Make Sure Your Business Is Prepared For ‘ACE’

February brings with it a new system for customs cargo release information submissions. The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) will be the only way to submit cargo release information from there on out.

With an original release date of November 1st 2015, issues with the new software and system delayed the roll out until February 28, 2016. The new system will be a paperless system utilizing a “single window” concept that will create a more efficient and streamlined filing system for import and export documentation. To illustrate that concept, it might be helpful to check out this tutorial on scanning documents into word to get a feel for how it might work.

The program is $1 billion over budget and three years overdue and this delay has had a severe impact on customs brokers who had already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in software for ACE and replacing outdated cargo processing systems. However, the benefits from the “single-window” concept has the potential to drastically improve the efficiency and profitability of these brokers and could end up offsetting the costs associated with the upgrade.

Each agency will have their own specific forms and documentation requirements and their own system for receiving and processing the documents. The trade community will file through a single portal that will reach all necessary agencies depending on the requirements for various shipment types. Documents may be required to be store in physical form as well as digital form, which is why some agencies may use a site similar to

Once ACE is up and running, all entry summaries will be mandatory through the new system and the outdated Automated Commercial System (ACS) will be decommissioned.

To prepare for the roll-out of ACE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) worked with 47 Partner Government Agencies to ensure participation between the partnering government agencies. The release will partially depend on the PGA’s participation in order to ensure all systems are working properly and all parties are on the same page. PGA’s have rejected electronic filing systems in the past so total cooperation is a necessity to ensure ACE can be as efficient as possible.

The outdated ACS has been holding importers/exporters back and a more efficient and streamlined system is necessary to keep up with the fast paced global market of the 21st century. Many of the individual companies that will be utilizing ACE have already upgraded their in-house systems to reflect the technology driven market place, and a new paperless customs system is the next logical step to take.

There is no easy way to go about changing the standard that the importing and exporting world has used for decades, but without progression there will be no room to grow in the 21st century global market.

This will not only impact U.S. exporters and importers, this is a global revamp of an inefficient system, but issues are likely to present themselves on the rollout date. The long term success of this new system will depend on participation and partnering governments ability to react to errors and unexpected problems.


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