Customs Clearance for Land Border Truck Shipments
This is a simple explanation of how a shipment clears the border. There are two requirements needed for a truck shipment to clear at a US border. The Customs Broker must transmit an entry and the trucking company must electronically transmit a manifest. These are both transmitted to CBP (Customs and Border Protection) through a program called ACE (Automated Commercial Environment).
CUSTOMS INVOICE (proforma)
This is your declaration to CBP. It can be on a commercial invoice or a proforma invoice and must include the full name and address of the shipper, consignee and buyer, a full description of the goods, quantities, values, weight and tariff code for each good.
The information reported on the manifest is broken down into a trip and a shipment or multiple shipments on a truck. The trip data of a manifest reports a trip number, driver information, conveyance information, port of crossing, and the estimated time of arrival at the border and trailer number, if applicable. The shipment portion reports a shipment control number, shipper, consignee, general description of goods, piece count (smallest visible quantity), and the weight. The carrier or the ACE manifest service provider (when applicable) transmits the ACE manifest to CBP.
The information that is reported on an entry is much more detailed than the shipment reporting on the ACE manifest and can vary depending on the commodities being shipped. The information reported on an entry is the shipper, buyer, consignee, the buyer and consignee’s federal tax ID number (for a company) or a social security number (for an individual), country of origin of the commodities, general description of the commodities, harmonized tariff number, reporting quantity, piece count, weight and value. Again, depending on the commodity and if other government agency reporting is required, there can be significant additional reporting requirements. Just like the carrier, the broker also transmits the shipment control number and the port of crossing to CBP.
The key for a successful border clearance is that the information reported by both the trucking company and the broker is correct, accurate and consistent. When a driver arrives at a US border and presents a copy of the ACE manifest to CBP, the CBP Officer should be able to see through the ACE program that an entry is on file for every shipment on his truck. The manifest and Customs entry link together in the ACE program via the shipment control number and the port of crossing. If, for any reason the shipment control number or the port of crossing is not identical on the ACE manifest and the electronic entry, it will cause the shipment to be delayed at the border until the information is corrected. Please remember that at any time and for any reason, CBP has the right to inspect any shipment presented for entry into the United States.