Skip to Content

APHIS Toolkit

On January 25, 2021, ACE filing will be mandatory for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)-Core PGA Message set. The NCBFAA RAC has assembled these resources all in one place for brokers to use as you prepare for implementation. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to get started now. An important part of your preparation will be to educate importers and employees as to what is and is not regulated.


For tariff subheadings flagged with an AQ-2: you must file an APHIS-Core Message Set.

For tariff subheadings flagged with an AQ-1: you may be required to file an APHIS-Core Message Set in ACE. Or, you may not, in which case you file a disclaim. To figure this out, you will need information about the product from the importer and then consider APHIS requirements for that commodity.

After that, it is a matter of getting comfortable with the APHIS data elements. We suggest you carefully review the Supplemental Trade Guide, shown below, and watch the Webinars, also with a link provided below. We hope the following resources will help. If you have additional questions, let us know at:

Understanding APHIS-Core Import Requirements

APHIS is responsible, in part, for ensuring the free flow of agricultural trade by keeping U.S. agricultural industries free from pests and diseases. The range of commodities subject to APHIS-Core import requirements is very broad, covering plants and plant products, seeds, animal products and miscellaneous processed products. Some of the commodities are obvious: plants for planting, seeds, cut flowers or live dogs. Others are not so obvious (certain straw hats, used farm equipment, feathers for stuffing, or certain gelatin products, for example) and will require diligence on the part of brokers and importers to determine when the APHIS-Core Message Set is required in ACE.


The Harmonized Tariff Schedule flags (AQ-1 or AQ-2) over 2000 subheadings that contain or may contain APHIS-Core regulated products. For AQ-1 flagged products, where the APHIS-Core PGA Message Set may or may not be required, the general rule is: if a license, permit, certificate or other (LPCO) document is required, then a PGA Message set must be filed in ACE. If no LPCO is required by APHIS, then a disclaim is filed. Often, this may depend upon the country where the product originated or the particular material or ingredients used to produce the product.

This means you will need to have an understanding of APHIS requirements so you can determine whether to file a disclaim or a PGA Message Set. Following are resources on APHIS’ website that will help you in this effort.

Comment from the RAC

"APHIS-Core is one of the most challenging PGA Message Sets for brokers. Up until now, most brokers were not part of the APHIS-Core related information flow, since APHIS-Core documents were in paper form and passed on to CBP-Ag by the carrier. Adding to the complexity, many of the data elements are unfamiliar to brokers - such as the genus and species. So, it is tough, but stay with it. It will eventually make sense."

APHIS-Core ACE PGA Message Set

Supplemental Trade Guide - Appendix APH-A: This guide is essentially a "job aid" aimed at separating the operational data entry concepts from the technical aspects of the APHIS Message sets. Much of this information was generated as a result of questions or recommendations by trade to produce material explaining the APHIS Message Set in a less technical way. This resource is a good first step towards understanding the APHIS-Core PGA Message Set.

APHIS-Core ACE PGA Message Set Implementation Guide

This is a very detailed, technical implementation guide, providing explicit line-by-line instructions for transmitting the APHIS-Core Message Set. However, if you dig into the guide you can find full APHIS Core examples for each product category, tables of errors with correction guidance, and diagrams/flow charts for different PG lines and categories. If you are looking for a more user-friendly resource, go to the Supplemental Trade Guide above.

Other Useful Resources

  1. Appendix C List of Foreign Countries and Their Disease. Table C-1-1
  2. Abbreviations used to describe the disease status categories



NCBFAA partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on a series of webinars to help the Trade navigate the upcoming implementation of the APHIS Core Message Set in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The webinars - six in all - cover a wide range of APHIS-regulated products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, animal products, miscellaneous and processed products, seeds not for planting, and plants for planting. More recently, the RAC held a Team of Experts webinar featuring customs brokers who have been filing the APHIS-Core Message Set for over a year and provide valuable insight into navigating these complex requirements.

Attendees to NCBFAA's APHIS Team of Experts webinar posed a number of questions to panelists. We submitted those questions to APHIS and the answers can be found  here. To view a PowerPoint copy of the presentation, please  click here. The video archive of the webinar may be found  here. The NCBFAA Regulatory Agencies Committee (RAC) invites you to submit additional questions that you may have as you prepare for APHIS implementation of the mandatory ACE filing requirements. We will provide answers from APHIS in future MMBs. Send your questions to: