E-manifest program expands to southern border

Automated Commercial Environment program

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials recently announced that an electronic manifest for a truck was filed with the agency for the first time in the southern border two weeks ago.

More than 1,000 e-manifests have been filed to date but mostly in the northern border. The first e-manifest filed in Nogales, Ariz., represents a significant milestone, an agency official said.

“With [Automated Commercial Environment] e-manifest submissions now bridging North and South, we are on target to eventually mandate use of the e-manifest feature,” Louis Samenfink, executive director of the agency’s modernization office, said in a press release. “The faster carriers adopt e-manifests, the faster the border crossing process speeds up for everyone.”

The e-manifest program is part of the multiyear ACE modernization program designed to improve security and expedite trade at the borders through better information sharing and data collection, and automated applications and services.

Trucking companies can submit e-manifests about cargo information to the agency through a secure data portal or approved electronic data interchange (EDI) procedures before their trucks arrive at the U.S. border. In addition to details about the shipment, the e-manifest includes information on drivers and passengers and descriptions of the vehicles and other equipment such as trailers.

According to the press release, the portal resembles a Web site representing a single, integrated online access point that links the agency and the trade community. Data can be stored and reused, saving time. About 40 companies are certified to submit information through EDI, while several companies are using the portal.

When a truck nears a booth at a border crossing, transponder technology signals the truck’s arrival and e-manifest information is automatically retrieved along with other documentation, according to the press release. Trucking companies can also establish ACE accounts to track trips and generate a variety of reports.

The e-manifest capability is available at the 31 ACE ports in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington state. Selected ports in Texas will be added in early 2006.

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