Automated Manifest System (AMS) Air

The CBP legacy system was known as AMS Air.  Later CBP upgraded and moved the AMS Air system platform to the ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) platform.  After this move, CBP refers to the AMS Air system as ACE Air or ACE Air eManifest.

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Automated Commercial Environment (ACE Air eManifest)

ACE Air eManifest system is a cargo manifest release and cargo notification system for air carriers, freight forwarders, importers and warehouse operators. ACE Air eases the entry, processing, and flow of cargo and provides participants with electronic authorization to move cargo before it arrives at the port of entry.

ACE Air eManifest is faster, more reliable and efficient as it does not rely on paper documentation but on the electronic exchange of waybill and airline routing data. This means that the importing community gets better service from CBP, participants take advantage of faster tracking and cargo moves faster through the airport of entry in the US.

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Functions and Responsibilities of ACE Air Participants

The participants involved in the movement of an air shipment have different responsibilities and functions that they have to perform in the processing of the shipment. These functions and responsibilities are defined in the Trade Act of 2002 CBP regulations 19 CFR 122.48a.

All participants in the ACE Air eManifest program must complete the CBP LOI (Letter of Intent)

Air Carrier

According to CBP regulations, incoming air carriers need to provide cargo information to the CBP in electronic format 4 hours before the flight arrives in the United States. The air carrier registers an EDI profile with CBP after completion of the CBP LOI.  Included in the CBP LOI, is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) code that is a Three Letter Airline designator code. The CBP air carrier account may also be recognized by its 2 character airline designator issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) or the 3-numeric cargo prefix code by the air waybill issuer.  The airline must also provide its Type-3 International Carrier Bond.  Airlines provide AWB (Air waybill) data which will clear at the ECCF (Express Consignment Clearance Facility) or non-ECCF. Cargo clearing at the ECCF is subject to the merchandise processing fee (MPF)

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Simple, Master and House Airway Bills (HAWB)

A simple airway bill is an ACE Air transaction submitted by the airline.  Simple in this context means there will be no freight forwarder or consolidation shipment information submitted against the AWB (air waybill)

A master airway bill is an ACE Air transaction submitted by the airline but in this case, the airline is indicating that the freight forwarder or consolidated house information will also be submitted to CBP directly from a 3rd party (freight forwarder, CFS, customs broker) referencing the master airwaybill of the airline.

House air waybills are consolidation level data submitted by the importer, freight forwarder, CFS (warehouse)  or customs broker.  This is the lower house airway bill data which includes the ultimate shipper & consignee.

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Flight Departure Message (FDM)

Airlines have to submit a flight departure message once the aircraft leaves the last foreign airport before the arrival in the US.  This gives CBP personnel an alert to complete the security assessment of the information submitted by the airline and house level cargo details and to prepare for the arrival of the aircraft.

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Split Shipments

Split shipments are a common occurrence in the airline industry.  This is due to space and weight restrictions on the aircraft.  If a shipment is split, and part of the shipment moves onto another aircraft then that information needs to be updated in ACE Air by sending the boarded quantity and weight along with the part-arrival reference number (PARN) for that shipment.  A PARN is usually indicated as A, B, C, etc.

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Permit to Proceed (PTP)

Permit to proceed (PTP) or permit to transfer PTT) as it is also known by allows the CFS (Container Freight Station) or warehouse to request movement of the cargo from the airline primary warehouse to a secondary warehouse under the CFS bond.  This is necessary and more efficient due to time restrictions at the primary warehouse and to allow CBP to possibly inspect some of the cargo.  A common inspection reason for the cargo is usually due to IP (intellectual property) infractions.

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In-Bond Shipments & Local & International Transfers

In-bond shipments must include company information such as the EIN (Employer Identification Number).  In-bond numbers which record the company requesting the in-bond movement is authorized to do so since the movement of in-bond cargo allows for the domestic movement of the freight before duty and tax are paid by the importer to CBP.

After shipments arrive in the US the first airport of arrival might not be the final destination.  Sending details about domestic or international transfers is necessary. For example, a flight arriving at JFK but then the cargo moving on a different aircraft to Miami (MIA)

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Freight Forwarder / Customs Broker

The data requirement submitted by the freight forwarder or customs broker is similar to the airline except the freight forwarder will also include the HAWB (House air waybill) number.

The freight forwarder or customs broker must include their importer bond number in the CBP LOI as they will be acting as the importer for the consolidated air freight.

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De-consolidator/CFS (Container Freight Station) Warehouse

This is a CBP bonded cargo facility that provides Automated Manifest System (AMS Air) on behalf of freight forwarders/importers or customs brokers. The Container Freight Station is identified by the CBP FIRMS code. The CFS or de-consolidator operator that takes custody of shipments and deciding to participate in ACE Air needs to ensure that it tracks and controls the status of such cargo through the Freight Status Notification (FSN) message function.

CFS operators need to have a Type-2 Custodial Bond to participate in the ACE Air program and this bond number must be included in the CBP LOI application.

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ACE Air Section 321

ACE Air Section 321 is an informal entry that allows goods valued at $800 or less to pass through customs duty & tax-free. To be eligible for Section 321 the shipment should not be several individual shipments covered by a single contract or order. A common scenario would be multiple shipments having the same shipper but each shipment has a unique consignee.  The value of $800 cannot be exceeded by a consignee on a single day.  However, a consignee may import $800 every day and not be subject to duty & tax.

Section 321 clearance is an attractive alternative to clearing shipments at the ECCF and saving the MPF (Merchandise Processing Fee)

You need to seek approval from CBP to clear section 321 shipments at each airport of arrival.  Also, remember that clearance of section 321 shipments are not fully automated and CBP at the airport will notify you directly if your cargo is cleared and only then arrange for the last mile delivery to the customer or USPS (United States Postal Service)

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Direct Injection Shipments

Direct Injection Shipments is a term for when the shipper in the foreign country applies domestic shipping labels (USPS, FedEx, UPS) to the packages.  After the packages travel to the US and customs clear at the airport the last mile delivery company will drop off all of the packages at the domestic shipping depot (USPS, FedEx, UPS)

Freight Status Information (FSI) Messages & Freight Status Notifications (FSN)

The FSN or FSI messages are notifications generated by the ACE Air system.

FSN messages are routed to the custodian of the cargo (airline or CFS).

FSI messages are similar in content but are routed to participants not in possession of the freight such as customs brokers or freight forwarder acting as an agent of the cargo providing advance consolidated house bill information.