The Vessel Entrance and Clearance System (VECS) will be a complete digitization and automation of the Entrance and Clearance process. VECS will allow vessel masters, operators, and agents to submit certain vessel entry and clearance data and requests to CBP electronically, instead of submitting paper forms, as currently required by CBP regulations. Specifically, this VECS will allow participants to submit the data required on CBP Forms 26, 226, 1300, 1302, 1303, 1304, and 3171 electronically through VECS prior to arrival or departure from designated ports.
CBP will begin testing in Gulfport, MS. Upon completion of live environment testing there, CBP will then begin to rollout out VECS at subsequent ports during the course of the 2-year pilot test. As ports are added to the pilot, CBP HQ will work with local Field Offices and Ports to coordinate training for both CBP field personnel and vessel agents.
Vessel Agency Account
The Vessel Agency Account Federal Register Notice (FRN) will announce the new Vessel Agency Account type within ACE. The Vessel Agency account will allow vessel agents to log in to a web portal within ACE and be passed over to VECS. Each vessel agency will need to have a vessel agency top account within ACE, and each vessel agent will need to have their own user account/profile to access VECS. Anyone who wishes to participate in the pilot must sign up for and have a Vessel Agency Account in ACE. This will be spelled out in both FRNs. As soon as the Vessel Agency Account FRN is published (or soon thereafter) you will have the ability to sign up and there will not be a cutoff date. For more information about ACE Portal accounts and getting started with ACE, please visit the Getting Started with CBP Automated Systems page.
Creating a Vessel Agency Account
Before creating the ACE Vessel Agency Account:
- Check for an existing ACE account, by inquiring up to your local, regional, and national management. Do you have an existing ACE Top Account?
- If yes, check if you have an existing Importer Account
- If you have an Importer Account skip to Step 3 below.
- .An Importer Account is not required, but if you have an Importer Account, use the same IR# for your Vessel Agency Account.
- If you do not have a Top Account, you will need to fill out the ACE Secure Data Portal Application and complete the following sections:
- Section A. Account Information
- Part 2 f. for Vessel Agency
- If you do not have an Importer Account, use your company’s EIN / TID. Do not use an IR# or it will cause an error.
- Section A. Account Information
- Section B. Account Owner (AO) Designation
- Section C. Point of Contact (POC) for the Account
- Section D. Authorization and Acknowledgement
- Send the application to ACEAPPLICATIONS@cbp.dhs.gov
- Once an ACE Top account exists, please check for “Vessel Agency” in the Account Type drop-down and follow the steps for creating the new sub account.
- See Topic 2 in the guide below.
- Follow the steps in the Quick Reference Guide: Vessel Account Type to:
- Topic 2: Create Vessel Agency Account
- Topic 3: Create a New User
- Topic 4: Add Existing Users to an Account
- Topic 5: Add/Edit a Vessel Agency Account Contact
- Topic 6: Edit Vessel Agency Addresses
- All vessel agents who will file Entrance and Clearance information in VECS will need to be created as Users (Topic 3 above) and added to the Vessel Agency Account (Topic 4 above).
- To ensure full and complete access, please:
- have each user login,
- expand the [+] Account in the bottom left,
- click on the vessel agency sub-account that displays,
- check for and click the “Launch VECS” button on the right side of the page.
Please include OFO-MANIFESTBRANCH@cbp.dhs.gov on any emails to ACEAPPLICATIONS@cbp.dhs.gov
Vessel Agency Account Federal Register Notice - July 2022
Vessel Entrance and Clearance Automation Test – November 2022
Vessel Entrance and Clearance System Trade Information Notice
VECS and the Pilot
The Maritime Forms Automation VECS Test FRN will be the “VECS Pilot” and will outline the particulars of the pilot. We will start at a single, small, port to begin the pilot so we can do some initial testing of the live system, and then we will expand port by port until all seaports across the country are on the pilot. The pilot is expected to run for 2 years in order to get all agencies and ports onboard and to allow time for regulatory updates.
VECS Deployed Ports
|Port||Port Code||Operational Date|
|Panama City, Florida||1818||04/20/2023|
|Los Angeles/Long Beach||2704/2709||TBD|
CBP will provide training to the port personnel AND to the vessel agents at each port as we expand. CBP will also be providing training materials to the vessel agents (and will also be made available on this page) and will have local or regional CBP subject matter experts to help with any questions. After the initial training, it will be up to the vessel agencies to train any new vessel agents, or ones who could not attend the training, utilizing the training materials provided and the local/regional subject matter experts.
Electronic vs. Paper Filings
Since it will be a pilot and regulations will still allow for paper filing, CBP won’t be requiring each entrance and clearance to be filed through VECS, but it will be strongly encouraged. One of the reasons for this is that VECS is going to be an ever-growing system with new capabilities as the pilot expands and not all ports will be on the pilot in the early days. Some ports, or some filings, will still require paper until all ports and all functions are built-in.
Vessel Operators and Vessel Agents should begin uploading their vessel certificates to DIS. Even if your port is not yet part of the pilot, beginning the process of uploading the vessel certificates will reduce the burden of this requirement later when CBP initiates the pilot in your port.
Please see the linked instructions below for submitting vessel certificates to DIS.
For any questions on vessel certificate submission, please contact OFO-MANIFESTBRANCH@cbp.dhs.gov.