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November 12, 2012

Three Tips to Successfully Integrate Canadian Customs eManifest (ACI) into Your Operations


This blog entry discusses a topic relevant to our trucking customers; the benefits of an early adoption of the Canadian Customs eManifest also known as Advanced Commercial Information (ACI). Although the ACI program extends beyond just Canada and U.S. truck shipments, we will focus on that aspect for this blog entry.

 
In Fall 2008, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) changed the process for pre-arrival of commercial shipments into the U.S. Trucking companies crossing into the United States from Canada were required to submit an electronic manifest Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The goal of the new process was to arm the CBP agents with pre-arrival information to help better assess the commercial vehicles, drivers, and shipments they would be dealing with at their respective points of entry.
 
Canada Customs (CBSA) did not have an equivalent system in place to submit an eManifest for shipments coming into Canada. 
 
This changed as of November 1, 2012, when the CBSA began their informed compliance period for the submission of advanced eManifests. To ensure a smooth transition to the new system, the CBSA has instituted a waiver period until Fall 2013. The CBSA has said that, no penalties or denied entry based on failure to use the system will be enforced through this waiver period. Instead, information and warnings to comply will be provided to the carrier regarding the requirements for eManifest submissions. 
 
CBSA will give as much 45 days notice prior to the mandatory compliance date.  Carriers may be subject to penalties or denied entry for non-submission or failing to submit a minimum of one hour prior to arriving at the port of entry.
 
CBSA has a very similar goal in mind as CBP: To arm their front line agents with advanced information regarding shipments they will be dealing with at their point of entry.
 
Since the ACI system is now in effect for the informed compliance phase and the Fall 2013 deadline will be arriving faster then we realize, here are three tips to early adoption of the ACI. These steps should help to smoothly integrate the ACI into your operations.
 
1.      Paper Copy of eManifest Portal Lead Sheet
The Canadian system differs from the United States system in that it includes an additional requirement. The CBSA requires that drivers present a paper copy of the eManifest Portal Lead Sheet to the CBSA agent at the port of entry.
 
Previously CBSA would stamp the Canada Customs Invoice and the Bill of Lading. With the implementation of the new system, CBSA may only stamp the lead sheet. The stamp is important, as this demonstrates proof of report to the CBSA.
 
The challenge with this requirement resides with the driver already being on the road heading to his or her destination, and having to coordinate delivering the lead sheet to the driver prior to arrival at the port of entry. The three approaches to delivering paperwork are:
 
  • Carriers arrange with administrative staff at the point of shipping to email or fax the lead sheet, which is then given to the driver; 
  • In cases of multiple shipments on one lead sheet, the paperwork is transmitted to the last shipper’s administrative staff, which is then given to the driver; or,
  • Coordinating to transmit the lead sheet via fax to a designated truck stop at a time when the driver is able to receive the paperwork.
2.      Educating Administrative Staff on the ACI Portal
Whether you are using an electronic data interchange (EDI) or the CBSA eManifest Portal to submit the eManifest, entering accurate and complete data is important. Failure to complete several important fields accurately may result is delays at the border.
 
Some good tips from the CBSA regarding the online submission form are:
 
  • Creating “Look ups” for regular shippers, consignees, conveyances and trailers. The “Look ups” should decrease clerical errors;
  • Complete legal names and addresses are required;
  • Avoid using abbreviations even for state and provinces; and,
  • Cargo description should be completed “sufficient to identify for customs purposes”. Anything too generic may cause delays at the border.
Click here for a more detailed list of CBSA data entry tips.
 
3.      Educating Drivers on ACI Requirements
Drivers need to know what:
 
  • Information administrative staff will require to submit the eManifest;
  • The driver’s requirements are; and,
  • The CBSA will be expecting.
It is important to work with drivers and create a solid communications plan informing them of what to expect when they arrive at the Canadian port of entry. This should decrease potential crossing delays and will improve driver confidence when submitting their paperwork. 
The end goal is to minimize disruptions to your company’s operations and by adopting the ACI requirements early on, this affords you more time to iron out any kinks in your company’s implementation and integration of the eManifest requirements. 
 
More detailed information on the ACI requirements and your responsibilities can be found at Canada Customs on the Requirements for Commercial Clients page.
 
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