|This article is part of the Shipment Release Types Guide|
PAPS (Pre-Arrival Processing System) is a U.S. Shipment Type for goods to clear through CBP and in ACE Manifest. It is the default shipment type for commercial goods entering the United States by truck. That is, any goods transported to the United States by a highway carrier must clear under PAPS unless they qualify for another shipment type or other exemption.
PAPS was designed to expedite the release of commercial shipments while still processing each shipment through CBP's automated risking systems.
PAPS depends on the use of PAPS Numbers, a type of Shipment Control Number which the carrier assigns to a shipment requiring pre-arrival clearance. PAPS numbers cannot be reused for at least 3 years. Often the carrier will have PAPS Stickers printed in sequence in order to physically ensure that any given number cannot be reused by mistake. A PAPS Number must begin with the carrier's SCAC, and be followed by at least 4 characters (letters or numbers.)
The PAPS process begins when the carrier picks up a shipment. The carrier assigns a unique PAPS number to the shipment and advises the Customs Broker of the number being used, typically by affixing a PAPS Sticker or handwriting the PAPS number on the paperwork provided by the shipper, and faxing it to the broker. The broker then prepares and entry requesting the release of the goods by CBP, referencing the PAPS number provided by the carrier. The carrier prepares an ACE eManifest listing the same PAPS number for the shipment. Once CBP accepts the broker's entry and the carrier's eManifest, the carrier can move the goods to the border. The PAPS number will serve as the common element between the broker's entry and the carrier's eManifest submission, so that the officer can tie them together and make the decision to release the goods or refer them for inspection.
Declaring a PAPS Shipment in ACE eManifest
PAPS shipments are required to be declared on an ACE eManifest. To report a PAPS shipment the carrier will need to create an ACE Shipment designated as PAPS and ensure that the shipment is transmitted as part of their ACE eManifest. The example below shows how to report PAPS shipments using BorderConnect's ACE eManifest software.
When entering a PAPS shipment in ACE, the carrier should take special care to make sure that the PAPS Number entered exactly matches the PAPS Number provided to the Customs Broker. Failure to do so can result in delays at the border. In addition to being reported on the eManifest, each PAPS declaration must be accompanied formal entry filed a Customs Broker. The carrier must ensure that the Customs Broker has cleared the PAPS prior to the driver's arrival at the border. This can be verified directly on the carrier's eManifest, the broker's entry numbers will be displayed there for the carrier.
- CBP description of PAPS https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/719/~/pre-arrival-processing-system-(paps)