ACE program gaining momentum at borders

| 5/9/2006

If you truck cross-border and haven’t heard about ACE yet, you could soon get a wake-up call when it becomes mandatory.

Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE, is a program designed to make trade more safe and efficient for border truck traffic.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is ready to launch the fourth phase of ACE, which has grown to include more than 2,000 importers and brokers in the past eight months.

Brokers and importers can enter the system voluntarily – soon to be mandatory – to pay their duties and border fees monthly instead of paying by individual transaction. It will soon be the preferred method to let border agents know what you’re hauling so you don’t have to wait as long for inspections.

ACE was supposed to be phased in already, but it’s still voluntary. The mandatory phase could happen by the end of the year.

Companies that don’t use ACE will soon not be able to use faxes to send their shipment data to the border. Customs has to approve the data, and soon the whole system will be electronic through the ACE program.

ACE accounts totaled more than $510.6 million in duties paid through the system in April, which was about 25 percent of total duties and fees, according to Customs officials.

Customs has completed the installment of ACE ports at all 13 border crossings in Texas, and there are currently 41 ACE ports at other U.S. border crossings.

ACE is being developed in the trucking world, but will soon apply to hauling by rail, air and sea.

Trucks equipped with an e-Manifest, which is part of the ACE system, will approach a border crossing in a similar way to an automatic toll-payment lane, which will expedite safe trade.

Carriers can also use ACE data to track shipments, according to CBP.