CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is the modernized U.S. trade processing system designed to consolidate and automate border processing to significantly enhance border security and foster U.S. economic security through lawful international trade and travel.

For importers, the benefits of ACE include the ability to:

• make monthly payment for shipments

• manage the working capital required for duty payments with flexibility

• see significant cash flow advantages

• provide insight into company’s important trade data

• view the statement as it is being built

• review CBP entry summary data in near real time

• be informed of limitations and inconsistencies with CBP data

• access more than 80 reports reflecting company’s compliance, transactional and financial data

• manage company’s account with CBP

Not only have importers benefited from the improvements in automation, but so has CBP. As a result of ACE, CBP’s ability to review an importer’s entries has greatly increased. Thus when CBP has reason to review an importer’s entries (typically done by an import specialist), the review is easily performed within ACE. Such reviews can arise in various contexts. For example, an import specialist may review the import documentation or the goods may be inspected and an issue may be flagged. Using the computerized information, CBP can readily determine whether it is an isolated incident or a recurring practice.

This availability of data also has an impact on voluntary disclosures. For example, a voluntary disclosure made by an importer on a product imported under a Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) number will likely be reviewed by CBP by examining the importer’s prior classifications under that HTSUS number. Further, if some of the entries under that HTSUS number are not in the importer’s disclosure it is not unusual that CBP will ask the importer to explain why these entries have been omitted.

Importers have access to similar data through ACE. Accordingly, before making a voluntary disclosure or otherwise raising an issue, importers should consider obtaining their data from CBP or through ACE in order to ensure that the disclosure is complete. Therefore, when CBP reviews the disclosure, excluded entries can be readily explained.

Importers should also consider using ACE and other electronic data sources now available in their compliance programs. Data in electronic form is now readily available from CBP for periodic internal audits. For example, data in electronic form can be used to identify anomalies in classifications and other import functions. However, companies electing to obtain access to ACE should adopt internal controls over the access to and handling of the data and should consider specific procedures for the inputting of new information or communications with CBP via ACE.