Real Export Emergencies, Episode 3: Send an SOS to AES

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By: Nyitre Rodgers

Stories from the Real Export Emergencies

Scene: It’s December 20, 2010 and Jamel is anxiously awaiting his flight to Aruba. He recently completed his first semester of law school, and he’s excited to meet his significant other, Julienne, for a holiday get-away. This is sure to be the most memorable holiday ever! Last year at this time, Jamel selected and put a down payment on her engagement ring. On December 25th, he’ll ask for her hand in marriage and present her with the beautiful diamond ring (valued over $2500).

Narrator: It’s a day filled with excitement, December 21st has arrived and Jamel is expecting his special package to be delivered by Special Occasion Shippers (SOS) at any moment. But as the day progresses, he begins to get concerned because he hasn’t heard anything from the shipping company and his package was scheduled to be delivered by 11:00 am. So, he calls the company.

SOS: SOS, this is Pam, how may I help you?

Jamel: Hello Pam, my name is Jamel. I am calling in reference to a shipment that I am expecting. Prior to leaving the U.S., I scheduled an export through SOS and it was supposed to be delivered by 11:00 am today. I am becoming increasingly concerned because it’s almost 4:30 pm and I haven’t heard or seen anything. It is crucial that I receive this package.

SOS: Sir, I understand your concern. Please hold while I look into this. One moment please.

Narrator: On the other end of the phone Jamel paces while he awaits the news from Pam.

SOS: Sir, I am very glad you called. In my research, it looks as though your shipment was rejected! It received several fatal errors with the following response codes:




Jamel: Could you provide me with more detail as to the meaning of these codes and how to resolve them so that I can have my shipment expedited?

SOS: Sure, that is what I am here for. Each response code means something different. Response code 244 means that the format for the U.S. Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) phone number was not in the 10 digit format and we were not able to reach you. Response codes 316 and 326 mean that the Ultimate Consignee name and number formats, length of characters, or type of characters are not acceptable by the Automated Export System (AES).

Note: For a detailed listing of Fatal Errors and how to fix them, please go to the following link:

Commodity Filing Response Messages from

Follow the instructions to resolve the error and resubmit the shipment successfully.

Jamel: Once I correct the errors will SOS still be able to get the package here in time?

SOS: Yes, once you correct the fatal error messages you will be given the Internal Transaction Number and your package will be delivered.  If you need assistance in correcting your fatal errors, AES staff at the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-800-549-0595 and select Option 1 for AES help. There you will receive assistance from AES experts!

Jamel: Thank you so much! With your assistance and clarification I can now submit the correct information to resolve my fatal errors and get my shipment moving! You saved my vacation!

Note: The above is a dramatization to put the filing process in perspective when a fatal error has been received. If you need further clarification or are unclear as to the reasoning for the rejected shipment, there are numerous resources available to assist you. In this situation, the filer neglected to complete the USPPI and Ultimate Consignee sections with the required and correct information. Without that information, his shipment was rejected and unable to move forward. This could have ruined Jamel’s plan. Always make sure that the required fields are filed with accurate information and in the required format for the AES. Further, it is the responsibility of the filer to resolve all fatal errors to maintain compliance with the Foreign Trade Regulations.


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