How to get an EIN for AES filing

This is for individuals, rather than businesses, who are stuck in their attempt to file in the Automated Export System (AES).

Non-U.S. residents in the United States at the time of purchase may ignore this. You may use your foreign passport number in AES (although you can’t open an account yourself).

However, if you reside in the United States and are exporting something (i.e. are being listed as the “United States Prinipal Party in Interest/USPPI” on an export), you must first get an employer identification number (EIN) before filing in AES. Social security numbers are not allowed. This applies even if you are just you, an individual, and are not acting on behalf of a business.

Yes, you have to get an EIN even if an authorized agent or customs broker is filing in AES on your behalf.

No, this won’t affect your dealings with the IRS. EINs are in fact created by the IRS and are typically used for tax identification purposes, but consider. First, when applying for the EIN as an individual (see below) you will clearly indicate that you are only using this number for “fulfilling federal requirements.” Second, information filed in AES about your export is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, not the IRS. The Census Bureau, when establishing this rule in 2010 stated that “[u]se of the EIN in the AES is strictly for identification purposes, and information entered into the AES is not disclosed to the IRS.”

The process for getting an EIN as an individual for AES purposes is easy. It takes about 15 minutes online.  Here is how.


1. Go to the IRS website at Click “Apply for an Employer ID Number.”



2. Click at the bottom to apply online.



3. Begin the EIN application.



4. Here is a tricky part. You’ll have to choose “sole proprietor” as it the closest thing to an individual.



5. Again, an applicant who is an individual, not a business, will select “sole proprietor.”



6. Click continue.



7. Choose “started a new business” as it is the best-fit option for getting an employer identification number, although you may not actually be an employer.



8. The red asterisks (*) indicate required fields.



9. Enter your address.



10. Again, note the red asterisks. Your name will automatically appear where it says “name of sole proprietor.”



11. None of these things situations apply to you, do they?



12. Individuals applying for an EIN to file in AES will want to select “other” here. It is the bottommost choice on the page.



13. Select “other” again. Then in the blank space beside it, type in “fulfilling federal requirements.”



14. If you opt to receive the letter online, your EIN number will instantly pop up on your computer screen.



If you would like a second opinion on how to get an EIN online you may consult these instructions made by the U.S. Census Bureau. It shows an older version of the IRS website.

You now have an EIN and are one step closer to successful filing in AES.

AES changes due to new export control reform initiative

The Bureau of Industry and Security put out new rules effective December 30, 2014.  Certain military electronics, certain superconducting and cryogenic equipment, and related items were taken off the United States Munitions List (USML) and instead put on the Commerce Control List (CCL).

What this means for filing in the Automated Export System (AES):

ECCNs 3A611, 3B611, 3D611, 3E611, 9A620, 9B620, 9D620, and 9E620 will be added to the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) “600 series” reference tables.  If you use any of the license exceptions or special comprehensive license type codes, you are certifying that the terms, provisions, and conditions described in the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) have been met.

AES License Type Codes Edits and Validations

  • C30 (BIS license), C31 (BIS Special Comprehensive License), C40 (TMP), C41 (RPL), C42 (GOV), and C59 (STA): All “600 series” ECCNs are eligible as permitted under parts 740 and 752 of the export administration regulations (EAR) and the CCL.
  • C32 (NLR with a reason for control other than or in addition to AT): All “600 series” ECCNs created under this final rule are eligible if exported to Canada. Some of these were previously authorized under an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) Canadian exemption (SCA).
  • C35 (LVS): eligible ECCNs are 3A611, 3B611, 9A620, and 9B620.
  • C44 (TSU): ECCNs eligible under part 740 of the EAR are 3D611, 3E611, 9D620, and 9E620.
  • C60 (DY6): ECCNs eligible under part 740 of the EAR are 3A611, 3D611, and 3E611.

If the “600 series” ECCNs are reported under any other AES license type code, AES will generate a fatal error 666 “ECCN MUST BE FROM APPROVED LIST”.

With the exception of “600 series” .y paragraph exports under AES license type code C60, an AES filing is required for exports of items classified under “600 series” ECCNs, regardless of the value of the item or destination.

A complete list of all of the AES License Type codes and reporting instructions for these types can be found here.

How the U.S. ranks internationally in its import and export procedures

The United States is the seventh best environment to do business in overall according to the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings. Getting credit and resolving insolvency are two of the United States’ strong points, helping it score above Canada at 16th place and Mexico at 39th. Here are the top ten countries for doing business according to the World Bank.

Top countries for ease of doing business

  1. Singapore
  2. New Zealand
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Denmark
  5. South Korea
  6. Norway
  7. United States
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Finland
  10. Australia

In terms of trading across borders the United States rates 16th internationally, just ahead of Mauritius. In the U.S. the number of documents required to export or import are comparatively low, as are the number of days for this procedure.

