U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials announced on Aug. 31 that the agency is extending the deadline for mandatory use of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) for all electronic entry and entry-summary filing. The deadline has been changed from Nov. 1, 2015, to Feb. 28, 2016. The decision comes in response to "concerns about stakeholders' readiness" to meet the original deadline. The change also applies to the Single Window program, which will integrate import-related data from other U.S. government agencies into ACE, CBP's long-awaited information-management and data-processing system.
The delay was something of a surprise. Software vendors and customs brokers have contended that the original deadline and the slow release of technical specifications did not allow enough time for them to conduct the extensive programming, integration, testing, and revisions that would be necessary for full compliance. But in a March 31 presentation at the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT) 19th Annual Northeast Trade and Transportation Conference, Todd Owen, CBP's assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, said that the ACE deadlines "are not going to slip."
But that assertion proved unrealistic, and Nov. 1 will begin what the agency calls a transition period for electronic entry and entry summary filings in ACE. This will allow the trade community and participating government agencies more time to test and transition to the new system.
As of Feb. 28, 2016, importers and customs brokers must use ACE to file all electronic entries and associated entry summaries, and the legacy Automated Commercial System (ACS) will no longer be available. Electronic data filings for the Food and Drug Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS (Lacey Act), must be filed in ACE.
In July 2016 (date to be determined), importers and customs brokers must file data through ACE for the following agencies: Agricultural Marketing Service, APHIS (core), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Defense Contract Management Agency, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Drug Enforcement Agency Enforcement and Compliance, Environmental Protection Agency, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Fish and Wildlife Service (contingent on certain regulatory revisions being in place), National Marine Fisheries Service, and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
CBP also said it does not expect the extended deadlines will affect the planned December 2016 full implementation of the Single Window.