Section 321 is a shipment type used in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ACE system that allows low-value shipments of <=$800 USD to be cleared through the border without paying duty or tax.

To qualify for Section 321 shipment type any goods being imported into the US should not exceed a value of 800 US dollars. Such goods should also not be one of several lots under a single contract or order that would have a value greater than $800. The CBP will also not release any shipment classified as Section 321 if they are classified as high risk or require release under PGA’s (Participating Government Agencies).  There are some exemptions for PGA shipments which include;

  • Cosmetics and dinnerware
  • Radiation-emitting devices that are non-medical in nature are also exempted.
  • Biological samples meant for laboratory testing
  • Except for food such as pufferfish and raw oysters, as well as food at room temperature which are packed in tight containers, the rest of the food items are exempted.

Since January 2019, all highway carriers need to submit ACE eManifests for section 321 shipments.

Uploading Section 321 Shipment

As a trucking company with international shipments into the United States, clients have the option to upload the Section 321 ACE Truck eManifest data to Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). There are several ways to do this given that many services providers have provided software that has made the whole process automated. However, you will still need to create the data in the file in either a CSV file, JSON, or XML format.

Most third-party solution providers such as Customs City Global Solutions will provide automated solutions for Section 321 shipments for the trucking companies that deal with high volume shipments. Most of the time, all the carrier has to do is upload the JSON, CSV or XML files with the Section 321 data into the Customs City portal. The portal will then populate the eManifest and submit the shipments data to CBP.

Field Specifications

Regardless of the type of format that will be used, there are fields that need to be filled before the Section 321 shipment data is uploaded and submitted. The field specifications data include:

  1. SCN (Shipment Control Number) – This is a unique identifier that the carrier assigns to the shipment.
  2. Shipment Type – The type of clearance assigned for the shipment – typically entered as SECTION_321
  3. Province Of Loading – The Mexican State or Canadian Province from which the shipment was loaded
  4. Shipper – Details of the shipper including the name, address city, state, and postal code/zip code, etc.
  5. Consignee – The name, address, city, state, and zip code of the consignee.
  6. Commodity – Includes a description of the goods, value, quantity, quantity unit of measure, weight, weight unit of measure, and country of origin.

How to Upload in CSV

CSV or Excel files are one of the best ways of uploading Section 321 shipments for truckers with high volume of shipments. Customs City software solution comes with a CSV upload feature that is made for users that want to avoid the hassle of entering data separately for every shipment. It is also very convenient for users with a single trip but a huge volume of shipments on the trip.

CSV File Format

While you can populate your shipment data in excel, most solutions will only accept the .csv file to be uploaded. Third-party software solutions provide a .csv template that you can always download to use in submitting your shipments. It is important not to modify the format or headers of the template since any modification may make it impossible to upload the file, which may become unrecognizable by the software.

Once the file has been populated with shipment data it needs to be saved in CSV even if you filled it out with excel or any other spreadsheet program.


Importing Shipments

Once you have populated the CSV file with the required data, you can then import the data. Importing usually includes either editing an already existing ACE Manifest or starting a new one from a template. Once you have finished editing or filling in the new file click on Choose File to navigate to the file on your local machine. You can then select the saved .csv file and then click to save which will bring you to the ACE Manifest page. The page will display a notice indicating if any errors were found or if not, it will indicate that the upload was successful.

How to Upload Using JSON

Third-Party software providers such as Customs City offer a convenient and easy solution for uploading your Section 321 shipment data using JSON. They provide an eManifest Developer API that makes it possible to connect your business software with Customs City ACE and ACI eManifest.

This makes it possible to send eManifest related data for your trucking company’s Section 321 shipments to the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Through the Customs City API, a lot of the redundancy and complex business logic in customs message maps is eliminated.

Section 321 Shipment data is encoded in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) a text-based and simple format of data presentation that works with almost all programming languages. It is easy to parse, understand, write and read format that can be used to manually upload shipment data through the Customs City web interface or using the Secure Websocket Protocol, an automatic server to server exchange of data.


Connecting with Customs City API

Customs City provides trucking companies with a unique URL that identifies the carrier or service provider. This makes it possible to establish just one connection and then send all shipment data from it. Once connectivity is established by the carrier, they can and send and receive messages to the CBP through the solution.

ACE eManifest JSON Message Map

The ACE eManifest is needed to identify the truck, the driver, cross border carrier, trailer and Section 321 shipment data such as consignee and shipper. Third-party software providers APIs typically provide support for completing the ACE eManifest.


ACE Send Request Message Map

Using JSON you can send an ACE Send Request that makes it possible to use previously uploaded Section 321 shipment data for transmission to the CBP. Clients can automatically transmit data at any time to comply with ACE eManifest program.

ACE Response Message Map

Once the shipment data has been uploaded through the API, it will automatically be transmitted to Customs and Border Protection agency which will also return a response through the API. The response could be a direct one such as a rejection or acceptance of the transmission or an update on the status of the eManifest.


How to Upload using XML

Clients can also upload using XML and third party import management solutions that provide comprehensive support for customs clearance.

The process for uploading an XML file usually involves:

  1. Running business rules to determine relevant data to include in the XML file
  2. Checking each line in the shipment to determine compliance
  3. Validating that all data required is present
  4. Converting and normalizing data across units of measure, currencies, etc.

Once the XML file has the relevant and cleansed data required for the Section 321 shipment, it may be uploaded through the API for sending to CBP.

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