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.
The Maritime Forms Automation VECS Test Federal Register Notice (FRN) will be the “VECS Pilot” and will outline the particulars of the pilot. VECS started on February 21, 2023, at a single, low traffic port for initial testing of the live system and has expanded to the ports listed below. CBP will continue to add ports until all seaports across the country are on the pilot. 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. The pilot is expected to run for 2 years in order to get all ports and vessel agencies onboard and to allow time for regulatory updates.
VECS Deployed Ports
|Los Angeles, CA||2704|
|Long Beach, CA||2709|
|Port Hueneme, CA||2713|
|San Diego, CA||2501|
|Green Bay, WI||3703|
|Port Huron, MI||3802|
|Sault Ste. Marie, MI||3803|
|Saginaw/Bay City, MI||3804|
|Battle Creek, MI||3805|
|Grand Rapids, MI||3806|
|Rogers City, MI||3818|
|De Tour, MI||3819|
|Mackinaw City, MI||3820|
|Presque Isle, MI||3842|
|Panama City, FL||1818|
|Fernandina Beach, FL||1805|
|St. Augustine, FL||1889|
|New Haven, CT||0412|
|New London, CT||0413|
|New Bedford, MA||0405|
|Fall River, MA||0407|
|Bar Harbor, ME||0112|
|New York, NY||1001|
|Perth Amboy, NJ||4602|
|Baton Rouge, LA||2004|
|Lake Charles, LA||2017|
|Morgan City, LA||2001|
|New Orleans, LA||2002|
CBP is providing training to CBP field personnel AND to vessel agencies at each port as we expand. CBP is also providing training materials to vessel agents and will have local or regional CBP subject matter experts to help with any questions. After the initial training, it will be up to 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 VECS is a pilot and regulations still allow for paper filing, CBP will not require each entrance and clearance to be filed through VECS, but it is 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 added.
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.
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
What you will need:
- ✔ ACE Top Account (Company level account)
- ✔ Vessel Agency sub-Account (sub-entity level specific to type of service)
- ✔ User Accounts (for each vessel agent)
- ✔ Get to the “Launch VECS” Button
Step 1: Do you have an ACE Top Account?
- YES – skip to Step 2 below.
- NO – fill out the ACE Secure Data Portal Application hyperlinked to https://www.cbp.gov/document/guidance/ace-secure-data-portal-account-application
- Complete the following:
- Account Information (Agency Information)
- Part 2f – Vessel Agency (EIN, TID/TIN, SSN or Importer #)
- Account Owner Designation (Management/Responsible Party)
- Point of Contact for the Account
- Authorization and Acknowledgement
- Submit the application to ACEAPPLICATIONS@cbp.dhs.gov and CC: OFO-MANIFESTBRANCH@cbp.dhs.gov
- Complete the following:
Step 2: Create your Vessel Agency Sub-Account.
- Follow the steps in Topic 2 of the Quick Reference Guide: Vessel Agency Account Type
Step 3: Create a New User.
- Follow the steps in Topic 3 from the above guide.
Step 4: Associate Users to Your Account.
- Follow the steps in Topic 4 from the above guide.
Step 5: Get to the "Launch VECS" Button.
- Login to your ACE Account.
Note: This process could take 1-2 weeks.
Please contact OFO-MANIFESTBRANCH@cbp.dhs.gov with any issues.
For any questions on vessel certificate submission, please contact OFO-MANIFESTBRANCH@cbp.dhs.gov.