Section 321 Release

Section 321 refers to entry for release of goods valued at $800 or less, as long as the shipment is not one of several lots in a single contract or a single order. Additionally, the goods need to be imported by an individual and the importer will need to provide data elements that include the value of the goods and country of origin. All section 321 shipments have to be declared to customs though no customs brokers will be required and hence there will be no need for entry numbers.


Intangibles are often referred to as General Head Note 1, they are an informal US Shipment Type that allows for free entry of goods that include:

  • Coffins, corpses, and accompanying flowers
  • Diagrams, records and other data related to any business, exploration or engineering operation whether it be on tapes, paper, blueprints, cards, blueprints or photographs.
  • Aircraft equipment or parts removed from an American registered aircraft.
  • Articles coming back from space

Highway carriers need to report these types of commodities as Intangibles on the ACE Highway eManifest when transporting them into the US if they have not been declared in the formal PAPS entry.

While they are different from the regular PAPS shipment, the carrier will be required to provide the information required of an ACE Shipment such as Commodity information, unique Shipment Control Number, Consignee, and Shipper.

Similar to other informal entries, there is no need for an Entry Number and no customs brokers will be involved in the processing. However, the driver may be required to present documentation to Customs at the border when required.

In Transit

The In-Transit Manifest regulates the movement of goods from one point to another between the United States and Canada that may either transit through Canada or the US.

Transit via Canada

The driver will present four of the in-transit forms that are:

  1. The arrival copy in white
  2. The exit copy in blue
  3. The reentry copy in green
  4. The carrier copy in pink

Customs inspects, reviews and validates the copies which are then stamped and initialled. The inspector may also cross-check the forms against the bill of lading to ensure everything in the shipment has been recorded.

The driver proceeds with the pink, green and blue copies while the original white remains with customs.

Goods are sealed until reentry when the United States Customs and Border Protection officers remove the seals.

The carrier reports to the CBP upon re-entry into the United States, where the three copies are stamped and the driver proceeds with the pink copy.

In Transit via the United States

To transit via the US, the highway carrier will need to be a bonded carrier who will also have to file a Transportation and Exportation bond. The carrier can either file the bond directly as an ACE In-Bond through ACE or file a QP In Bond.

Once the bond is accepted and presented to customs officials at the US port of entry and authorized for entry, the driver will proceed and have their Transport and Exportation Bond stamped as exported when they arrive at the port of exit.

Goods Astray

Goods Astray is an informal CBP Shipment type that allows for the release of goods that:

  • Had been exported from the US and
  • Are being returned to the US within 45 days after being declared undeliverable and
  • Have never left the custody of foreign customs service or the carrier

The person requesting clearance under Goods Astray Shipment type needs to show evidence that the merchandise qualifies under the conditions above.

Highway carriers with such shipments need to declare the merchandise as Goods Astray under shipment type on the ACE Manifest. The documentation required includes a unique Shipment Control Number, Commodity Description, Consignee, and Shipper information.

Since it is an informal entry the carrier will not need an Entry number or the involvement of a Customs Broker. Still, the driver may be asked to present documentation for the exported shipment and any other evidence to prove the shipment was undeliverable.

FAST Shipment

FAST shipments without PAPS entries is a shipment type for goods released by the CBP. It is made to expedite the release for highly compliant and high volume cargo shipments prior to the filing of a formal entry through a customs broker.

Carriers qualify for the release once they obtain a code from the importer in barcode format. They also need to have a FAST-approved driver which will allow the carrier to use the FAST lane at the border.

Under the program, the shipment needs to be declared on the ACE Truck eManifest and the shipment type has to be transmitted as part of the ACE eManifest. While it is different from the PAPS shipment, the carrier still has to provide information such as Commodity info, unique Shipment Control Number, Consignee and Shipper among other information.

Given that this is a formal entry, the carrier needs to transmit the documentation to the customs broker or self-filing importer so that they have information on file when the shipment is crossing the border. However, the broker does not have to file the entry prior to the carrier crossing the border.

PAPS Pre-Arrival Processing System

PAPS is the default shipment type for all merchantable goods coming into the US by truck. All commercial shipments into the US transported by highway carriers need PAPS clearance unless they have an exemption or qualify for another shipment type.

PAPS was made to ease the release of commercial shipments while allowing the shipment to undergo the rigorous risk assessment of the CBP. Carriers will typically assign each shipment that needs pre-arrival clearance with a PAPS number. They will then inform the broker of the number in use with a given shipment by emailing or faxing the relevant documents to them.

Once the broker has the requisite documentation, they will request for clearance from the CBP while the carrier prepares an ACE eManifest for the shipment with the PAPS number listed. Once the CBP accepts the carrier’s eManifest and the broker’s entry, the carrier will have the authorization to move the goods across the border.

The carrier will be expected to declare their PAPS shipment on the ACE Truck eManifest and designate it as PAPS on the shipment type. The carrier’s PAPS number needs to match that provided to the Customs Broker and the carrier needs to make sure that their customs broker has cleared the PAPS before presenting themselves for clearance at the border.

