Trade Community Pushes for Delay of Nov. 1 Mandatory ACE Date but CBP Holds Firm
The trade community is continuing to voice concern about its readiness to meet the Nov. 1 deadline for mandatory filing of all electronic entries and corresponding entry summaries in the Automated Commercial Environment. However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not indicated any plans to push back that deadline.
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All electronic cargo release (formerly referred to as entry, CBP Form 3461, or simplified entry) and entry summary (formerly referred to as CBP form 7501) data submitted to CBP must be transmitted to ACE beginning Nov. 1. As of this date, electronic entries and related entry summaries will no longer be accepted in the Automated Commercial System. Filers who are not prepared to file entries/entry summaries in ACE on Nov. 1 could face significant delays in cargo processing that will affect the release of their goods at the border.
A trade industry group warned earlier this summer that “blind adherence to the mandated date has a real potential to create serious economic disruptions to businesses and international commerce in general.” They pointed out that only 60 percent of ACE entries summaries were being filed through ACE, and they expressed concern that there will be insufficient time to fully integrate ACE cargo release and entry summary with all the new participating government agency data element requirements into their upstream and downstream business processes.
The Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations to CBP (COAC) subsequently recommended that CBP adjust the ACE implementation schedule. For entry summaries that are fully functional in ACE already (types 01, 03 and 11) COAC recommended that CBP maintain the Nov. 1 mandatory filing date but allow for a defined informed compliance period if filers are unable to meet this deadline due to unforeseen trade or government systems issues. For ACE cargo release not involving PGAs or involving Document Image System-only PGAs, COAC called on CBP to implement a phased adoption schedule and provide incentives to encourage timely implementation. For ACE cargo release with PGA message sets, COAC said CBP should push back the mandatory filing date by 90 days, with periodic reassessment to ensure that all pilots have been concluded, that issues have been resolved and that the related PGA message sets are “fully defined and locked down.” Finally, COAC urged CBP to delay the mandatory filing date for quota entry summary and cargo release until Jan. 1, 2016.
Nevertheless, CBP has publicly remained firm on the Nov. 1 deadline. In a recent update to COAC the agency said that all capabilities needed to support the Nov. 1 date were deployed in July and were to be available for trade use as of Aug. 19 (although software providers say some of these capabilities don’t work so there is no way to test them). CBP also noted that it has been encouraging filers to begin preparing for the transition since early 2014 and that a number of implementation guides (though not all) as well as the ACE Cargo Release Business Process Rules Document have been issued over the past few months. CBP has previously reported that all ABI filers have been approved for entry summary and two-thirds have been approved for cargo release based on the readiness of their software vendors.
With respect to the involvement of PGAs, CBP was to deploy 14 PGA pilots on Aug. 19, with “aggressive expansion” phases planned for August and September, to both validate the PGA capabilities and prepare CBP and PGA field resources. Training webinars to ensure field readiness in preparation for these pilots have been “extensive and occurring.” In addition, PGA functionality was made available for certification testing by software vendors in May.
At the same time, CBP “recognizes that there is a lot of work ahead” to help the trade community prepare for Nov. 1 and noted that it has undertaken substantial efforts in this regard. These include extensive outreach to ensure that the trade community is aware of and ready for the transition to ACE, monthly calls with the trade community, a series of ACE and single window-specific webinars, and site visits to every CBP field office to hold discussions with local trade communities. CBP is actively contacting each of the top 200 filers to assist them with transitioning to ACE, and port personnel are also reaching out to smaller, local filers who may not be engaged in large trade organizations. CBP and various PGAs have embarked on a tour of 20 top ports (determined by where the major PGA-regulated imports enter the U.S.) that provides information on upcoming changes and pilot programs and answers questions from attendees.