Every year, a staggering volume of trucks cross the U.S. – Mexico border, and increased security processes and regulations have sometimes resulted in processing times of several hours. Despite this, the US Customs and Border Protection agency has implemented certain programs to simplify the crossing process and increase the ease and accuracy associated with the most traversed border in the world. In particular, the CBP has deployed Automated Commercial Environment electronic processing systems at all land ports along the US/Mexican border.
Deployed hand in glove with the Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE for short, is the Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS), an automated system that relies on barcode labels the carrier attaches to the invoice, and the CBP form 7533 inward manifest. The barcode contains the carrier’s Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) and Pro-Bill number for the northern border or filer code and entry number for the southern border. The barcode is then faxed to Customs ahead of a conveyance’s arrval at the US border, or even upon leaving its point of origin for the border. When the shipment arrives at the border, the CBP Officer processes the shipment in ACE, which automatically retrieves the entry information. As long as no examinations are required, the truck is then released from the primary booth, which significantly reduces the wait time and eases congestion at the US border.
Per the Trade Act of 2002, PAPS has become mandatory procedure for truck carriers at land border ports of entry, and carriers must be approved by CPS for this expedited process. Carriers are still required to supply all necessary documentation and forms, but this mechanism allows the compliance process to begin before arrival at the border, thus allowing for reduced paperwork processing at the point of border crossing. Not all shipments are eligible for expedited feature. Specifically shipments subject to other government agencies like the FDA, Transportation bonds (IT and T&E), Section 32l releases, Instruments of International Traffic (IIT’s), and shipments participating in Line Release are not eligible for the Pre-Arrival Processing System.
Carriers wishing to take advantage of the the Automated Commercial Environment and the Pre-Arrival Processing System must create a barcode, themselves, or use a commercial printer. The number should consist of a continuous sequence of the SCAC, entry number, and check digit with no spaces or dashes. A sample of this barcode must be tested at the ports of entry where shipments will be processed. The Customs broker should be notified of the intent to utilize PAPS and their broker/filer code acquired. Lastly, determine the proper procedures for the future transmission of required entry information, including invoice, SCAC, pro bill number, and an agreement on the advanced notice needed for the submission of ABI entry information.