Last Thursday, the CCBFA and Roanoke Trade were kind enough to host an outreach seminar on ACE.  The featured speakers were Steve Hilson and Vince Annunziato of Customs and Border Protection.

Their message?  If you’re a Customs broker, get on ACE now.  It doesn’t have to be a full dive into the deep end of the pool with every entry, but identifying a trade lane or commodity or portion of a client’s business that makes sense is a good move now.

They’re unapologetic about November of 2015 (when all entry functionality is scheduled to be live) and it will be here before people realize; their rallying cry is that now is when they have bandwidth to help filers and cannot guarantee those resources will not be overtaxed the closer the trade gets to the deadline.

The room was quite packed, and I would suggest that the word that jumped out at me the most and was recurrent through their presentations was…


You see, in today’s ACS environment (which takes 2 buildings to manage versus half a closet for ACE), the first notification that brokers and importers can receive that something is released is five days prior to arrival at the port of entry.  Under ACE, CBP envisions that an admissible for entry can be provided a day after the cargo departs the port of origin.  This represents a wholesale change for the agency.  While it does not preclude potential holds for security examinations post-departure and pre-arrival, by and large importers can count on knowing they’ll have ready access to the goods after arrival.


Okay, there’s a real chance that we coined a word, but CBP has switched to a process called “agile development.”  This means they are delivering key components of ACE in fourteen week development cycles.  This has aided their roadmap to build functionality but also got their funding back on track from Congress which gave it the NCAA Death Penalty treatment; cutting it off entirely.

As such, CBP is planning to turn off ACS in November, 2016.  Concerns were raised about unliquidated and other open entries for things like ADD/CVD, which CBP said they are now taking under advisement at a management level to ensure they are respected and maintained.


CBP has said their vision is to do away with paper; the 7501 and 3461 will become a record keeping thing of the past.  Their vision is to allow electronic certification for everything from entry to PGA to TSA for all the agencies as well as CFS warehouses.  This places an additional responsibility on the broker for record keeping, but messenger services are going to have to reinvent themselves because the movement of Customs documents to and from CBP for processing or to and from freight locations to verify releases will be consigned to the dustbins of history.


“Customs is getting out of the signing, perforating and stamping business.”  At the birth of ACS more than thirty years ago, Commissioner von Raab at the time said that brokers must “automate or perish.” (Note: He was quite the charmer was Commissioner von Raab.)  The point does stand in that CBP is slowly but surely working their way into processing in an environment that matches the business processes here in the 21st Century and the sooner that the trade embraces, tests and is ready to work with this new platform, the easier the transition will be.


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