The Advance Commercial Information (ACI) release process provides Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers with electronic cargo information in advance of arrival so that they are equipped with appropriate information to identify health, safety and security threats related to the importation of commercial goods.

The ACI clearance process will be similar to the U.S. Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) in that it will allow customs officers to screen shipments prior to departure, increase security at the border, and focus on high-risk shipments. Harmonization with the ACE clearance process is one of the key objectives of ACI / eManifest.

ACI cargo and conveyance screening has been in effect since April of 2004 for marine shipments and June of 2006 for air shipments.

When ACI is fully implemented, electronic information provided to Customs must contain the complete 10-digit H.S. (Harmonized System) classification number for all invoice lines. In addition, all cargo, admissibility, release and invoice information will have to be transmitted to Customs electronically, in advance of arrival, for all shipments. This process along with Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) will replace all clearance methods currently in use, including Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS).

The final and most challenging phase of ACI is eManifest for highway shipments. This aspect of ACI is currently under development, and Omnitrans is actively engaged in discussions with CBSA officials and the importing community including the CSCB (Canadian Society of Customs Brokers) and IE Canada (Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters), in providing suggestions on how to ensure the process will function effectively. The final ACI process is expected to be similar to the following:

  • Carrier transmits electronic cargo, driver & conveyance data within the specified timeframes
  • Freight forwarder transmits house bill data (for consolidated cargo)
  • Data is acknowledged by CBSA
  • Importer/broker transmits import data, including all 10-digit HS codes
  • CBSA conducts risk assessment and makes examination decisions
  • Release to occur at first point of arrival

Importers will not be affected if they have arranged to provide Omnitrans with documentation or shipment data in advance of arrival. Lack of cargo and invoice information in advance will result in clearance delays. In addition, there may also be additional processing costs if information is not received electronically.

In order to streamline clearance procedures, importers should consider the following measures:

  • Ask suppliers and carriers to use EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and provide shipment information in advance.
  • Ask your EDI consultants (internal or external) to assist in the necessary linkages with suppliers, carriers and Omnitrans.
  • Provide Omnitrans with an electronic “parts file” of imported goods.
  • Advise Omnitrans when importing new or improved goods.
  • Ask Omnitrans to supply you with the H.S. classification and/or a Customs ruling on new products.
  • Provide Omnitrans with customs invoice information electronically. The preferred format is ANSI X12 / 810 MESSAGE or CSV.
  • Send Omnitrans cargo information electronically. The preferred format is ANSI X12 / 856 MESSAGE.

For additional information on how you can prepare for ACI/eManifest, please contact your Client Representative.