ACI: What you need to know

As your transportation partner we want to ensure that you’re prepared.

The following information outlines some of the major ways that ACI, (an upcoming Canada Border Service Agency Initiative) will affect you:

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1. Advanced shipment screening will help reduce costly border delays and “in bond” charges.

Advanced Commercial Information (ACI) is a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) initiative to increase cross border trade efficiencies and to improve the protection of Canadian citizens through advanced cargo clearance and risk assessment screening.

As an ACI compliant carrier, CSA must meet new eManifest requirements and transmit specific information about your shipment to border officials in advance of moving your freight into Canada. This will allow for speedier border crossings and reduced wait times.

All carriers must be ACI compliant by fall 2013 (CBSA to release date 45 prior to program start).

2. You will need to send shipment-level information: Commercial invoice, bill of lading etc. to CSA sooner than previously required.

CSA, in cooperation with your customs broker, must submit dispatch level and shipment level information to Canada customs prior to moving your freight across the border. To help create efficiencies, we will begin coordinating the setup of clearances with your broker as soon as we receive information about your shipment. In many cases, before we pick up your shipment.

As part of the new ACI requirements, drivers need to present a special barcoded manifest called an "eManifest" to the CBSA upon arrival at the border crossing. This eManifest must exactly match the freight traveling in the trailer. Because of this CSA can only load your freight on a truck bound for Canada once we receive an acceptance to cross from the CBSA. This means shipment-level information will need to be sent as early as possible so it can be sent to your customs broker, who will then set it up for acceptance by the CBSA.

3. Your regularly scheduled delivery times may change if shipment level information is not sent early enough.

This new clearance process will eliminate major border delays but does require some additional "up-front" coordination so that you can receive an acceptance to cross from the CBSA. So, as mentioned, CSA will need your documentation much sooner than before. If you normally ship orders late on a Friday, you will now need to send the required documents on Thursday (or Friday morning at the latest) so that the clearances and eManifests can be set up before your freight is loaded on a truck bound for Canada. If this is not possible, moving your scheduled pickup day to a Thursday may help ensure your freight still delivers at your scheduled time.

The best-case scenario is to place a pickup with us and once you receive freight bill number (tracking number), send your documentation so we can begin to coordinate your shipment.

ACI Summary: Due to the ACI program's eManifest requirements CSA will only be able to load your freight on a Canada bound truck once your broker receives an acceptance to cross from the CBSA. The earlier you send the required customs documentation to CSA, the faster we can get it to your broker so he can work on getting an acceptance to cross from the CBSA. Once this occurs we can then create an ACI eManifest corresponding to your freight so it can be loaded onto the next available Canadian bound truck.

Please send documentation to CSA directly instead of attaching it to your freight; CSA has a dedicated fax line or email address for this purpose (listed below) so the pre-clearance process can begin as early as possible.

Where do I send my customs documentation?

Please send customs documentation to:

Email: customs at
Fax: 1.866.385.4555



Here is a list of the required customs documentation

The following must be sent to CSA before we can load your freight on a Canada bound truck. Shipments without this required info cannot be shipped and will remain on our dock.

  1. The Name of your Customs Broker
  2. A completed CSA Bill of Lading
  3. A commercial invoice listing a value of the goods (zero value not permitted) and the country of origin of the goods.

Similar rules already apply for cargo coming from Canada into the U.S. under the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system. Both systems have the overall goal to make the trading process more efficient between Canada and the U.S. while protecting citizens from health and safety risks posed by cargo entering the country.

If you have any questions about the above please speak to your account manager or contact your nearest CSA distribution centre location.

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