Section 321 Release For release under Section 321 for Shipment with FDA-BTA considerations

Since July 2017, the FDA has allowed the following goods imported into the US using the section 321 program:

  • Cosmetics
  • Food
  • Dinnerware
  • Biological samples used for lab testing
  • Radiation emitting non-medical devices

Under the FDA Prior Notice exemptions under the Bioterrorism Act (BTA) provisions the FDA exempts the following food products:

  • Imported food that is subject to a respective USDA jurisdiction outside of the US
  • Homemade food shipped as gifts
  • Food for personal use carried by a traveller
  • Food in diplomatic bags/boxes
  • Immediately exported food

The CBP will require Prior Notice Data (PN) that includes FDA Product codes, Bill of lading, Shipper/grower, date and Country of Origin among others. The PN for BTA-FDA regulated products needs to be provided to the FDA within two hours of the shipments arriving at the border for highway shipments.

Department of Defense Shipment

A Department of Defense (DOD) Shipment usually includes goods meant for the US Department of Defense transported on commercial highway carriers. The CBP provides special clearance for such goods at the border as long as the proper paperwork and declaration of the goods are done.


International Mail

Refers to a US Shipment type for goods (usually mail) cleared by the US CBP. It allows for expedited release of international mail transported by contract highway carriers from foreign postal services to the US Postal service. Only mail shipments from foreign postal services that consist of correspondence or letter class mail qualify for this type of release.

Instruments of International Traffic (IIT)

IIT is a shipment type for cargo that includes containers, skids and other similar articles. Qualified goods for this type of shipment need to be covered under a continuous bond, be suitable for repeated use, arrive empty and are then filled with merchandise for export to foreign countries or arrive containing merchandise.

Goods declared as Instruments of International Traffic are not subject to tax or duty though they have to be declared on the ACE eManifest. The carrier will also need to set the IIT status on the trailer or truck.

The carrier will need to indicate if the goods are covered by the carrier or importer bond and ensure that the driver has the bond number. The driver may be requested to furnish customs officers at the border with additional documentation for processing of the shipment such as IIT bond numbers or bills of lading.


This is an international customs release that makes a temporary importation of cargo possible. The document can be accepted by both the CBP and the CBSA  and is thus a US and Canadian shipment type.

The Carnet is used for professional equipment, commercial samples and goods intended for use at fairs and exhibitions, as long as the goods are not consumable items like agricultural goods.

It is the responsibility of the party importing the goods to obtain the carnet. They should then inform the carrier of the shipment type and provide the carrier and driver with the Carnet document that will be required at the border.

While it differs from the PAPS Shipment, customs will still require the carrier to provide information about the shipment such as Commodity information, unique Shipment Control Number, Consignee, and Shipper among other ACE Shipment information.

CBP 7523 (Free of Duty <$2500)

Named for the CBP Form 7523, it is a shipment type for the release of cargo by CBP. The informal entry expedites clearance of goods that do not exceed $2500 in value that is conditionally or unconditionally duty-free and is not be subject to internal revenue tax or quotas. It is usually up to the customs broker or the importer to make such a determination.

The carrier will have to provide information that includes Commodity information, unique Shipment Control Number, Consignee and Shipper.

Since it is an informal entry, there is no need for an Entry Number or the involvement of a Customs Broker. The driver will have to fill and present form 7523 to the customs officer at the border for statistical purposes and to inform the CBP that a shipment requires clearance.

CBP 3311 (US Goods Returned)

3311, otherwise referred to as Returned American Products shipment, it is an informal entry for release of American goods that have been returned. It usually applies to goods that have been returned or rejected by a foreign buyer on credit. The goods must not have been exempted from internal revenue tax, duty or customs drawback at the time of export. It is up to the customs broker or importer to advise on the designation of such goods rather than the carrier.

While it differs from the regular PAPS shipment, the carrier will be required to furnish the CBP with Commodity information, unique Shipment Control Number, Consignee and Shipper among other information.

Since it is an informal entry, there will be no need for an entry number or the involvement of a customs broker. However, the driver will have to present a duly filled Custom Form 3311 at the border for statistical purposes.

CBP 3299 (Personal Effects)

3299 is a type of informal entry by the US CBP for the release of personal, non-commercial used cargo that is transmitted by a highway carrier. Only goods that do not belong to a business, goods not for sale and used goods qualify for CBP 3299. For the most part, this involves personal belongings transported by a carrier say from Canada to the United States.

Personal Effects shipments need to be declared on the ACE eManifest and filled on the ACE shipment as Shipment Type “Personal Effects-3299.” Documentation required includes commodity info, consignee, shipper and a unique shipment control number.

Since it is an informal entry it does not require an Entry Number and Customs Brokers will not be involved in the transaction. However, the driver will be required to present a duly filled Form 3299 to the customs officer at the border. Since it provides an inventory of all imported, it is a good way of keeping statistical records.

In Bond Shipment Types

This is a CBP shipment type that allows cargo to be transported inside the United States prior to customs release. The bond makes it possible to move cargo to an inland port for customs clearance or for transit through the US or for immediate export. In Bond, shipments can only be transported by bonded carriers.

  1. IT (Immediate Transportation) – Allows for the transportation of goods in bond without paying taxes, duty or the goods being examined until they arrive at their destination and entry is filed.
  2. TE (Transportation and Exportation) – A type of shipment that allows for the export and transport of merchandise to another port besides the port of origin.
  3. IE (Immediate Exportation) – Used for the export of cargo from the port of origin. A good example is moving cargo for export after being held in bond inside the United States.

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