What is ACI eManifest?

ACI eManifest is a mandatory CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) security program for trucking companies. This online eManifest portal is provided by CBSA to help importers & transportation companies in easily bringing in their cargo from outside the Canadian border. Trucking companies who bring-in their shipment either through box trucks, containers or trailers can now file their transportation documents using ACI (Advance Commercial Information).

For the whole process to be completed smoothly, details of the shipment must be inputted in the ACI system at least 1 hour before the arrival of the conveyance at the Canadian border. The documents that may need to be filed with CBSA on their ACI eManifest system include Cargo control documents and conveyance documents which detail out the information of the vehicle carrying the cargo.

How to comply with ACI eManifest?

To ensure compliance with Advance Commercial Information System or ACI, trucking companies need to file their cargo papers with both, the ACI eManifest portal and the customs broker. This is one of the essential elements in complying with Canadian border regulations. Failure to do so may result in rejection of freight at the Canadian border.

Multiple AMPS (Administrative Monetary Penalty System) penalties can be levied on trucking companies in case they fail to comply with customs regulations. These penalties may include:

Up to $8000 in case of failure to submit freight documents to the ACI eManifest system

Up to $750 for delayed submission

Up to $1500 in case the required corrections or submission of inaccurate information on the online CBSA portal.

Up to $8000 in case of failure to comply with CBSA notification.

How to Register for ACI with CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency)

To register for eManifest companies need to take the following steps:

If you don’t already have a carrier code you will need to apply for one

Complete CBSA ACI EDI application

To register for ACI eManifest for Canada, companies need to provide corporate information including:

Business type
Their corporate profile including legal status and name
Authorized agent if the business is being conducted through a broker
The service provider used if outsourcing the ACI filing function
The type of technology being used to communicate with the ACI server.
Service providers can usually assist with the above steps

Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS)

PARS allows shippers to deliver their shipments directly to the customer after passing through the Canadian border.  PARS shipments pass through the Canadian borders more quickly than it would normally take.  To avail this CBSA facility, carriers need to fax or email their cargo details to their brokers in Canada. This information may include the port of crossing, estimated date and time of arrival of the shipment, and contact information of the carrier.

The most important element for a PARS shipment is the Pre-Arrival Processing System sticker or label which contains the cargo control number which begins with the Carrier Code of the carrier. Although the ACI eManifest portal has replaced PARS to a certain extent, carriers need to ensure to continue faxing their paperwork to the customs broker.

When the shipment arrives at the customs booth, the officer on duty will confirm if all information is present on the  CBSA ACI online portal and match it with the CCN number. Once the papers have been reviewed, the shipment can be released easily.

What Data is Submitted to Comply with ACI?

Trip details

Port of arrival
Date & time of arrival
Any exemption cargo on board the truck
Truck & trailer information

License plate info
Driver information

Passport #
FAST card (Free & Secure Trade)
CDL# (Commercial Driver’s Licence)
Shipment Information

Shipper name & address
Consignee name & address
Commodity details

Release Notification System (RNS) & CBSA D4 Notices

RNS or Release Notification System allows the Canadian Border and Security Agency to communicate importer release information automatically to trade participants including carriers & warehouses automatically and in real time. Any RNS participant can query the release status of a CCN (cargo control number) or transaction number (custom’s broker entry number) in real time. Warehouses can also notify the CBSA about the arrival of in-bond cargo at their warehouse. This notification to CBSA informs that an inspection can take place at the warehouse if necessary.

This creates transparency in the shipment process by notifying trade participants about the status of each shipment.

The RNS system is linked to the eManifest system as well, which notifies about shipment clearance to all affected parties through Electronic Data Interchange System.

The CBSA system which notifies participants when the Customs Broker releases cargo for duty and tax purposes

Allows warehouses to arrive cargo into bonded warehouses notifying CBSA they can inspect the cargo if required

Allows trade participants to query the latest CBSA release status of cargo control numbers (CCN) or Customs Broker entry numbers


Facts to Remember When Crossing the Border using ACI

Need a barcoded document with either the trip number or cargo control number being barcoded (can use the PARS sticker as your barcode)

Don’t forget the trucking company needs to send the pro-bill and the commercial invoice to the customs broker. The Customs Broker needs to release the cargo for duty and tax purposes. If this step is not completed the driver will be held at the border.

Most eManifest software programs allow you to see the entry number from the Customs Broker when they complete this step.

The eManifest software provider will need to support RNS (Release Notification System) messages or the new D4 Notices to receive the entry numbers from the Customs Broker.

When the officer scans your barcode the ACI eManifest details will show on the officer’s screen. Officer then decides to release the truck or send to secondary processing or possible cargo inspection

ACI eManifest Benefits for Trucking Companies

By registering on CBSA ACI eManifest websites, trucking companies can gain access to 24/7 support for any of their cargo related queries.

The system is quite easy to use and does not require extensive training by company staff.

Status updates about any change in shipment processing can be sent directly to a drivers cell phone.

There is more work for the trucking company preparing the eManifest details but enjoy expedited clearance at the port i.e. trucks cross the border faster

Less uncertainty at the border. Carriers know before arriving their manifest is accepted by CBSA and that the Customs Broker has cleared the cargo

ACI becomes a system of record and allows border agencies to keep a track record of each shipment.

Benefits of Using a Service Provider

Integrate your trucking dispatch system for automated sending of eManifest details

Most service providers will send SMS messages for milestone events from CBSA such as trip arrival, trip released, entry on file, etc.

Upload shipment details in Excel or CSV format

Some service providers have freemium plans allowing you to test the service before paying

Allow trucking companies to fax/email their shipping documents to the service provider, and they will complete for you

24 x 7 support via phone, email, live chat  to solve all the business related queries.

Concluding Thoughts

The Canadian government has made great efforts to facilitate the companies within and outside its border to conduct trade. ACI eManifest is one of those effective utilities which makes the shipment process to Canada quick, convenient and easy. Combining ACI with advanced online utilities like PARS and RMD’s (Release on Minimum Documentation), traders can utilize multiple benefits that this country has to offer.

Trucking companies can especially utilize this service to make their cargo shipment process much quicker and easier than before.

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