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Electronic Filing of USDA Import Inspection Application Through ACE to be Tested

Friday, March 29, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has made available a draft compliance guide for U.S. importers and customs brokers on the electronic filing of import inspection applications for certain meat, poultry and egg products through the Automated Commercial Environment. FSIS is also announcing a pilot program intended to test the transfer of data from the participating government agency message set in ACE to FSIS’s Web-based data analytics system, the Public Health Information System. FSIS encourages importers and brokers to review and comment on the draft compliance guide by June 27 and, if they are interested, to request participation in the pilot program no later than May 28.

Importers of meat, poultry and egg products must apply for the inspection of imported product by completing FSIS Form 9540-1, Import Inspection Application and Report. Until recently, applicants gave the completed form to FSIS import inspection program personnel, who entered the information from the form into the Automated Import Inspection System. Information from the egg products import request form (FSIS Form 5200-8) was entered into the Egg Product Database, which was used to track imported egg products and identify shipments for reinspection.

On May 29, 2012, FSIS replaced AIIS and the Egg Product Database with the import component of PHIS, which provides a streamlined, electronic alternative to the paper-based import inspection application process and electronically links with ACE to create a unified import processing system for entering data. Currently, the PHIS interface with ACE enables the transfer to FSIS of a limited number of data elements collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that are also required by FSIS.

The PGA message set defines the additional information FSIS requires from importers to complete its import application process. The PGA message set will enable importers and brokers to enter FSIS import inspection application information directly into the Automated Broker Interface, which transfers data into ACE as part of the CBP entry process. This information will then be sent to PHIS in advance of a shipment’s arrival, which will expedite data entry and shipment clearance by FSIS.

To facilitate the implementation of the electronic filing of FSIS-specific data elements, FSIS has developed a draft compliance guide intended to help importers and brokers understand the additional FSIS data elements that will need to be submitted through ACE in order to complete the import application process.

In addition, FSIS intends to initiate on May 28 a pilot program in which participating importers and brokers will use the PGA message set to send these additional data elements through ACE to PHIS (rather than submitting the paper FSIS Form 9540-1) before their cargo arrives in the U.S. FSIS will evaluate this pilot to determine whether this process expedites import clearances.

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