The U.S. Census Department requires exporters to submit Electronic Export Information, or EEI, on shipments to most foreign destinations if those shipments are valued at $2,500 or more per Schedule B code. Exporters must file that information through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) portal, which is maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Exporters need to know how to file that information correctly. They want to make sure they are complying with regulations while doing it quickly and easily, so it doesn’t become a burden. Fortunately, you can do both.
In this article, we’ll discuss frequently asked questions about filing your EEI and point you toward a free webinar that can bring your entire staff up to speed on export filing requirements.
Who Needs to File EEI?
It depends on who’s arranging the transportation—the seller or the buyer.
If the U.S.-based exporter, or seller, is arranging the transportation of the goods out of the country, it is their responsibility to make sure the required EEI filing is done. (The U.S. Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR), which govern the EEI filing, refer to the exporter as the U.S. Principal Party in Interest, or USPPI, although there are some exceptions. See my blog post, USPPI vs. Exporter: What’s the Difference?)
The USPPI can do their own EEI filing or they can pay a third party, like their freight forwarder, to file on their behalf. In that case, they need to provide written authorization to the third party and provide all the required export information to that third party so they can file correctly.
Remember, you can outsource responsibility, but you can’t outsource liability. It is the USPPI’s ultimate responsibility to ensure the EEI is submitted on time and with the correct information. That’s why it’s necessary to understand the rules and regulations, and why I recommend that in most cases exporters file for themselves. You can read more here: Filing Your Export Shipments through AES.
If the buyer is arranging the transportation of the goods out of the country, this is called a routed export transaction, and they are responsible for the EEI filing, although they usually can’t do it themselves. The FTR refer to the buyer as the Foreign Principal Party in Interest, or FPPI, and they must assign responsibility for the EEI filing to a third party located in the United States. It can be their freight forwarder, or it can also be the USPPI, which is what I often recommend.
What’s the Difference between ACE and AES?
When the FTR eliminated the paper-based Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) form in 2008, they required electronic filing of export information with the Automated Export System (AES) through a platform called AESDirect that was located on the Census Bureau’s own servers.
In 2016 the regulations changed again and moved AESDirect to the Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE, which CBP was already using for U.S. import entry filings. This “single window,” as CBP calls it, provides one system for processing trade-related data for imports and exports.
Before your company can begin submitting your EEI through AESDirect, you’ll need to register your company as an exporter with ACE even before you make your first shipment.
Which Shipments Require an EEI Filing?
The short answer is almost all shipments. If you’re shipping goods worth more than $2,500 per Schedule B number to a foreign destination, you’ll need to file your EEI. However, there are some exceptions and exemptions.
Shipments whose final destination is Canada don’t need to be filed unless those shipments contain rough diamonds, used vehicles, or items subject to government licenses or sanctions. Shipments to Guam and American Samoa, for example, do not require an EEI filing, while shipments to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands do require filings (even though the latter two locations are U.S. territories).
When Should You Submit the EEI?
You’ll need to file Electronic Export Information from several hours to several days before your shipment actually leaves the United States, depending on the mode of transport. That’s because U.S. customs reserves the right to inspect any cargo leaving the country, and early filing gives them ample opportunity to do so.
That’s also why it’s important to accurately indicate the port of export on your EEI. Listing the port of export allows the government to locate your cargo before it leaves the United States, should they wish to do an inspection. A mistake in that area could lead to a stiff penalty; exporters can be fined $10,000 for inaccurate filing or for failing to file at all, and could face a fine of $1,100.00 a day for late filing.
The government is, by all accounts, not shy at all about imposing these fines, which is why it’s crucial for exporting companies to be aware of the ins and outs of electronic filing regulations.
Our Best Resource for Training Your Staff
Our free webinar, Proper Filing of an EEI through ACE/AESDirect, is a great starting point for anyone who needs a primer on the process of filing. In it, you’ll learn:
- The requirements for filing on the ACE platform.
- Who is responsible for filing.
- When you need to file.
- The proper data elements you need to file.
- Changes made to filings including an ATA Carnets.
- How to correct a filing.
- How to file when an export license, exemption or exception is used.
- What steps to take if a freight forwarder files on your behalf.
- How to use software for easy filing of the EEI.
Just click below to watch the webinar now and move toward clarity and confidence when filing your EEI through ACE/AESDirect.