US Customs’ ACE initiative designed to make international trade more user friendly.

In a move to reduce the amount of processing time, delay and paperwork involved in exporting and importing goods across national borders, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency has launched ACE (Automated Commercial Environment), an online system for data filing, processing, and storage. By November of 2016, ACE will become the Single Window for the trade community to report imports and exports and for the government to determine admissibility. The Automated Commercial Environment will fully automate and streamline previously manual processes, thus eliminating paper and making international trade compliance easier and more efficient.


The trade community can use ACE for all their filing needs, including:

Importer Security Filing data (ISF)

  • Import Ocean, Truck, or Rail manifests
  • Entries and entry summaries
  • Export commodity data
  • Supporting documentation
  • Responses to forms 28, 29, and 4647


An electronic export manifest will allow CBP to detect and address cargo movement issues early in the supply chain allowing for swifter corrections and thus reducing delays and inadequate compliance. The electronic export manifest also provides for the early determination of shipments in need of CBP examination automatically notifying the carrier electronically so the carrier can make early arrangements for the movement and loading of the shipment. CBP is developing these export manifests according to Modes of Transport (MOT), which will include:

  • Air Manifest – currently being coded for a pilot later this year to be announced as part of a Federal Register Notice (FRN). It is being coded in the industry standard message sets of Cargo-IMP 32nd Edition and Cargo-XML 2nd Edition.
  • Rail Manifest – currently being coded for a pilot early in 2015 to be announced as part of an FRN prior to completion. It is being coded to the industry standard message set of ANSI X12.
  • Ocean Manifest –currently being coded for a pilot early in 2015 to be announced as part of an FRN prior to completion. It is being coded to the message sets of ANSI and Ocean CAMIR.
  • Truck Manifest – still under consideration with no guidance for the trade currently available regarding electronic export manifest.

Getting Started with ACE

AS the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system continues to roll out, the trade community is expected to become compliant to the system in three phases:

1. May 1, 2015 – Mandatory use of ACE for all electronic import and export manifest filings
2. November 1, 2015 – Mandatory use of ACE for electronic cargo release and entry summary filings
3. October 1, 2016 – Mandatory use of ACE for all remaining electronic portions of the CBP cargo process

The first step to prepare for electronic filing is to set up an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) connection by sending a letter of intent (LOI) to, after which companies involved in international trade transactions will be assigned a client representative to guide you through the EDI connection process. Users then can obtain an ACE portal account by filling out an application at

Photo credit: Joshua Hoffman