Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) - Pilot Program Extension - Is This Preparation For An Air Cargo Security "Presidential Memorandum?"

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The Legal Corner, August 2014 Issue:

On July 28, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a Federal Register Notice announcing an extension of ACAS’ Pilot Program until July 26, 2015. To quote from the Notice:

The ACAS pilot is a voluntary test in which participants submit a subset of required advance air cargo data to CBP at the earliest point practicable prior to loading of the cargo onto the aircraft destined to or transiting through the United States.

New pilot participants have until September to apply. (Call me if you wish to discuss the pros and cons of participating in the Pilot Program).

For those of you who are part of the International Air Cargo Community, you probably have familiarity with the “ill-fated” Advance Cargo Reporting Program which ACAS, if successful, will replace.

Many of you are also familiar with the ocean equivalent, the (ISF) “Importer Security Filing.” CBP requires electronic filing prior to U.S. arrival of ocean freight. It is submitted most often by the customs broker or “authorized” freight forwarder, and discloses tariff descriptions and other details of the cargo contents. This filing currently is for “security only” purposes and the data’s accuracy is not measured against that submitted in the ultimate Customs “entry.”

Since there have been no public disclosures relating to the efficiency or effectiveness of either ACAS or ISF to date, it is only a guess as to how many changes CBP will make to the programs in order to “get them right.” Remember ABI (Automated Broker Interface) filing took almost 20 years to adopt in its current incarnation.

Based on past experience, we can expect the security programs relating to international air cargo to take substantial additional testing and thus time to implement.

Crowding that already crowded field is the recently (July 17) publicized “Presidential Memorandum” to the heads of all National Executive Departments and Agencies.

The title suggests its haughty and probably overly ambitious goal – “Establishing a National Goal and Developing Airport Specific Action Plans to Enhance the Entry Process for International Travelers to the United States.” The order is to “increase visa processing capacity, expand the Visa Waiver and expand expedited traveler programs, all without compromising national security requirements.”

A word to the Government – there are private concerns existing in our Trade and Passenger Community whose expertise will be most important and valuable in completing this task. An important possibility to ponder is the chance that ACAS will morph into another ill-fated Presidential mandate.

by Carl R. Soller

McBreen & Kopko

Carl R. Soller, Special Customs, International Cargo and Regulatory Compliance Counsel to McBreen & Kopko is counsel to the JFK Airport Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association and a recognized expert in his practice areas. He and his firm concentrate their Air Cargo Practice in all business and regulatory matters on a nationwide basis. He offers advice on supply chain security and its related Government Regulations to the Air Cargo Community as well as advice and a vast range of assistance to importers and exporters of all kinds of consumer goods.  He can be reached at (646) 502-5791 or


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