U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is preparing to begin testing the first of three enhancements to its online truck manifest portal in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).
Phase one, expected to start in December, includes several new features for the cross-border trucking industry.
"It's going to be particularly valuable to smaller carriers because the larger carriers generally transmit through EDI," said Steve McQueary, customs compliance manager with Mount Vernon, Washington-based temperature-controlled trucking company Brown Line, a subsidiary of Lynden Inc.
"The smaller carriers don't have large office staffs, and these new functions will expedite the manifest processing time for these operators," he added.
A new templates feature in the truck manifest portal will allow users to reuse certain information for commodities, manifests and bills of lading.
New bill-of-lading types will be added to the portal, including the 10.41a Instruments of International Trade, carnet, international mail, foreign trade zones and Defense Department shipments, during phase one.
CBP will also include a function indicating whether an entry is on file for each bill of lading. "Small truckers tend to use customs broker websites to locate this information, but now they should be able to look it up in the truck manifest portal," McQueary said.
In addition, a new "type-ahead search field" will allow the user "quick access to account information, eliminating the need for multiple screen clicks, reducing manifest and bill creation time," the agency said.
"With these upgrades, I think Customs will see an uptick in the use of the truck manifest portal," McQueary said.
CBP said testing of these latest updates to the portal will continue through December, with the rollout scheduled for January 2020.
The agency said the second phase of enhancements will be announced during the winter of 2020, followed by a third phase later in the year.
"At the completion of all three phases, CBP will retire the legacy truck manifest application," the agency said.
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