U.S. Customs and Border Protection later this month will begin the third phase of a trial program to test use of its document-imaging system
for electronically uploading shipping documents required along with the customs entry. The pilot program covers shipments that must be released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.
The paper system is designed to speed up response time by allowing traders to scan and email supporting documents for cargo import and export processes. CBP has reduced the number of data elements that will be required from trade filers when they submit imaged documents. Document imaging is another piece of the International Trade Data System, which is being developed as the single electronic pipeline for all agencies with a role in managing imports and exports. The platform for ITDS is the Automated Commercial Environment, the information technology system under development by CBP to process cargo shipments and make security determinations. Document imaging eliminates the need to transmit paper forms, often by courier, reducing expense and speeding up cargo release.
The second phase of the pilot involving the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Service began a year ago. Other government agencies participating in the document imaging pilot are the Centers for Disease Control, the Defense Contract Management Agency, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Importers or brokers that file entry summaries in ACE may volunteer to participate in the pilot by applying at the Pembina, S.D., and Sweetgrass, Mont., ports of entry, CBP said in a message to the trade community. Software vendors can also file on behalf of importers and brokers.
Five APHIS documents will be eligible to uploaded, including the sanitary certificates issued by foreign governments, country-of-origin documentation such as a bill of lading, and documentary evidence of a food product's ingredients.