Top countries for trading across borders

  1. Singapore
  2. Hong Kong
  3. South Korea
  4. Sweden
  5. Ireland
  1. United Kingdom
  2. United States
  3. Mauritius
  1. Canada
  1. Mexico

What sets the U.S. back from the top spots are costs. The cost per container is over USD 1,000 for both imports and exports, well above some of the highest ranking countries according to the World Bank. These costs include those incurred in the course of preparing documentation, administrative fees for customs clearance and technical control, customs broker fees, terminal handling charges and inland transport.

US international ranking in trade procedures

Source: World Bank Ease of Doing Business

The United States fell one place in terms of trading across borders from last year’s World Bank rankings, suggesting there is room for improvement.

What is considered a used vehicle when filing in the Automated Export System?

Using the Automated Export System (AES), the online system for filing U.S. exports, can be tricky because the meanings of its terms aren’t always the same as the vernacular. A striking example of this is with “used vehicles.”

To most people a used vehicle is an older car, something that’s been driven around a bit, has a scratch or two from the perils of grocery store parking lots, and smells like a lingering combination of air fresheners and fast food — long gone is the pristine new car smell.

Well, yes, AES too considers that a used vehicle. However, it also says that any passenger motor vehicle not purchased directly from the manufacturer is “used.” From U.S. Customs and Border Protection “‘used’ refers to any self-propelled vehicle the equitable or legal title to which has been transferred by a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer to an ultimate purchaser.”

Furthermore, many other contraptions are “used vehicles” according to AES. In fact there are 165 Schedule B/HTS classifications labeled as used vehicles when filing in AES, although only 17 of these have “used” explicitly stated in their product descriptions.

Besides passenger motor vehicles not direct from the manufacturer, these machines fall in AES’ used vehicle category even if they are fresh off the assembly line.

  • Snowmobiles
  • Golf carts
  • Ambulances
  • Hearses
  • Motor homes
  • Motorcycles
  • Tractors for semi-trailers
  • Track-laying tractors
  • Log skidders
  • Agricultural tractors
  • Dump trucks
  • Tracked vehicles
  • Mobile cranes and derricks
  • Concrete mixers
  • Fork-lifts
  • Bulldozers
  • Road rollers
  • Shovel-loaders
  • Pile-drivers
  • Snowplows
  • Self-propelled rock cutters
  • Balers
  • Threshers
  • Harvesters
  • Riding lawn mowers

The product classification numbers for these and all 165 used vehicles are in the Automated Export System Trade Interface Requirements, Appendix U.

When filing these in AES, extra information is required to include the product ID or serial number, plus the title and title state, if applicable.

More importantly, the export information must be filed, and an ITN obtained, 72 hours before reaching the border per the more stringent requirements for used vehicles. The same applies to those destined to Canada, a situation where most non-used vehicle exports are exempt from filing.

So just put up a new pine tree air freshener, file in AES three days in advance, and that golf cart is ready for export.

Turkey’s exports to Syria rise amid conflict

The crisis in Syria has devastated its economy, including the country’s standing in international trade. Syrian trade peaked in 2010 at a value of USD 31 billion, only to fall to a mere USD 9 billion in 2013. Border crossings have become insecure and previous trade partners have gone to more stable locations to do business.

Syria imports and exports 2009 to 2013

Source: UN Comtrade

That is, with one exception: Turkey. Turkey’s exports to Syria doubled in value from 2012 to 2013. In doing so the country supplanted China as the top exporter to Syria. And in 2014, despite hostile forces coming within a mile of the Turkish border, traders have found a market for their goods in Syria, most notably in July where exports spiked above USD 300 million.

Turkey monthly exports to Syria 2013 to 2014

Source: Turkish Statistical Institute

The reason for this rise in Turkey-Syria trade appears to be food. Conflict has disrupted Syrian agriculture, and Turkish food suppliers, enticed by higher prices, have rushed to fill the void. They may be some of the only beneficiaries of the fighting.

Correcting shipments in AES and compliance alerts

Exporters are required to file accurate electronic export information, and to make corrections in AES as new circumstances arise and mistakes are found which need to be changed. However, those who file in the Automated Export System are often concerned that changing previously submitted shipments will cause an error, namely a compliance alert. If triggered, these alerts then appear in a monthly report distributed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Yet for most of the fields in AES, filers can make corrections without causing a compliance alert.

The key to knowing what fields can and cannot be corrected after the departure date is the Automated Export System Trade Interface Requirements, Appendix A. Although buried within and somewhat cryptic, here is the gist of the AESTIR as it pertains to compliance alerts for most exporters.

What fields will cause a compliance alert if changed after the date of export

Shipment information section

  • Departure date, if revised to an earlier date
  • Shipment reference number; this can’t be changed, and attempting to do so will cause a host of problems

U.S. principal party of interest (USPPI) section

  • ID number (EIN or foreign entity)

Commodity line(s)

  • Adding commodity lines
  • Deleting commodity lines
  • Any change to the used vehicle section
  • Value, if the commodity falls under a license
  • License value (different than value above)
  • License type
  • Export license number

Generally, AES anything related to a licensed export is more heavily scrutinized in AES.

