The importance of effective customs self filing software tools

Ensuring customs paperwork is filed correctly is one of the most important jobs for any importer. Delays or errors in these submissions can have a wide range of consequences, from goods sitting at ports of entry for extended periods to financial penalties and back payments if the required duties have been calculated incorrectly.

While it is a complex process, the shift to digital customs solutions around the world offer businesses more options to streamline this and ensure the process is as easy as possible. In particular, it can make your customs documentation much simpler - provided you have the right software tools to do this correctly.

Self filing for US customs

While you could work with a licensed brokerage service to file customs on your behalf, doing it yourself can have numerous advantages, but it also comes with challenges. If you're choosing to self file in the US, it is your responsibility as an importer to provide all the necessary documentation to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before goods can enter the country.

At the heart of this system is the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), which aims to replace all paper-based filings and amendments with digital alternatives. For self filing importers, this is accessed via the Automated Broker Interface (ABI). More than 96 percent of US customs entries use ABI, which allows entry summaries to be transmitted, validated, confirmed, corrected and paid electronically.

Why use self filing software?

Handling the declaration and document submission process yourself offers a number of benefits, but if not managed properly, it can be easy to make mistakes that leave you in trouble with the CBP or other authorities. Sending incomplete documentation, filing late or incorrectly calculating what you owe can be costly, while manual processes also make it harder to manage the required audit trails.

Using self filing software helps you eliminate the risk of these errors. This ensures you can stay in compliance with the rules set out by the US government. With the right tools, you can also ensure that all customs filing operations around the world are able to be managed from a single hub.

The benefits of self filing for import customs

The ability to self file customs declarations offers a wide range of benefits to help international businesses operate as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible. Some of the main advantages include:

  • Lower costs: Self filing allows firms to avoid many of the costs and fees that would otherwise be required when using a broker.
  • Improved control: Submitting your filing yourself gives you full visibility into the process and lets you choose the method that fits best into your business operations.
  • Compliance: The right tools make it easy to ensure you have all the documentation you need to retain compliance and quickly correct any errors.
  • Flexibility: Self filing enables you to fulfill your requirements wherever you are and still keep the option to bring on expert advice if needed.

What must you do to remain compliant with US rules when using self filing software?

Companies using self filing solutions to submit transactions to CBP via the ABI must use software from an approved vendor that is ACE-Certified. MIC in the US, for example, is one of only a few approved vendors for ACE Entry, In-bond, Document Image System, drawback, Foreign Trade Zone, and Importer Security Filing. This therefore allows you to manage all US customs requirements in one place.

Regardless of the method you choose, there are a few essentials to keep in mind to ensure compliance with the digital customs systems. These include using the correct, unique filer code for your business, ensuring all duties and fees are paid using the ACH Payer Unit number, assigned by CBP, and retaining all entry-related documents for a minimum of five years, in either digital or paper format.

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