New border rule is eManifest destiny

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 9/18/2012

U.S. truckers that haul low-risk cargo into Canada should get acquainted with a new rule that takes effect Nov. 1. Failure to register and submit the correct information electronically at least one hour in advance of arriving at the border could lead to being denied entry.

The correct information, or eManifest, is electronic data that includes the shipper and consignee address, delivery name and address, cargo description and packaging type, gross weight and customs information.

Before any of that happens, a trucker, carrier, importer or freight forwarder must first register with the Canada Border Services Agency.

An agency official says the eManifest program, under the heading of Advance Commercial Information or ACI, is similar to the Automated Commercial Environment, known as ACE, that has applied to trucks bound for the U.S. from Canada since 2008.

“We are now implementing the identical program northbound,” CBSA eManifest manager James Spina said.

Spina said the goal of the eManifest, which has been in development since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, is to strengthen border security while speeding up wait times for trucks hauling low-risk cargo.

“The focus becomes the Advance Commercial Information, so we know what’s coming into Canada long before it arrives, and we have the ability to acknowledge that to the carrier,” Spina said.

Spina says truckers will not need to buy new equipment to participate, but should get acquainted with the ways to send the eManifest data – either through the secure Electronic Data Interchange, or a web-based portal via the Canada Border Services Agency website,

To use the web portal, a user must obtain a portal business account from the CBSA and enter a carrier code supplied by the agency.

Confused yet? A growing list of third-party providers is standing by to help truckers and carriers obtain accounts and submit eManifest data. A list of CBSA-tested and approved service providers is available on the CBSA website. Of course, hiring a third-party provider comes with a cost, but as Spina points out, many participants are willing to pay a service provider if they do not wish to navigate the system themselves.

“The option exists to transit the data on their own,” Spina said.

During the past two years, the CBSA has encouraged early and voluntary use of the ACI/eManifest system. Spina reports that the agency has received positive feedback from truckers and carriers who signed up early.

“Many experienced expedited clearance,” he said.

Spina adds that despite the trial run and the pending compliance date, no system is without potential flaws, which he called “glitches.” He said the agency is always working to make the system better.

Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, has done numerous segments on Sirius XM trucking shows related to the rollout of the eManifest system.

She says her goal with the outreach campaign is to help avoid surprises at the border that could lead to truckers being turned away.

Ritchie has provided a simplified version of the eManifest information on the OBAC website, It contains links to help truckers sign up for accounts, access the Canadian Border Services Agency’s secure web portal, and view a list of approved third-party providers.

The CBSA continues to reach out to stakeholder groups as well, and has conducted a series of online webinars geared toward helping truckers and carriers better understand eManifest requirements.

Staff Writer Charlie Morasch and “Land Line Now” Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this story.

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