What fields will not cause a compliance alert if changed

  • Transportation reference number
  • Origin state
  • Foreign trade zone
  • Port of export
  • Country of destination
  • Port of unlading
  • Departure date, if revised to a later date
  • Mode of transport
  • Carrier SCAC/IATA
  • Conveyance name
  • Inbond type
  • Import entry number
  • Routed transaction radio button
  • USPPI and ultimate consignee related companies radio button
  • Hazardous shipment radio button
  • USPPI company name
  • USPPI contact information
  • Address of cargo origin
  • All fields for the ultimate consignee, intermediate consignee and freight forwarder
  • Commodity classification number (Schedule B or HTS)
  • Commodity description
  • Quantity
  • Value (if commodity does not fall under a license)
  • Gross weight
  • Export code
  • Domestic or foreign origin of goods

Keep in mind that avoiding a compliance alert in AES and achieving full regulatory compliance are two different matters. Filers should not abstain from making accurate changes. Furthermore, there are alerts called “fatal errors,” which might occur concurrently with compliance alerts. See the AESTIR and U.S. Foreign Trade Regulations for the specifics relating to your shipment.

And, of course, it is always better to file your electronic export information early, accurately and according to regulations – error free – the first time.

UPS to increase international shipping rates in 2015

Effective December 29 of this year, UPS will increase rates on a variety of services by 4.9 percent.

A surcharge for international shipments will increase $2.00 or $0.02 per pound.

The residential surcharge for U.S. UPS air and UPS international air shipments imported to the U.S. or destined to Canada and billed to a U.S. payer will increase $0.15. UPS hundredweight shipments and and UPS worldwide express shipments will see surcharge increases of $1.30 and $10.00, respectively.

It is unknown at this time if UPS’ fee for filing electronic export information via its shipper’s export declaration services will be affected.

E.U. food exports to Russia down 40 percent in August after sanctions

As a result of Russian sanctions on the West, food* exports from the European Union to Russia fell from EUR 632 million in July to EUR 375 million in August this year.

EU monthly exports to Russia, 2013-2014 in million Euros

Source: Eurostat

Total exports for the year are down compared to 2013. Weaker sales of manufactured goods from the European Union to Russia — not reduced food exports — are the primary cause, as food and live animals comprise a disproportionately small part of this trade flow.

EU exports to Russia by category 2013, percentages

Source: Eurostat

European Union imports from Russia too are down in 2014, although this is because of the declining price of oil rather than administrative action on the part of the E.U.


*SITC section 0.

Effect of sanctions on U.S.-Russia trade

The effect of reciprocal sanctions between the U.S. and Russia hasn’t lived up to its hype, at least not yet.

The United States has steadily increased the severity of sanctions imposed on Russia since March of this year after Russia annexed Crimea. The first executive orders targeted individuals, primarily Russian officials. Later in July, sanctions were extended to include a handful of Russian energy companies and financial firms. In turn, in early August Russia announced that it would ban imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy from the United States and other Western countries.

Despite such administrative actions, U.S.-Russia trade has not experienced a substantial decline. American imports from Russia dipped slightly in August, yet did not fall below the value from the same month a year ago, prior to sanctions.

U.S. monthly imports from Russia 2013-2014

Source: USA Trade Online

Exports slid more, to levels just below those set last year. A decrease in food* exports to Russia contributed to this, but besides items such as frozen chicken, pork and fish, American exports have not suffered significantly from Russia’s embargo.

U.S. montly exports to Russia 2013-2014

Source: USA Trade Online

But with the U.S. furthering the reach of its sanctions in September to include more Russian industries, and with no end in sight to the conflict in the Ukraine, the greatest impact from these accumulating restrictions on U.S.-Russia trade may be yet to come.


*sections 1-4 of the Harmonized System

How much is exported from the U.S. under the low value exemption?

The short answer: a lot.

Most exports from the United States under $2,500 in value leave the country under the exemption “NO EEI 30.37(a) and are not required to be filed with the government. Couriers such as USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL handle much of this low value trade. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the total value of these shipments and tallies them in their export statistics. In 2013, low value exports amounted to $28 billion, roughly equal to the gross domestic product of Paraguay.

United States non-Canadian low value estimate exports

Source: USA Trade Online

Unsurprisingly, the most common destination for these low value shipments is the United States’ southern neighbor, Mexico. The presence of Gibraltar in the top ten, however, is a surprise.

United States low value exports by country 2013

Source: USA Trade Online

Keep in mind that this low value estimation does not include Canada. Low value exports from the United States to Canada are classified separately. Low value shipments, as with most shipments to Canada, travel under the “NO EEI 30.36” exemption as there is no monetary threshold on the U.S. side to distinguish low value from high for shipments across its northern border.

The Canadian low value estimate comes directly from the Canadian government as part of a U.S.-Canada data exchange. Canada defines its low value imports differently than the United States does its low value exports. As such, the Canadian and non-Canadian low value estimates are not directly comparable.

United States exports to Canada 2004 - 2013

Source: USA Trade Online

Although calculated differently, at $6.7 billion in 2013, the Canadian low value estimate is close to that of Mexico. Added to the total for other countries yields $34.7 billion in low value goods exported from the United States in 2013, about 2 percent of all exports.