Canada’s eManifest initiative is part of the larger Advance Commercial Information (ACI) program by the Canadian government and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The ACI program aims to improve risk management of inbound and in-transit cargo and conveyances using tools that identify threats to health, safety and security.
On January 11, 2017, ACI eHBL, a part of the ACI program, will end its transition period and begin the second phase of its implementation. During this next phase, the CBSA will start issuing zero-rated penalties to freight forwarders deemed to be non-compliant so it’s best to work toward full compliance as quickly as possible. Are you ready for the next phase? Here are some details about the ACI or Canada eManifest program to help you along.
What is Canada eManifest?
Specifically, Canada eManifest requires highway and rail carriers to submit advance cargo and conveyance data electronically to CBSA before arrival at border crossing. Freight forwarders and brokers/importer self-filers are also required to transmit secondary data and advance importer data, respectively.
Timelines for filing eManifest data vary by mode of transport. Marine carriers must submit electronic data 24 hours before loading or arrival depending on type and origin of goods, while air carriers must submit advance data 4 hours prior to arrival or at the time of departure. Rail and highway carriers are required to submit eManifest information 2 hours and 1 hour before arrival, respectively.
The eManifest initiative has been in force since July 2015, which means that noncompliance may result in heavy fines and penalties. “Noncompliance” covers missing, incomplete and inaccurate submissions, submissions that are intentionally false, and changes made to submissions that are not reported to CBSA. Not filing the required data within the specific time frames may also lead to fines.
The CBSA may issue multiple penalties if several parties are involved in a noncompliant shipment, and multiple infractions may lead to thousands of dollars in fines. The carrier also risks being turned back at border crossing, which could negatively impact the business and its customers.
Carriers have had adequate time to prepare for Canada eManifest implementation. However, regulations are constantly being refined, requiring businesses to keep a close watch. Having the right technology in place or partnering with a reputable eManifest service provider can greatly improve compliance and reduce the risk of penalties.
ACI eManifest Timeline and Important Dates
eManifest filing has been mandatory for highway carriers since May 2015. The following timeline and dates show the progress of the eManifest initiative:
May 6, 2015 to July 10, 2015: Transition period; no penalties will be issued for non-compliance. The CBSA will help carriers comply with requirements and correct errors.
July 10, 2015 to January 10, 2016: Carriers who fail to comply with eManifest requirements may receive zero-rated or non-monetary penalties under the CBSA's Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).
January 10, 2016: Carriers who fail to comply with eManifest requirements may receive monetary AMPS penalties.
November 7, 2016, to January 10, 2017: Transition period; no penalties will be issued to freight forwarders who fail to comply with requirements. CBSA will work closely with forwarders for corrective measures.
January 11, 2017 to July 11, 2017: Freight forwarders who fail to comply with eManifest requirements may receive zero-rated or non-monetary penalties under the CBSA’s Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).
July 12, 2017. Freight forwarders who fail to comply with eManifest requirements may receive monetary AMPS penalties.
November 7, 2016. Electronic house bills (eHBL) will become mandatory. Before the mandatory use date, clients who submit house bills for imports and in transits voluntarily will not be required to submit supplementary reports for shipments with a house bill on file.
How to File Canada eManifest/ CBSA eManifest
Clients can file advance eManifest information to CBSA via electronic data interchange (EDI), the eManifest Portal, or a CBSA-approved third party solution from a service provider.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
EDI is a method of information exchange directly from one computer to another; in this case, the client’s system and the CBSA system. Four EDI options are available, and clients who use EDI must implement one of the following transmission methods: Value Added Network (VAN), Customs Internet Gateway, direct connection, or third party provider.
The VAN option is a public EDI network with a single interface. The network is shared among multiple clients to exchange information with each other and with the CBSA. Each client that shares the VAN must pay for the connection and related fees. The second option, Customs Internet Gateway, is operated by the CBSA and allows clients to exchange information over the Internet. A direct connection to CBSA allows businesses to exchange data directly with CBSA. This option requires an initial setup fee and annual maintenance fee. The last option allows clients to send advance eManifest data to CBSA via software or technology from a third-party provider.
ACI eManifest Portal
The eManifest Portal is an online portal that allows clients to send eManifest data to the CBSA over the Internet. The eManifest Portal was originally developed to help small and midsize businesses transition from paper documentation to electronic data submission and facilitate compliance with the eManifest initiative. The portal allows the trade community to exchange data securely, receive notifications, confirmation messages and system messages from CBSA, verify eManifest data status sent via EDI or through the portal, and access online reference material.
Currently, highway carriers and freight forwarders can use the portal to send eManifest data to CBSA. Brokers and warehouse operators can also use the portal to view data sent by the CBSA. Those that wish to use the portal for information exchange must set up a Business Account and eManifest Portal User Account. The business account is set up by the account owner (a representative of the company), who will need a client identifier and Shared Secret. The client identifier is a unique number identifying the trade chain partner, while the Shared Secret is a temporary access code required to create a business account.
Third Party Solutions
Technology providers that have been approved by the CBSA offer eManifest solutions for the trade community. Being “approved” means the solutions provider has completed testing of its software service for ACI Highway. The third-party firm can be the primary eManifest provider (eManifest filing on the client’s behalf) or the secondary provider (backup eManifest filing for clients registered with another provider). The third party may also provide a software only service, allowing carriers to enter eManifest information themselves.
Choosing a Canada eManifest Service Provider
The Canada eManifest program aims to make trade more efficient. Customs officials can better identify and flag high-risk cargo while facilitating the movement of low-risk and legitimate goods. With the right technology, carriers and filers can ensure compliance and reduce the risk of receiving penalties from CBSA. Technology solutions from third party providers also help clients share, view and store information.
An eManifest service provider has a significant impact on your business, so it’s important to spend time and effort when choosing a vendor. Before looking for candidates, the first step is to identify your short and long-term goals. Do you need other e-cargo services besides eManifest? How long do you plan to you use the service? How much is your budget? Answering these questions will point you in the right direction. The next step is to find out what services are available and who’s offering them. The CBSA has a list of approved eManifest solutions providers, and you can start your search there.
When evaluating multiple vendors, here are some factors to consider:
Cost. The price must be within your budget, but try not to focus too much on cost. What you should look for is value for money, or the value the service provider can bring to your business.
Services Offered. What services are they offering? Is support and maintenance included in the monthly fee for the eManifest software? 24/7 customer support is a must if you plan to send data to CBSA outside business hours.
Service Quality. Check out sources such as the testimonials and reviews to find out what previous clients have to say about the service provider.
Technology. A good eManifest service provider invests in the latest technology and processes to streamline data exchange between clients and CBSA.
Experience. A new company isn’t necessarily a bad choice, but someone with many years of experience with EDI and electronic trade solutions understands the industry inside and out can pass on their knowledge to clients.
Global eTrade Solutions (GeTS)
GeTS is a CBSA-approved eManifest solutions provider. The company has been in the eTrade service business for many years, and it was one of the first providers to offer solutions compatible with the ACI system. Global eTrade Solutions eManifest service is a best-in-class solution for highway carriers, freight forwarders, importers and customs brokers. Enterprise users get a secure corporate account with 24/7 customer support and an easy-to-use application featuring multiple connectivity options. The eManifest application can be used alone or integrated into existing backend systems. GeTS processes thousands of eManifest submissions every month on behalf of clients. It’s easy to get started; after obtaining a carrier code from CBSA, simply choose a subscription plan, register for 30-day free trial, and send your first eManifest.
To learn more, please visit our Canada eManifest page. If you need additional information about ACI eHBL, please visit our eHBL page and ACI eManifest e-HBL. You may also leave us a message through the online form on our Contact Us page. We are here to help.