The Automated Manifest System (AMS) is an electronic transmission system that provides paperwork to US customs authorities before freight arrives.
Initially, the AMS was designed to minimize the time required to import cargo into the US. The system is now also designed to keep freight under inspection and guarantee the safety of goods imported by the US. If all the AMS customs criteria for documentation aren't met within the deadline set by the US customs, the importer may incur a hefty fee. Besides, the cargo would be detained at customs clearance.

What is an AMS Filing?

AMS filing is a document submitted to the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that lists all goods shipped to the country. Every freight forwarder has to file this paperwork 24 hours before the ship's departure from the port of shipment.

The US government introduced AMS filing in 2004 to maintain the security and safety of its imports. The AMS system is used to track freight and identify possible security threats.

The system applies to all modes of transportation, including air, rail, and land, in addition to maritime transit of goods. It provides information about the carrier, freight forwarder, importer, exporter, the departure, arrival, and release of goods.

Who is Required to File AMS?

The AMS needs to be filed by the Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) or the freight forwarder at the export port. The freight forwarder is responsible for any discrepancies in the provided information. Moreover, they can be subject to heavy fines of up to US$ 10,000 as well.

AMS Details and Requirements

The paperwork contains two distinct parts listing cargo information:-

1. Cargo reporting before loading: According to 10+2 requirements, carriers must submit an Importer Security Filing (ISF), along with two additional documents at least 24 hours before shipping the cargo. Alternatively, the transporter may submit only five ISF data components if the items are in transit.

2. Conveyance report before arrival: Forwarders must file customs entry filings before the ship arrives at the destination port, using information from the house bill of lading (BOL) and commercial invoice.

Checklist for AMS filing:-

  • A detailed description of the cargo, including the quantity of goods
  • Complete names and addresses of the shipping party and the consignee
  • Container identification number
  • Container seal number (the serial number of the most recent seal used during the loading of the container)
  • Date of arrival in the US
  • Hazardous material code
  • The last foreign port before the vessel departs for the US
  • The first foreign port of entry where the carrier receives goods
  • The port of loading
  • Vessel name, number, country of documentation, Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC), and the voyage number
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When to File an AMS?

One should file an AMS at least 24 hours before the departure of the goods from the port origin. Failure to comply with this timeline can lead to penalties and fines imposed by US customs.

It is important to note that filing an AMS can be complicated in some cases when cargo is transloaded. In such a circumstance, the AMS must be filed at the last foreign port of transloading.

For instance, when cargo from India is bound for San Francisco, it may be transloaded in between the passage, for example, in Hong Kong. The country of origin for this consignment is India, and the destination port is San Francisco, whereas Hong Kong is listed as the ‘last foreign port.’

Customs requires AMS to be submitted at least 24 hours before the cargo's departure from its final foreign port. To avoid penalties and fines, the freight forwarder must file AMS at least 24 hours before the consignment departs from Hong Kong.

How to Register AMS Filing?

Steps to register AMS filings on the CBP website:-

  1. Select the manifest(AMS) menu and start a new transaction.
  2. Enter all the requested details, such as the broker reference number, shipper reference number, client information, and bill, to the party.
  3. Click on the open AMS button and start an AMS filing from scratch.
  4. Start an AMS manifest tab and enter all of the requested details, including the container name, country of origin, port of unloading, etc.
  5. Next, choose the bills of lading (BOL) tab and add the BOL. Enter the BOL number, its status, foreign port of lading, the original city of origin, the gross weight, SCAC code (mandatory for NVOCC), etc.
  6. Add the container information. Choose NC for non-containerized freight.
  7. Finally, select the equipment inventory tab to enter empty containers, if any.
  8. Select save and mark the AMS filing as complete.

One can also print and email the manifest from the website.

How do I Check my AMS Status?

The freight status information option was added to Air AMS to allow the CBP entry filer or freight forwarder supplying advance house shipment information to receive cargo details and updates during transaction processing.

The Freight Status Notification (FSN) message, which is delivered to the cargo custodian, authorizes the movement or release of goods. Whereas, the freight status information is merely for information exchange.

Air AMS communications are largely undertaken through Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated (ARINC) and SITA; A multinational information technology company providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry. . Communication networks can also be established using one of the permitted CBP communication options. These options are detailed on the CBP connectivity information page.

What is the Difference between AMS, ISF, and ACE?

The AMS filing lists all the goods imported by the US from a specific country and all of its particulars, such as the consignee/shipping details. On the other hand, the ISF requires the freight forwarder to furnish all the shipping details of the cargo imported to a country. The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), previously known as the Automated Commercial System (ACS), is a system that the trade community uses to register imports and exports with the US CBP. The ACE enhances the processing, gathering, and exchange of information to the CBP and other federal agencies.


What are AMS Charges?

An electronic information transfer system for air and ocean shipments, the AMS is run by the US CBP. The AMS charges or fees are calculated based on the BOL or the airway bill.

Which Countries require AMS Filing?

The US, Canada, Mexico, China, and Japan require AMS filings for all imported goods for security purposes. All countries must file the AMS at least 24 hours before the cargo is loaded onto the ship.

What is the AMS Filing by NVOCC?

US CBP regulations require NVOCCs to file cargo manifests with the CBP before loading a container. This rule applies to any cargo that will arrive in the US.

In the case of an FMC-registered or licensed NVOCC, they may file the cargo manifest with CBP directly. Alternatively, they can have the cargo manifest filed on their behalf by an automated third party or an ocean carrier. In any instance, the NVOCC is the regulated party required to furnish the cargo manifest details at the house BOL level.

What is the AMS Bill of Lading?

The NVOCC issues the BOL from the supplier to the consignee. The NVOCC can send the house BOL data necessary for the 24-hour AMS filing if it is an AMS participant. This data is electronically linked to the carrier's master BOL on the customs AMS manifest. The NVOCC's SCAC code is included in an NVOCC AMS house BOL.