The Automated Export System (AES) is the primary instrument used by the U.S. Census Bureau to collect data on U.S. exports, which becomes part of the statistics used to compile the U.S. position on merchandise trade. In other words, by reporting your exports to AES, your information is included in the economic indicators and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of our nation’s economy. In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses the data to ensure compliance with U.S. export regulations so that our country’s exports do not fall into the hands of unauthorized parties that may harm the homeland or U.S. interests abroad.
So, reporting to AES is important!
While previously you could file this information on a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) paper form, companies are now required to file electronically using a system called AESDirect, which is accessed through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The information you file is called Electronic Export Information (EEI). According to the Census Bureau, electronic filing of the export information improves the government’s ability to monitor and prevent exports of critical goods and technologies that may threaten our national security and significantly improves the quality and timeliness of export statistics.
An AES filing is required for most exports of merchandise from the United States to a foreign country if the merchandise is valued at $2,500 or more by Schedule B number. However, the origin of the goods, either domestic or foreign, is also considered. For example, if you have two items in your shipment with the same Schedule B number valued at $2,000 each for a total of $4,000, and both are of domestic origin or both of foreign origin, you do need to file through AES. However, if half of it is of foreign origin and half domestic origin, then you do not need to file because the items by Schedule B number and by origin are only valued at $2,000 each.
An AES filing is also required for all exports that require an export license from the U.S. Commerce or State Departments regardless of value. Goods subject to ITAR but exempt from licensing requirements regardless of value or destination must be filed through AES.
Exports from the U.S. to Canada don’t require an AES filing regardless of the value of the merchandise unless the item is a self-propelled vehicle or an export license or license exception is required. As a matter of fact, all used self-propelled vehicles must be filed regardless of value or destination.
An AES filing is also required for rough diamonds (classified under HS subheadings 7102.10, 7102.21 and 7102.31) regardless of value or destination.
In most cases, the filing must be done from one to 24 hours prior to the actual export of the shipment depending on the method of transportation.
Civil and criminal penalties for failing to file through AES or for filing incorrect information can be up to a maximum of $10,000 per violation. It is the job of the Office of Export Enforcement within the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security to investigate and enforce these rules.
An AES filing is often submitted by the U.S. Principal Party in Interest (USPPI), which is typically the U.S. exporter. It can also be submitted by an authorized agent of the USPPI, such as a freight forwarder. A U.S. agent of the Foreign Principal Party in Interest (FPPI), which is typically the ultimate consignee, can also submit the EEI, such as when the buyer hires a U.S.-based freight forwarder to arrange the export. The address reported for the USPPI in the AES filing must be the address where the goods begin their journey to the port of export.
If the exporter or the foreign buyer is relying on an agent or freight forwarder to file a submission through AES, they must present this agent with a written limited power of attorney or some other written authorization.
While the responsibility of filing with AES can be out-sourced, the liability cannot. Be sure to request proof of filing if you authorize your freight forwarder to do it for you.
The ACE portal can be accessed directly at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Once you have logged in you will have to type all your shipment information directly on the AESDirect screens.
Another option is to access AESDirect through an export documentation and compliance software such as Shipping Solutions. That way the same data you have entered to complete your export documents is easily uploaded to AESDirect, eliminating redundant data entry, which reduces mistakes and provides a substantial cost savings. Some Shipping Solutions customers have said they have recouped their investment in the software in less than 10 export shipments.
In addition, by utilizing a software program, it allows companies to keep the AES filing in-house since the exporter is responsible for the accuracy of the data regardless of who they have file it.
The following section outlines the steps to follow in order to create an AESDirect filing.
In order to file with AESDirect, you must first get an ACE User Name and Password. If you are an importer as well as an exporter, you may already have one. In that case, just make sure that it has the Exporter Account Type. To check this, talk to your company’s Trade Account Owner, and if needed, get the Exporter role added to your account. If you don’t have an ACE account, the application is on the CBP website.
Once you have your ACE account, login to the ACE Portal on the CBP website to accept the AESDirect certification statements. You must use Internet Explorer with the pop-up blocker turned off. You may be asked to verify your account. If you see a screen like the one below, click the radio button next to your company name and click Select and Continue. If your company is not listed, contact the ACE Account Service Desk at (866) 530-4172, option 1.
Account Verification Pop-up
You will then be taken to the main ACE screen. Click the Accounts tab. The tabs on the ACE screen are located below the ACE Secure Data Portal heading. Choose Exporter in the Account Type drop-down list and click Go.
Click the Submit AES Direct Filings task. This will take you to a screen that contains eight AES Certification Statements. Read each statement, check the box next to each statement, and click Accept. The statements are shown in Appendix 1 below.
After clicking Accept you will be taken to the AESDirect Shipment Manager. There is no logout button on this screen, so simply close the browser to exit. Logout of the ACE portal screen by clicking the little door icon just below the flag on the right side of the screen.
Starting in April 2016, all exporters were required to access AESDirect via the ACE portal. There are two ways to login to ACE. You can login directly from the CBP website, or you can use an export documentation and compliance software, such as Shipping Solutions.
