The Automated Export System (AES) is an internet-based system for sending electronic export information. It is hosted on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), the agency’s platform for processing international trade data. A successfully filed shipment in AES receives a 14-digit number called an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) from Customs and Border Protection. This number is sent by email to the export filer and is needed in certain circumstances to clear Customs at the U.S. port of export.
What circumstances? You must file an export shipment to get an AES ITN when one of the below conditions apply.
- A product being shipped, as identified by an individual Schedule B/Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) commodity number, exceeds $2,500 in value and is going to a foreign destination (not including Canada).
- All used, self-propelled vehicles regardless of value or destination. Such shipments must be filed 72 hours prior to export.
- The shipment is between the United States and one of the U.S. territories Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands when an individual Schedule B/HTS item’s value exceeds $2,500. (Shipments between the U.S. and American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Howland Islands, and Wake Island do not have to be filed.)
- The shipment, regardless of value, is transported under an export license issued by a U.S. Government agency. This applies for shipments destined for Canada and for carnets. The most common export licenses are those issued by the State Department and the Department of Commerce.
- The shipment, regardless of value, is subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), including shipments otherwise exempt from licensing requirements and including shipments to Canada.
- The shipment, regardless of value, contains rough diamonds (under HTS 7102.10, 7102.21 and 7102.31), including shipments to Canada.
- A shipment (regardless of value) is destined to a US Department of Commerce authorized Validated End User (VEU); or
- A shipment (regardless of value other than personal correspondence or business records) is destined to restricted countries such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
For instances in which you would not need to file for an ITN, see here for a list of AES exemptions.
Exporters using the U.S. Postal Service are required to file electronic export information (EEI) if the entire shipment is valued over $2,500 (per Schedule B) or if it requires an export license. The exporter should submit the ITN or exemption citation to the post office. If using the U.S. Postal Service online, the ITN should be typed into the blank field on the customs information page within the “Enter export information” box.
A shipment takes place when merchandise is sent from an exporter to one consignee in a single country of destination, on a single conveyance (boat, plane, truck, railway), on the same day.
You can find more specifics on when to file in the U.S. Foreign Trade Regulations.