Accredited Air Cargo Agent (AACA) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For any queries relating to the AACA Scheme, please contact the Department by email at GuidanceCentre@infrastructure.gov.au or by phone on 1300 791 581.

What does it mean to be an AACA?

AACAs play an important role in the cargo supply chain. As an AACA:

  • A business can handle or make arrangements for the transport of cargo, including securely transporting cargo that has:
    • been examined and cleared by a RACA in accordance with an ACE or EACE Notice issued by the Department; or
    • originated from a Known Consignor.
  • A business cannot:
    • clear cargo; or
    • issue a Security Declaration.
  • A business must:
    • comply with the AACA Security Program;
    • protect the security of cargo from when an item is received until it leaves an AACA's possession;
    • conduct a security check and cargo verification, or use Regular Customer arrangements on all cargo received into its possession; and
    • provide evidence of the security check and cargo verification conducted when passing an item of cargo to another regulated business.
  • A business may continue to issue a Chain of Custody Statement (ChoCS). However, this is no longer a regulatory requirement.

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Who can become an AACA?

Any business that does, or intends to, handle or make arrangements for the transport of cargo that will be carried on board an aircraft, may apply to become an AACA.

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Why should I be an AACA?

AACAs are important to maintaining the whole of supply chain security and are deemed a regulated business for the purposes of the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005.

AACAs are vital as they facilitate the transport of cargo between Known Consignors, RACAs, other AACAs and airports. Importantly, cargo which has been cleared for uplift on an international aircraft by a Known Consignor or RACA retains its cleared status if transported by an AACA in a secure manner.

Cleared cargo that is transported or in any way handled by an unregulated business will immediately lose its cleared status and will require re-examination and clearance prior to uplift on an aircraft. Not using a regulated business to transport cleared cargo is inefficient, as the clearance process is duplicated, and costs may be incurred for re-clearance of cargo. It may also compromise the safety of an airport by allowing uncleared cargo to be delivered to a Cargo Terminal Operator (CTO) RACA.

AACAs also play an important role in protecting the security of air cargo moving through the supply chain. AACAs are required to conduct an AACA security check and cargo verification process to confirm the identification of the sender, to ensure cargo has not been tampered with, to ensure that cargo does not contain an unauthorised explosive device and to ensure cargo remains secure from unauthorised access.

In addition, there is an expectation from many CTO RACAs that cargo is delivered by regulated businesses who must comply with a Security Program. In fact, a CTO RACA may not accept cargo unless it is delivered to them by an AACA, RACA or Known Consignor.

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How do I join the AACA scheme?

Any business interested in joining the AACA scheme needs to complete the AACA application form. Applicants must submit their completed application form in accordance with the instructions contained in the form.

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Are there fees to become an AACA?

There is no fee to apply to become an AACA.

However, to become an AACA you must be able to comply with all requirements outlined in the AACA Security Program. You are responsible for any costs your business may incur to meet these requirements.

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Is the AACA scheme right for me?

AACAs play an important role in maintaining ‘whole of supply chain’ security. They support the safety of the aviation industry and are an integral part of the regulatory framework established to safeguard against unlawful interference with aviation. AACAs facilitate the transport of cleared cargo between Known Consignors, RACAs, other AACAs and airports. Importantly, cargo which has been cleared for uplift on an international aircraft by a Known Consignor or RACA retains its cleared status if transported by an AACA in a secure manner.

However, an AACA cannot clear cargo, or issue a Security Declaration. If you are interested in performing these functions, you may wish to apply to join the:

  • Regulated Air Cargo Agent (RACA) scheme; or
  • Known Consignor scheme.

To join the RACA scheme, you need to contact eace@infrastructure.gov.au. The RACA scheme is open to any business that handles or makes arrangements for the transport of cargo that will be carried on board an aircraft and, examines cargo under an EACE or ACE Notice issued by the Department.

Please note, in order to gain access to an EACE or ACE Notice, businesses must be able to demonstrate that they are able to examine cargo using approved technology. In addition, the ACE Notice is only available to RACAs with an on-airport border or Cargo Terminal Operator.