To login from the CBP website, you must use Internet Explorer version 10 or higher, and you must disable your browser’s pop-up blocker. The disadvantage of using this method is that once you are logged in to ACE, you will have to type in all your shipment information manually into AESDirect.
With a software program like Shipping Solutions, on the other hand, all the information that you have already entered into the program to create your export documents can quickly and easily be uploaded to AESDirect. Also, Shipping Solutions does a preliminary check of your data to make sure you aren’t missing any required information.
To login to ACE using Shipping Solutions, click the AES button at the top of the EZ Start screen. Any missing items will be listed on the right side of the AES screen along with the EZ Start screen where they should be entered in Shipping Solutions. Close the AES screen and enter the missing items, and then click the AES button again. When all data has been entered, the message All AES data is complete will appear on the right side of the screen. Click the Login tab and login to ACE.
The ACE Portal Login Screen
On the ACE Portal, click the Accounts tab. The tabs on the ACE screen are located below the ACE Secure Data Portal heading. Choose Exporter in the Account Type drop-down list and click Go. If you have more than one account, choose one from the Account Selector list.
The Accounts Tab on the ACE Portal
If you are logged directly into the ACE portal, click the Submit AESDirect Filings task. On the AESDirect screen, click the Create Export Filing button. Enter your shipment information on the Shipment, Parties, Commodities and Transportation screens.
If you are using Shipping Solutions, click the Shipment tab and then click the Create Filing button. A Filing tab will open. After a few seconds you will see your data pop into the Shipment, Parties, Commodities and Transportation screens.
See below for an explanation of the fields on each of the four screens.
Once you are confident your data is complete, click the green Submit Filing button. If there is any data that does not meet AESDirect standards, you will get a Filing Contains Errors screen. Small red boxes will appear next to each step in the filing identifying the errors. Read the messages in red identifying what is wrong with the data, fix the data, and click the Submit Filing button again. Continue fixing errors until your shipment is accepted.
When your filing is accepted you will get a pop-up message with a thumbs up icon. Closing the shipment will take you to the AESDirect Shipment Manager screen. You will then see an ITN number listed next to your shipment. You can copy and paste this number to the EZ Start-EEI screen in Shipping Solutions or click the Get ITN number button, which will copy the ITN number for you. It will then print on the appropriate export documents. It will be sent to the email address or addresses entered on the Step 1: Shipment tab.
The AESDirect Shipment Manager
Once you have the green “Accepted” status next to your shipment, you’re done! Congratulations!
Each field on the four steps of the Export Filing Screen are described below.
Step 1: Shipment Tab
Step 2: Parties Tab
The following data items are entered for each line item in your shipment. Items should be separated based on Commodity Classification Code (Schedule B code), Origin (whether Domestic or Foreign), commodities valued over $2,500, and those requiring an export license. If you are using Shipping Solutions, your line items will automatically be combined as they are uploaded to AESDirect.
Step 3: Commodities Tab
Step 4: Transportation Tab
When you close a shipment you will be returned to the AESDirect Shipment Manager screen. There you will see a list of your filings from newest to oldest. The Shipment Manager displays a green Accepted button if your filing was accepted and a red Rejected button if your filing was rejected. If your filing was accepted, you will also see the ITN number.
The AESDirect Shipment Manager
If you upload or enter a shipment but close it before submitting it to AESDirect, it will be saved as a draft. Draft shipments are kept for 30 days and then deleted. Click Edit under Shipment Actions to continue working on a shipment. If you can’t see the Shipment Actions, click the plus sign next to the Shipment Reference Number. You can click Delete to delete the draft or wait for it to be deleted after 30 days.
If you want to search for a previous shipment, type your search criteria in the Search box and click the Search button. You can type anything in the search box that is shown on the AESDirect filing screen such as Shipment Reference Number, Last Updated Date, Consignee or Destination.
To find a shipment that was filed using the old AESDirect legacy system, click the Amend AES Filing button and search for it using the ITN number and Shipment Reference Number.
To amend a previously submitted shipment, locate the shipment and click Amend. To delete the shipment click Cancel EEI.
There is no logoff button on the AESDirect Shipment Manager screen. Simply close your browser or the Shipping Solutions AES screen to exit.
From the ACE Portal it is possible to run reports of the EEI that has been submitted by your company or submitted by someone else on your company’s behalf. These reports provide easier access to your export data than the previous method of submitting a request to Census. The reports can be created any time at no charge. Data for the last five years plus the current year is available.
The reports are run by Employer Identification Number (EIN) and either an export date range or a filing date range. The available reports include:
An ACE exporter account is required to access these reports, but that is not enough. You also have to be authorized to run the reports. Some exporter accounts, if they were added to an existing importer account, may already have report authorization. You can check this by logging into ACE, clicking the Accounts tab, choosing Exporter in the Account Type drop-down list and clicking Go. Then under accounts click the name of your company, so it appears as the Exporter on the right side of the screen. Then look for the Authorization for Reports account status. The status will tell you if you are authorized for running reports or not.
If you are not authorized, click the button on the right side of the screen that says Request EIN Reports Authorization. You will see a message that says you need to provide additional information to get access to the report features.
