Most licensed Customs brokers that specialize in drawback matters either develop their own proprietary drawback system or purchase a license for the only comprehensive drawback software package on the market. The “off the shelf” drawback program costs $30,000-$40,000 up front with an annual maintenance fee of $5,000-$10,000 depending on the version.
A drawback claim processing software program involves two distinct functions: The initial matching of imports and exports once all the required data elements are loaded into the program, and the subsequent submission of the drawback claim data elements (in a very specific file layout) to Customs and Border Protection via Automated Broker Interface (an electronic pipeline to Customs Automated Commercial Environment referred to as ACE).
One needs to understand the difference between a drawback program that processes an actual claim and an electronic platform that simply submits the properly formatted data elements to Customs via ABI. Why? Because there are numerous companies now claiming they sell “drawback software” when in fact they offer only the final submission of the claim electronically to Customs via ACE system … the last step in the process.
A robust software application requires a highly sophisticated relational database application that would offer a myriad of functionality in order to accurately and compliantly process a number of different types of drawback claims. Not only does the program need to process claims under the more basic provision of unused merchandise drawback for goods imported and exported in essentially the same condition, but also offer a more complex bill of material functionality for manufacturing drawback claims on raw materials or components exported as part of a finished product.
Regardless, even if a company looking to establish a drawback program purchases or develops a drawback software application that actually performs the matching of the import and export data, there is much more to the process than just software.