Truck News


Customs to Begin Electronic Truck Manifest Testing Nov. 29

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Soon Canadian transborder carriers won't just be worrying about whether their shippers have managed to supply U.S. Customs with adequate and timely electronic prenotification on shipments.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Soon Canadian transborder carriers won’t just be worrying about whether their shippers have managed to supply U.S. Customs with adequate and timely electronic prenotification on shipments.

They’ll also have to worry about providing adequate and timely electronic information about their own truck manifests.

U.S. Customs recently announced testing is to begin on electronic transmission of truck manifests Nov. 29, just weeks after electronic prenotification for transborder shipments becomes mandatory at many border crossings.

Participating trucking companies will transmit their manifests to U.S. Customs via the Automated Commercial System, (ACE).

Testing will start with select Canadian and U.S. carriers at the Blaine, Wash., and Buffalo, NY, crossings. Subsequent testing will be conducted at Champlain, Detroit, Port Huron and southern U.S./Mexico ports on dates to be announced.

As far as time frames go, reporting of truck manifests will mirror that of shipment prenotification – one hour for non-FAST carriers and a half-hour for FAST carriers. (For LTL carriers that means all items must be reported at least one hour ahead of time if just one of them isn’t FAST approved. Items covered by the Bioterrorism Act – FDA items – will still have to be reported within the prescribed FDA imposed time frames.)

Information items to be reported on the manifest can number up to 70, depending on the kind of goods the carrier is hauling. (Visit and click on the Border Legislation icon for details.)

At the very minimum, truck manifests must include the carrier identification number (assigned by CBP), the trip number, the transportation reference number for each shipment, the container numbers (and seal numbers for items coming in at the southern border), the place where the truck took possession of the shipment, its destination, the numbers and quantity of cargo on board (e.g. 200 cartons on 10 pallets), the weight of the cargo, a detailed cargo description, etc.

For hazmat carriers there are a whole slew of other information items that must be provided.

And for In-Bond shipments there are still more.

Also required is information regarding the equipment being used to transport the cargo, the identity of any and all passengers etc…

All of which leaves carriers wondering just how they’re going to manage the correct and timely transmission of all this information, on top of everything else they’re having to manage of late.

Bison compliance supervisor Lisa Jennings is just glad electronic prenotification of truck manifests isn’t mandatory yet.

“We’ve known this was coming for some time, but we’re still trying to determine who will be responsible for transmitting the information,” said Jennings in late September.

Getting the dispatchers to file is just one option, Jennings said. But the company may find it has to hire someone instead.

Either way, it’s not going to be easy, she said.

“There are so many things that can change at the last minute, including the load, the equipment we’re using, or the driver,” she explained.

“If that’s the case, apparently there’s some way to change the information en route, but we’re still finding out about how the system will work. In any case, it’s not going to be easy.”

Easy or not, prenotification requirements are here to stay, said Eric Couture, U.S. Customs attache at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.

Couture has little sympathy for those who rile against the new prenotification rules.

“We’ve spoiled ourselves with this almost invisible border,” Couture said.

“And now for security reasons we need to invest our resources in being smarter about how we take goods across the border. In order to do so efficiently and with a minimum of waits we have to require advance notification on shipments and manifests. This will actually make things faster.”

Customs officers will be able to target shipments and manifests for inspection, and process others more quickly, as a result of having the information early, Couture explained.

Truck drivers should not be the ones who are worrying about this, he added.

“This is something dispatchers and management should be worrying about.”

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