To join the Known Consignor scheme, you need to submit an Expression of Interest, which is available on the Department's website at infrastructure.gov.au/security/air-cargo/known-consignor-eoi.aspx. To be eligible to join the Known Consignor scheme you must originate cargo.

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What is the AACA Security Program?

The AACA Security Program is issued under the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 (the Regulations) and sets out the security requirements which all AACAs must comply with. Failure to comply with the AACA Security Program may result in your AACA accreditation being revoked. If at any time you believe you will be unable to comply with the requirements of the AACA Security Program, you should contact the Department immediately.

The Department has developed guidance material to assist AACAs in understanding and applying the AACA Security Program to their operating environment, the guidance material is provided to all AACAs upon accreditation. The AACA Security Program remains in force for as long as a business is accredited as an AACA by the Department.

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What does the AACA Security Program cover?

The AACA Security Program sets out requirements relating to:

  1. the security of the AACA's facilities;
  2. the security of the AACA's personnel;
  3. training for the AACA's personnel;
  4. the handling of cleared cargo;
  5. the chain of custody for cargo;
  6. handling high risk cargo; and
  7. for oversight of the measures, procedures and requirements listed in a) to f) above.

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Can the content of the AACA Security Program be varied?

An AACA Security Program can be varied by the Secretary of the Department under certain conditions.

Additionally, under the Regulations, an AACA may request that the Secretary of the Department vary their AACA Security Program. Any request to vary an AACA Security Program must be made in writing, providing details of the proposed variation and include reasons why the proposed variation is being requested.

The Secretary (or Secretary's delegate) will consider all variation requests, and notify the AACA in writing as to whether the request has been approved.

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What offences may an AACA be liable for?

The Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 establish a number of offences which apply to AACAs. All AACAs are responsible for knowing and understanding their legislative and regulatory obligations and complying with those obligations.

Some of the offences applicable to an AACA include:

  • Issuing a Security Declaration.
  • Disclosing the content of an AACA Security Program without consent.
  • Failing to comply with a special security declaration.
  • Failing to report an aviation security incident.

If an AACA commits any of these offences, the maximum penalty is 50 penalty units. This currently equates to a financial penalty of $9,000 (please note, this amount may increase as penalty unit fees changes over time)

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What is a Security Declaration?

A Security Declaration is a document issued by a RACA or a Known Consignor. A Security Declaration indicates that cargo is cleared and ready to be uplifted on an international aircraft.

It is an offence under the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 if a person other than a RACA or Known Consignor issues a Security Declaration. This means that an AACA cannot issue a Security Declaration.

A RACA may only issue a Security Declaration after they have examined and cleared an item of cargo in accordance with the ACE or EACE Notice issued to them by the Department.

A Known Consignor may only issue a Security Declaration in relation to cargo they have originated.

A Security Declaration must contain specific information, including the examination method used to clear the cargo. Clause 4.41D of the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 specifies the information required to be contained in a Security Declaration.

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What is the security check and cargo verification?

A security check and cargo verification is a process undertaken by an AACA to verify the contents and sender details of unknown cargo in an AACAs possession prior to providing that item of cargo to another regulated business.

In accordance with the AACA Security Program, AACAs are required to undertake a security check and cargo verification for all cargo, unless:

  • the cargo is cleared cargo that is received from a regulated business (that is, a RACA, Known Consignor or another AACA); or
  • the cargo is received from a Regular Customer. The AACA Security Program outlines how customers can become Regular Customers.

AACAs are responsible for determining the security check and cargo verification process they will use.

To meet the security check and cargo verification process an AACA may:

  • check, record and retain the identification of the person delivering or offering the cargo;
  • conduct a physical inspection of the cargo; and
  • verify the contents of the cargo and consignment details are correct.

The security check and cargo verification process is similar to that undertaken previously by RACAs under Annex A of their RACA TSP.

All cargo must be kept secure at all times while in an AACA's possession. This applies regardless of if the cargo requires a security check and cargo verification, if the cargo was received under Regular Customer arrangements or if the cargo was cleared when received.

