By Kristine Kelleher

The Foreign Trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau is the official source for U.S. export and import statistics.  This agency is responsible for issuing regulations governing the reporting of all export shipments from the United States.  Any exporter who ships outside of the United States is responsible for complying with these regulations and for filing (directly or via third parties) Electronic Export Information (“EEI”) in the Automated Export System (“AES”) for each eligible shipment.

Let’s break down the steps you need to consider when making an export and filing the correct EEI.

I have an export.  Now what?

Below are some simple steps to help you determine the best way to proceed and comply with Census requirements:

Step 1:  Determine if your shipment fits into one of the buckets below.  If so, proceed to Step 2 to see if your shipment qualifies for an AES filing.

  • U.S. to a foreign country
  • U.S. to U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico to a foreign country
  • Puerto Rico to U.S. Virgin Islands

Step 2:  When is an AES Required?  If your shipment meets any of the following criteria, you will need to file EEI within AES:

  1. The shipment has a single item with one HTS Code/Schedule B Number over $2,500 in value;
  2. The shipment exports against an export license or export license exception / exemption;
  3. The total value (in U.S. dollars) of the items that share an HTS Code are $2,500 or greater. (If not, then an AES filing is not required – even if the total value of the shipment is over $2,500; unless it is against an export license, export license exception / exemption).
  4. If the shipment has two or more of the same HTS codes, those line items are to be grouped together by either Foreign or Domestic Country of Origin. This means if there are two HTS codes that are the same, but one has a United States country of origin and the other is any foreign country of origin, they would not be grouped together. Once the line items with the same HTS code are grouped together (either foreign or domestic), add them together to determine if a filing is required.

Step 3:  I need to file an AES.  Now what?

Exporters have the option to either file their EEI directly within AES (free of charge), or hire a third party to do so on their behalf. Third parties can be freight forwarders, brokers, or other consultants/firms with the Power of Attorney to make an AES filing on behalf of your organization.

This feels overwhelming.  Do I have to?

The short answer is, yes.  It’s required by law.  Some might ask, “What happens if I just make the shipment without the required AES filing?”  Missing or inaccurate filings are likely to be held by U.S. Customs.  This can cause delays, fines, and penalties for violating U.S. export laws.  It also impacts negatively on the exporter’s reputation with customers.

Speaking of penalties, anything new?

As a matter of fact, yes!  To account for inflation, the U.S. Government has increased the maximum potential fines for EEI/AES violations as follows:

Bureau of Census Collection of Foreign Trade Statistics

  • Penalties for late AES filings are now $1,696 per day; with the maximum per violation increasing to $16,971;
  • All other AES violations (13 USC §304 and 13 USC §305(b)) are now $16,971.

Need help learning AES, auditing your entries or making a filing?  Let our team of experts show you how to avoid problems down the road.

Kristine Kelleher is a Trade Compliance Consultant for Export Solutions -- a full-service consulting firm specializing in U.S. import and export regulations.