Carriers, meet your new friend ACE

by Margaret Irwin

Like the Canadian Trucking Alliance here in Canada, the American Trucking Associations is doing it’s darndest to get carriers on board with the U.S government’s ACE program, which includes the requirement to transmit truck manifests electronically via computer.

Truck News is pleased to publish the following op ed piece, by Margaret Irwin, director – customs, immigration and cross border operations for the American Trucking Associations explaining why it’s a good idea…


Motor carriers need to start signing up to use the Automated Commercial Environment now. The U.S. government has built a multi-billion dollar electronic manifest system for cross-border motor carriers that would relieve the chaos created by the interim Trade Act compliance requirements, and few carriers are using it.

The ACE truck manifest can now be used in all Washington State ports, and will soon be available at five ports in Arizona.

But since its activation in January, only five carriers have signed up to use ACE, and a few more have committed to use it in the near future.

The Trade Act requires that motor carriers send CBP information about freight before reaching the border.

This has forced carriers to use mostly the Pre-Arrival Processing System – which means that carriers must produce bar-coded labels, the driver must affix the labels to the paperwork and fax it to a U.S. customs broker, and then the broker must do an “entry” in the Automated Broker Interface system.

This turned out to be confusing and frustrating for both carriers and brokers. With no control over when the entry is done, drivers are clueless as to whether the prenotification requirements were met.

One thing can solve the problem and return control over freight movement to motor carriers: the ACE electronic truck manifest.

Using the ACE e-manifest, carriers can easily prenotify CBP about freight, driver and equipment coming to the borders – by using an EDI connection, a simple Internet connection, or both.

The problem is that almost no one is using ACE, and CBP is asking “why?”

The e-manifest is an ideal solution for carriers to track and meet Trade Act requirements.

But many carriers believe that ACE is coming somewhere down the road. Some believe it will never be rolled out. Some think it will be too expensive or too difficult to use. And some just don’t want to use it until it’s mandatory.

The real story is that after years of planning and working, ACE is successfully rolling out now, and should be at all land border ports of entry within the next year.

At some point in time, CBP will make its use mandatory.

Carriers must take a serious look at ACE now, not down the road when it becomes mandatory. Those carriers now using the e-manifest attest to its convenience, usability, and efficiency. Some carriers see a cost savings with ACE, using less people and handling less paper.

I urge carriers to start using ACE today, not in the distant future. ACE is here, it’s today.

For more information about ACE, go to and browse the material there, including explanations for Internet portal users and system requirements for carriers that wish to connect directly or using a value-added net work. The 860; 3362;first step is to fill out the ACE account application.

– Margaret Irwin is director of customs, immigration and cross border operations for the ATA.

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