Understanding And Avoiding AES Export Violations

As a US exporter, you must know that US federal law requires “that prior to an international shipment, you may need to file your export transaction electronically. This electronic filing is referred to as Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing, and is required when the value of the commodity classified under each individual Schedule B number is over $2,500 USD, or if an export license is required.” The EEI is the export data that must be filed through the Automated Export System (AES) by the US exporter, who is now known as the US Principal Party in Interest (USPPI). The USPPI is the party that receives the major benefit (usually money) of the export transaction. As indicated below, the US Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) require an AES filing for exports to anywhere other than Canada (unless an export license is required). 

A Very Brief History Of AES 

AES is the system for collecting EEI (or any successor to the Shipper's Export Declaration, or SED) from persons exporting goods from the United States, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands; between Puerto Rico and the United States; and to the US Virgin Islands from the United States or Puerto Rico. The AES is currently accessed through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), which is a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorized electronic data interchange system for processing import and export data.

For those of you who have been involved in exporting for the last 14 years or so, you know that electronic AES filings replaced the old paper SED form, which was officially retired in 2008. In fact, many within the exporting community today keep referring to EEI filings as “SED” or “shipper’s dec” or “ex dec” filings. When AES became mandatory, exporters (or their agents, the freight forwarders) typically used the Census Bureau’s AESDirect website to file export data. That old legacy system was shut down in April 2016 after AESDirect had been rebuilt. The legacy system was added to the ACE platform operated by CBP.

The move from the AESDirect legacy system to the AESDirect on the ACE platform was part of the great effort to make the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) the primary interface in which US importers and exporters file their import and export information. The US Government’s goal has been to streamline the reporting process, eliminate paper, and more easily ensure compliance with US laws and regulations. It must be remembered that whether you are a US importer or exporter, you must exercise extreme care when filing data with the US government. The information to be filed must be timely, accurate, and complete.

US Export Laws And Commodity Codes

Title 13, United States Code (USC.), Chapter 9, section 301 constitute the FTR, which can also be cited as Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 30 (15 C.F.R 30). The FTR mandates that all persons who are required to file export information under Chapter 9 of 13 USC., file such information through AES for all shipments where a SED was previously required. The law further authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to issue regulations regarding the imposition of civil and criminal penalties for violations of the provisions of the Act and these regulations.

You can access the electronic form of the FTR here.

The Schedule B is also known as The Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States. These 10-digit commodity classification numbers are administered by the US Census Bureau and cover everything from live animals and food products to computers and airplanes. It should also be noted that all import and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff System.

You can access Schedule B by visiting the website

What US Export Agencies Do And Can Do With You 

The US Census Bureau, an agency within the US Department of Commerce, uses these filings to calculate US trade statistics, which are very important to the US Congress in terms of figuring out US international trade balances or imbalances. These statistics figure into the creation of US international trade policy. CBP, an agency within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), uses the data to help ensure compliance with US export regulations. In other words, CBP and other US federal law enforcement agencies use EEI filing information to ascertain whether US exporters, or USPPIs, are in violation of US export laws and regulations. If so, an exporter may receive a monetary penalty notice from CBP. If the exporter is particularly unlucky, then a visit from CBP, DHS, US Bureau of Industry and Security, or US Immigrations and Customs officials may be in store for you. This scenario must be avoided. Investigations, audits, and penalties can destroy an exporter. 

EEI Filing Requirements

File your export transaction when your shipment includes any of the following shipments:

  • Valued over $2,500 per Schedule B number and is sent from the same exporter to the same buyer and on the same day; (According to the FTR Section 30.1(c), value is defined as the selling price in US dollars plus inland and domestic freight, insurance, and other charges to the US seaport, airport, or land border port of export);
  • Requiring an export license, regardless of value or self-propelled vehicles; destination;
  • Subject to the International Traffic In Arms Regulations even if they are exempt from export licensing requirements regardless of value or destination;
  • Falling under “600 series” of the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for items enumerated in paragraphs “a to x”;
  • Requiring license exception-Strategic Trade Authorization (STA);
  • Destined for Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria (regardless of value);
  • Rough diamonds, regardless of value (HTS 7102.10, 7102.21 and 7102.31) and destination;
  • Self-propelled vehicles (see Title 19, C.F.R, Part 192);
  • Shipped to Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands (with the same requirements as shipping to foreign countries.)

Note: If you intend to export to China, Russia, or Venezuela, you need to take notice of an EEI filing requirement in the AES. Effective June 29, 2020, all exports (regardless of value) to China, Russia, or Venezuela and described under an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) on the Commerce Control List (Supplement No. 1 to 15 CFR part 774) require an EEI filing in the AES; unless the shipment is authorized under license exception GOV (See: 15 C.F.R Section 740.11). This new requirement is described in 15 C.F.R Section 758.1(b)(10). 

How To Avoid Common Problems And Penalties Related To EEI Filings

If there are problems with the EEI you have filed, CBP is the agency that will send you a penalty notice.

CBP sees a number of relatively common situations that can result in penalties for violations of the FTR. Two common violations are incorrect port of export and incorrect date of export. CBP has modified the guidance on issuing penalties for incorrect date of export to allow up to four (4) days difference between the estimated date of export and the actual date of export, as long as the actual date is after the estimated date on the EEI. The EEI with an estimated date of export greater than 4 days difference prior to the actual date of export must be updated. Failure to update the EEI submission may result in FTR penalties. 

When the electronic export manifest for all modes of transportation is in place, the CBP will use the port of export declared on the manifest, instead of the port of export declared in the EEI submission. Until then, the exporter, or their authorized filing agent, are responsible for making corrections to the EEI record when they become aware of any change to the provided information. 

Other relatively common FTR issues include the incorrect mode of transportation and the conveyance’s name along the US border with Canada. There is a tendency for exporters, or their authorized filing agent, to use the name of the carrier loading the cargo being exported out of Canada and not reporting the carrier taking the goods out of the US. CBP has seen a number of shipments declared as an export on an ocean carrier at a land border crossing port into Canada. 

Additionally, failure to provide accurate information as part of the EEI submission may result in penalties to the exporter, filer, carrier, or some other party that is believed to have caused the FTR violation(s). Providing accurate information in the EEI submission is important to all parties, including the US government. Other US government agencies require the submission of export licensing, license exemptions/exceptions, and permits via the EEI submission at the time of export and entry of goods coming into the United States that are controlled under US export control laws and regulations.

Finding And Getting Help

If you have any questions or issues concerning the FTR, please contact us. We are here to help you.


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Stephanie Haws

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.
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