The Advance Commercial Information (ACI) eManifest program is the equivalent of the US Customs Automated Commercial Environment, ACE (also known as the ACE eManifest). Since the implementation of the CBSA ACI eManifest program in 2015, it is mandatory for all carriers to electronically submit conveyance and cargo data to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) prior to loading or arrival at the port of entry.
ACI Filing Time Frames and Requirements:
These will typically depend on the mode of transport that a carrier or operator is using.
- Air Carriers – The CBSA expects to electronically receive and validate conveyance and cargo data at least four (4) hours before the arrival of the aircraft into Canada or when the flight departs for Canada (if the flight duration is less than four (4) hours.
- Highway Carriers – The CBSA expects to receive electronic conveyance and cargo data at least one (1) hour before the arrival of the truck at the Canadian border.
- Marine Carriers – The CBSA is to receive electronic conveyance and cargo data within 24-96 hours prior to loading or arrival of the goods in Canadian ports of entry. The variable time period for submission is determined by the duration of the vessel journey.
- Rail Carriers – The CBSA expects electronic conveyance and cargo data be submitted at least two (2) hours before the conveyance or cargo arrives at the border.
- Freight Forwarders – The CBSA is to receive advance house bill data within an hour (for highway carriers), 2 hours (for rail carriers), 4 hours (for air carriers), and 24 hours (for Marine carriers).
- Warehouse Operators – The CBSA mandates all sufferance warehouse owners/operators who receive unreleased goods to electronically transmit the Warehouse Arrival Certification Message (WACM) to CBSA. To operate a warehouse one needs to be using an Electronic Data Interchange and be registered in the Release Notification System (RNS).
ACI eManifest Filing in Canada
The CBSA provides carriers with several ways of electronically transmitting their conveyance and cargo data. Data can be submitted through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), eManifest Fax/Email filing service, or the eManifest Portal.
Prior to choosing a provider, it is critical for carriers to take into account aspects of their operations such as shipment volume, budget, IT capabilities, and their legacy dispatch systems. A good provider is one that is suitable for your needs and has systems compatible with yours.
The CBSA maintains a list of approved eManifest solutions providers, where carriers can find a solution that integrates with their dispatch system or customized solutions fitting carriers specific workflows. The best thing about the CBSA approved providers is that they allow carriers and operators to streamline operations and develop more efficient supply chain solutions using the latest technologies. These solutions free up resources and time for operators and carriers, who can then focus on their core competencies and grow their business.
All CBSA approved providers undergo rigorous testing of their ACI Highway service or eManifest software, conducted by the CBSA. Some solutions providers will also offer interface connectivity through an API that links up with CBSA.
How to Choose the Right ACI/ACE Approved Provider
- The CBSA maintains a list of approved service/software providers from where you can select a few for further research.
- Research the solutions provider to find out everything you need to know including the services offered, features of their service and other critical aspects of their solutions.
- Pricing – There are a variety of pricing options offered by the different solutions providers. It is always recommended to go with a flexible option that is the best fit for your needs. If you are just starting out, an affordable simple solution that comes with no contracts or commitments is preferable. The best providers typically provide predictable subscription plans.
- Quality of service – It is not enough that a company is CBSA approved, it needs to be a trusted provider of eManifest solutions within the industry. The best way to determine the quality of service is by doing your research online and reading reviews about the quality of service that other operators and carriers have received from the provider.
- Technical Capacity – The best CBSA Approved providers have the basic software and components required by the CBSA and modern tools and systems in place to make it easy and convenient to electronically transmit your eManifest data. Some of the tools and services you should be looking for include SMS and email alerts, access to past and present data for compliance auditing, integration with your ERP or dispatch system, developer API and PARS tracking.
- Reputation or track record – Go with a provider that is financially sound and has a reputation for taking good care of its customers. You can always ask around particularly from other trucking companies, who will be more than willing to recommend the best providers.
- Industry experience – While a new company could provide excellent service, you are better off with an experienced company. Experienced companies have a better understanding of the rules, regulations and nuances in the industry that a small service provider might not have. Moreover, you can expect top quality eManifest solutions from veteran companies, which have had the time to perfect their offering.
- Great Customer Service – A great service provider provides effective, personalized and fast customer service from experienced professionals. The company needs to provide 24/7 professional support in a range of formats from email, phone, and live chat among others.
- Adaptability and Agility – Things are always changing with CBSA and the carrier business is full of market disruptions. A good provider is dynamic and agile and will tweak their systems to allow you to continue to operate without any major disruptions. The best companies will not only adapt but will get ahead of market changes to help you gain a competitive advantage.
- Once you have gathered all the information on a few providers, you can go ahead to sign up online with the provider who meets your needs.