The benefits of using ACE software to manage imports and exports
For any company that ships goods to or from the US, it's critical to understand the Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE, as it's usually known. Interacting with this will be an essential and common occurrence for any importer or exporter doing business in the US, so it's important firms have the right tools in place to manage these processes.
What is the Automated Commercial Environment?
ACE is the primary hub for making customs declarations when importing to or exporting from the US. Designed to automate and streamline the reporting and processing of data at the border, it's the key centralized system used by the US government's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to track, control and process information related to the import and export of goods.
Its main goals are to reduce the number of manual processes involved in customs filing, increase the security of the system, minimize delays at the border by accelerating the clearance process, and ensure the accurate collection of all required customs duties.
This eliminates the need for manual processes and paper-based declaration forms. However, it does bring with it a complex set of requirements that importers and exporters will have to be aware of. For example, they will need to ensure they have a thorough understanding of what information is required, the deadlines for making filings, and what records will be needed for auditing and compliance purposes.
How can firms benefit from ACE software?
While firms can use a broker to handle their declaration requirements using the US' digital system, they may also choose to self-file, provided they have a presence within the country with local staff and premises. Incorrect ACE filing could lead to inaccurate or incomplete information being submitted, which opens up importers and exporters to a number of risks, from delays in clearance processes to the prospect of financial penalties.
However, there are options available to assist with this in the form of ACE software. CBP allows solutions from authorized vendors to connect with the portal through the Automated Broker Interface (ABI). This is the approved method for filing entry and exit summaries and allows businesses to automate many of the essential steps involved in customs reporting and manage their own filing without the need to rely on external consultants.
The key benefits that firms can expect to see as a result of using ACE software include:
- Faster release of goods from customs processes.
- Regular alerts to keep users informed of any updates or changes in status.
- Streamlining of duties payments by filing multiple entries with a single transaction.
What are the key capabilities of good ACE software?
While there are many approved vendors offering ACE software to importers and exporters, there are a few key capabilities that firms should be on the lookout for to ensure they're making the right choice to meet their customs requirements.
For instance, it pays to have access to a single system that can handle every aspect of the customs process. Some solutions are specialized to only connect with AES for exports and ABI for imports. However, there are a wide range of other tools that may be needed, and having all of these under one easy-to-use dashboard is hugely beneficial.
Among the other offerings that a good software solution should include are:
- Import compliance & export compliance automation
- 10+2 filing
- Importer Security Filing (ISF)
- Classification management
- Foreign trade zone (FTZ) operations
- Duty drawback
A solution that can also handle customs requirements and filing for multiple countries is also hugely important, as this enables the management of the entire global supply chain in one place.
It's also crucial for firms to choose a partner that offers a strong level of customer support. This not only ensures businesses have somewhere to turn to if they encounter any issues, but also provides peace of mind that their solutions will be fit for the long term. ACE data requirements will change over time, so software will need to be frequently updated and technical support offered to manage any changes.