eManifest is a term used to describe the advance, electronic conveyance of freight information to customs officials prior to a shipment arriving at a border.
eManifest expedites the customs clearance process by allowing pertinent information about shipments to be assessed and approved by customs officials in advance of any shipment’s physical arrival.
Why is eManifest Important?
To accommodate the number of shipments crossing borders every day, and with the increased attention to health and safety regarding shipment of dangerous or potentially harmful goods, many countries have implemented automated (electronic) processes to allow more intricate screening procedures to be carried out by customs officials in advance of all shipments.
eManifest in Canada
In Canada, the Advance Commercial Information (ACI) program is an example of one of these procedure sets that has been implemented in three phases; the first two pertaining to air and marine carriers, and the third pertaining to requirements for highway and rail shipments. Each method of shipment has its own set of processing guidelines as laid out by the ACI program.
eManifest is currently in the process of being implemented in Canada to pertain to all shipments. Given the complexity of migrating all shipment tracking information to exist in an electronic format, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is allowing carriers and freight forwarders a grace period for complete compliance with the new regulations. Eventually, eManifest will be the standard method for clearance and approval of all international trade goods leaving or entering Canada.
eManifest in the U.S. and Internationally
There are variations of eManifest being implemented by border service agencies all over the globe. In the U.S., the program is referred to as the ACE or Automated Commercial Environment.
As the transition occurs from paper to electronic reporting, organizations are encouraged to be aware of the newly implemented compliance regulations. Many customs brokerage firms are already proactively managing eManifest regulations, and have developed customized software solutions to help organizations ensure proper compliance for all of their shipping requirements.