Click the link to the Certification of Authority, complete the document, and send it to email@example.com. You may have to answer additional questions from Census before receiving reporting authorization.
Once you have authorization, you can access the reports by logging into ACE and clicking the Accounts tab. Select Exporter in the Account Type drop-down list, click Go, and then click Reports in the Select Task list. Click Launch Reports. You must use Internet Explorer as your browser for the reports to launch.
Before you can file your EEI to AES, you must understand and agree to comply with the following eight statements:
1. Shipments that require filing in AES include, but are not limited to:
2. The Shipment Reference Number is a unique number created by the filer to identify a specific shipment in AES. This number CANNOT be re-used for creating a new shipment.
3. The address reported for the USPPI in the AES filing must be the address where the goods begin their journey to the port of export.
4. If a shipment receives a Fatal Error or if shipment information changes after the date of export, the shipment record must be retrieved, corrected and resubmitted under the same Shipment Reference Number as soon as the error or updated information is known to the filer.
5. The Internal Transaction Number (ITN) is received once a shipment is accepted by the AES. The ITN, exemption or exclusion legend is required on the bill of lading, air waybill, or other commercial documents as proof of filing.
7. If the goods being shipped are subject to any other government/regulatory entity, it is your responsibility to make this determination and comply accordingly.
8. I understand that civil and criminal penalties, including forfeiture and sale, may be imposed for making false or fraudulent statements herein, failing to provide the requested information, or for violation of U.S. laws on exportation (13 U.S.C. Sec. 305; 22 U.S.C. Sec 401; 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001; 50 U.S.C. App. 2410).
When filing your Electronic Export Information (EEI) with AES, you must select the proper export code. The most common code is “OS—All other exports.” Here is a list and description of all the export codes as they appear in the Foreign Trade Regulations (15 CFR 30):
Certain products require an export license before they can be exported to certain countries. Here is a list of license types organized by agency as they appear in the Foreign Trade Regulations (15 CFR 30). The License No./Exemption field indicates whether a license number is required for each license type or whether an exemption code must be submitted to AESDirect. For example, if you select License Type C30, you must enter a license number for that item. If you enter License Type C35, you must enter the exemption code LVS.
4-step Export Filing screen – This screen is within AESDirect, and it is the screen you will be directed to after you have clicked the Create Filing button in Shipping Solutions or when you click Create Export Filing from the AESDirect Shipment Manager screen. Each of the four steps includes part of the data you uploaded from Shipping Solutions or entered manually. The four steps are Shipment, Parties, Commodities and Transportation. Review the data and then click the green Submit Filing button to submit the data to AESDirect.
Accounts Tab – This tab is located in the ACE Portal. Once you are logged in, click this tab to choose the Exporter Account Type and your Account (if your company has more than one).
ACE Portal – The ACE Secure Data Portal is run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It has long been used for reporting on U.S. imports. In 2016 it was modified to allow for reporting of Electronic Export Information (EEI). You must have a login to the ACE Portal in order to file your EEI whether you are using Shipping Solutions or filing directly from the ACE Portal website.
AESDirect – AESDirect is run by the U.S. Census Bureau and is the system through which your Electronic Export Information (EEI) is filed. It is accessed through the ACE Portal. You will not see any reference to AESDirect on the ACE Portal, however, until you login, click the Accounts tab, select the Exporter Account Type, and click Go. You will then see a task called Submit AESDirect Filings, which will take you to the AESDirect Shipment Manager.
AESDirect Legacy – This refers to the old system where Electronic Export Information (EEI) was filed before AESDirect was refactored into the ACE portal. The AESDirect Legacy system was decommissioned on April 30, 2016.
AESDirect Shipment Manager – This screen is accessed through the ACE Portal and shows you all your shipments whether they have been accepted, rejected or are in draft form. You can edit or delete drafts, and you can amend or cancel accepted shipments. You can also print a summary of the EEI that you entered.
Create Filing button - This button is located on the Shipment tab of the AES screen in Shipping Solutions. Once all your shipment data is entered in Shipping Solutions, click this button to upload it to AESDirect. You must be logged into the ACE Portal before clicking this button.
EEI – This stands for Electronic Export Information. It is the data that exporters are required to file with the U.S. Census Bureau for most exports valued at more than $2,500. The method for filing your EEI is through AESDirect via the ACE Portal.
Filing Tab – This tab is located on the AES screen within Shipping Solutions. It is the tab you will be directed to after you have clicked the Create Filing button. The screen will show the 4-step Export Filing screen in AESDirect.
Login Tab – This tab is located on the AES screen within Shipping Solutions. It links to the login page of the ACE Portal. You must login to the ACE Portal before clicking the Create Filing button on the Shipment tab.
Shipment Tab – This tab is located on the AES screen within Shipping Solutions. It shows the seven steps for filing your EEI through the ACE Portal. It also provides a list of missing data so you can complete your shipment before uploading it to AESDirect. The Create Filing button, which will upload your EEI to AESDirect, is located on this tab.
Submit Filing button – This button is located on the 4-step Export Filing screen for a particular shipment within AESDirect. Click this button to submit your EEI information to AESDirect.
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