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What documentation can be used for the security check and cargo verification?

A template for the AACA security check and cargo verification is available on the Department's website PDF: 19 KB ReadSpeaker and is also included in the AACA Security Program guidance material. It is not mandatory to use the template provided by the Department, as businesses have the flexibility to develop and use their own documentation. Please refer to the guidance material provided with the AACA Security Program for further information.

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What is the AACA accreditation expiry date?

The accreditation of an AACA may last for a period between one and five years. The Department will advise businesses of their accreditation expiry date.

If you wish to remain an AACA, you will need to apply to renew your accreditation prior to its expiry. An application for renewal can be made up to 12 months before your AACA accreditation expiry date.

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What is my AACA Number?

Upon accreditation, all AACAs are issued with an AACA number, unique to their business.

There may be some AACAs who were accredited prior to these numbers being issued. If you do not know your AACA number, and would like to be provided with this, please send an email request to aaca@infrastructure.gov.au.

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Can an AACA use Regular Customer arrangements?

An AACA may use Regular Customer arrangements. A Regular Customer is a customer which is known to an AACA and has an ongoing relationship with the AACA's business. The AACA Security Program sets out minimum requirements for Regular Customer arrangements which must be complied with. When passing an item of cargo to another regulated business, an AACA must provide evidence that the item of cargo has originated from a Regular Customer.

An item of cargo received by an AACA from a Regular Customer is uncleared cargo. It must be examined and cleared by a RACA under an EACE or ACE Notice issued by the Department. The RACA may then issue a Security Declaration, if appropriate.

An AACA cannot issue a Security Declaration for cargo received through Regular Customer arrangements. It is an offence for an AACA to issue a Security Declaration. Once the Security Declaration is issued by the RACA, the item of cargo may be uplifted on an international aircraft.

This approach is a change from the previous system as cargo received from a Regular Customer was considered to be cleared cargo. It was then cleared using ACE, which has been a requirement for some time, before being uplifted to an aircraft.

Even though cargo received from an AACA is considered to be uncleared, using Regular Customer arrangements still has benefits for an AACA. Cargo received from a Regular Customer is considered to be low risk as it is known cargo. This improves the whole of supply chain security. It also means that an AACA is not required to conduct a security check and cargo verification process on the cargo.

If an AACA chooses not to use Regular Customer arrangements, or Regular Customer arrangements are not applicable to an item of cargo received, the AACA must conduct a security check and verify that the contents of the cargo and consignment details are correct. When passing an item of cargo to another regulated business, the AACA must provide evidence that the security check and cargo verification process has been undertaken.

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What do I need to do if I no longer want to be an AACA?

You must write to the Department by email to aaca@infrastructure.gov.au requesting that your accreditation as an AACA be revoked.

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I am a franchisee who has sold my business, what happens to my AACA accreditation? OR I am a new owner of a franchise that was accredited, what do I need to do?

AACA accreditation does not transfer to the new owner when a business is sold.

If you have sold your franchise you are required to email the Department at aaca@infrastructure.gov.au requesting that your accreditation as an AACA be revoked.

As part of the sale of your franchise, you should also advise the new owner that they must complete an AACA application form, which is to be submitted to the Department in accordance with the instructions contained in the form.

If you have purchased a franchise that requires accreditation, even if that business was previously accredited, you will need to complete an application for accreditation. If the former owner did not request revocation of their accreditation, you may need to provide evidence of purchase/ownership.

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How do I notify the Department of changes to my business or contact details?

In accordance with the AACA Security Program, if there are any changes to your business details (Name/ABN/ACN/ARBN), contact details, operational details or nominated sites, as recorded by the Department, you must notify the Department in writing within 7 days by emailing aaca@infrastructure.gov.au. This notification should provide details of the change, including the date the changes occurred.

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Need more information?

For more information on the changes to the AACA scheme, or any of the other incoming changes to air cargo security, visit the Department's website at infrastructure.gov.au/security/air-cargo.

If you have specific questions, please email GuidanceCentre@infrastructure.gov.au

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