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6/22/2017 - CBP's Pre-Arrival Processing System

We have had several member questions regarding CBP’s PAPS system and below is a primer on how it works, the various requirements and potential benefits. It could be of interest to some XLA members who engage in high-volume cross-border shipments.

The Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) border cargo release mechanism which expedites the release of commercial shipments while still processing each shipment through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), the Automated Commercial Shipment (ACS), and the Automated Targeting System (ATS).

As a result of the Trade Act of 2002, the use of PAPS has become mandatory for truck carriers at land border ports of entry. Each PAPS shipment requires a unique barcode label, which the carrier attaches to the invoice and the CBP form 7533 inward manifest. This barcode consists of the carrier's Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) and Pro-Bill number (Northern border) or filer code and entry number (Southern border).

This information is then transmitted to the Customs broker in the U.S. for input into the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) which creates an entry in ACS. The truck carrier is responsible for input of information into ACE prior to the truck leaving foreign. Upon arrival at the border, the CBP Officer processes the shipment in ACE, which automatically retrieves the entry information from ACS. If no examination is required, the Officer then releases the truck from the primary booth, reducing the carrier's wait time and easing congestion at the U.S. border.

Invoices are NOT required for truck processing at the border; however, brokers shall maintain this documentation and must provide it to the CBP Officer when requested.

PAPS is managed on a port-by-port basis and is available through most U.S. ports of entry. The carrier must be approved by CBP to participate in PAPS. The process begins when the designated carrier or importer/exporter requests a PAPS release by forwarding the required documentation in advance of the physical arrival of the goods.

PAPS does not relieve importers or carriers of any obligations imposed on them by CBP to provide accurate, complete and timely information to their Customs broker in advance arrival of the cargo.

Shipments subject to other government agencies like Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Transportation bonds (IT and T&E), Section 32l releases ($200 or less), Instruments of International Traffic (IIT's), and shipments participating in Line Release cannot be released under PAPS.

Under the CBP advanced notification requirements, prior notice of all shipments will be required before the carrier's arrival at the border.

Thus, the advantages of the system are:
• PAPS is an alternative release process to line release,
• PAPS allows the broker time to review documents to assist in accuracy and compliance,
• PAPS allows importers to be prepared for advance notification requirements,
• PAPS is a means to transmit shipment information prior to the carrier's arrival at the border.

You should inform your Customs Broker of your intent to use PAPS and acquire their broker/filer code. Also, establish fax procedures to transmit entry information, which will include, invoice, SCAC, and pro bill number and an agreement on the amount of advanced notice needed for submitting ABI entry information.

Note that PAPS is for U.S. bound commercial vehicles and is NOT INTERCHANGEABLE with the Canadian PARS System which is designed for Canadian bound commercial traffic.

Barcodes on the invoice and manifest are no longer mandated at truck crossings for CBP purposes with the arrival of ACE. The barcodes on invoices and manifests are for importer/carrier/broker/etc. reference only.

If any XLA member has additional questions or needs additional information regarding PAPS, the contact point at CBP is Quintin Clarke and you may reach him by email at

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