Understanding and Anticipating APHIS Delays

Date of publication: October 26, 2020

On September 28, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that they will be delaying the full implementation of the APHIS Core Message Set in Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE, until January 2021.

ACE, the government system used to process imports and exports, allows APHIS and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to work together to prevent harmful plant pests and animal diseases from entering the United States. By logging specific information about the products importers intend to bring into the country, ACE ensures that both APHIS and CBP can make sure the imported products are not a threat to health or agriculture within the United States. ACE also benefits importers by speeding up entry processing and alerting importers if their entered data does not pass validation or is omitting necessary information. By increasing both process speed and data accuracy, ACE improves the overall process for APHIS, CBP, and importers.

The delay of the ACE implementation comes in response to concerns raised by shareholders and the trade community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation, which will now take place on January 25, 2021, will require that filers must submit an APHIS core message set when they receive a flag in ACE to complete their entry. Currently, filing an APHIS core message set is optional. Due to other unprecedented delays and complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing back the date of the implementation gives the trade community additional time to prepare for the upcoming changes.

Importers and other members of the trade community should be aware that APHIS core message set requirements are extensive, and that they should anticipate additional time when filing their APHIS core message set. Once the full implementation goes into effect on January 25, 2021, all members of the trade community should remember to be patient and prepared while navigating the changes to the ACE system.

This content is intended for informational purposes. Due to the generality of this content, the provided information may not be applicable in all situations. We encourage the reader to review the most up-date-regulations directly with the U.S. government’s sources on APHIS and ACE, which can be found here.