you considered taking extra steps to prepare for ACE? There are a few tips to help make the process as seamless as possible, including assessing your business risk by making sure databases classify items in accordance with new policies and evaluating cleared entries for future reference. 

Are you concerned you have your work cut out for you? Or maybe you’re feeling cool as a cucumber? Either way, we have resources to help you feel prepared when February 28 hits. Check out our ACE resource library for more information:

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