Frequently Asked Questions: Changes to US-bound air cargo screening requirements

What changes are being made to US-bound air cargo screening requirements?

From 1 July 2017, all US-bound air cargo exports will need to be examined at piece level or originate from a Known Consignor. These requirements have been imposed on airlines by the US Government. The Australian Government is working with Australian businesses to help them comply with these US requirements.

What does piece level mean?

Piece-level means that each individual box, carton or other item in a shipment is examined by an X-ray machine or metal detector, depending on the nature of the item being examined, before it is loaded onto an aircraft.

How does piece-level screening differ from current requirements?

Cargo is often consolidated on a pallet (for example, boxes stacked and wrapped in plastic). Except in specific circumstances such as when cargo originates from a Known Consignor, cargo now needs to be unpacked, contents screened at piece level and repacked. This will take additional time and cost more.

Businesses can avoid this time and cost by becoming a Known Consignor or by having their cargo screened at piece level through an approved screening agent.

What is a Known Consignor?

A Known Consignor is a business that uses international best-practice security measures to secure air cargo that originates from their business until the air cargo is provided to another regulated business.

Will the deadline for meeting these new US requirements be extended?

No. The 1 July deadline is non-negotiable. From that date, all US-bound air cargo exports must comply with the new screening requirements, which are a requirement of the US Government. The Office of Transport Security is working with Australian businesses to help them comply with these new US requirements.

How can exporters comply with the new US requirements?

Businesses exporting to the US by air have two options to meet the new US requirements:

  • Using an Australian Government-approved freight agent who can examine US-bound air cargo. A list of these agents can be viewed available here
  • Being approved as a Known Consignor, which allows a business to secure air cargo at is point of origin in order to minimise potential delays and costs. Click here to begin the process of being approved as a Known Consignor.

How long does it take to become a Known Consignor?

You should allow at least 60 days for this process. This is because entry into the Known Consignor Scheme requires:

  • the lodgement of an Expression of Interest (see link below).
  • a detailed application.
  • validation through on-site inspection to ensure the business applying is meeting international best-practice security measures and can secure their export air cargo from where it originates.
  • application for an Aviation Security Identification Card (click here for more information). Applying for an ASIC takes time, which should be factored into the process of becoming a Known Consignor.
  • approval by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

This rigorous process varies according to the applicant. Exporters wishing to become a Known Consignor should start the application process now by clicking here.

How can freight forwarders comply with the new US requirements?

Freight forwarders will need to arrange to examine all US-bound air cargo at piece level if their customer is not a Known Consignor.

What if I can't meet the deadline of 1 July?

Airlines will not uplift your cargo from 1 July if you do not meet the new requirements imposed on airlines by the US Government. If you are an exporter who will not be able to secure a solution for your US-bound air cargo by 1 July, here is a list of freight agents who can examine cargo at a piece level. If your freight agent is not on this list, they will not be able to examine cargo at piece level.

If you are a freight forwarder, exporters of US-bound air cargo who have not secured a solution by 1 July may need your help. It is your responsibility to put in place contingency arrangements to avoid disruption to your customers' business. If you are not examining US-bound air cargo yourself, a list of approved freight agents can be found here.

Who will need an Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) under the new US requirements?

Approval as a Known Consignor involves a range of security measures, including background checking of relevant employees to ensure they are of suitable character. This background check is required for the issue of an Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC).  For more information about ASIC applications, click here.  Applying for an ASIC takes time, which should be factored into the process of becoming a Known Consignor.

How does the Known Consignor program relate to the Customs Trusted Trader program?

The Known Consignor program is separate to the Australian Trusted Trader Program, which is a voluntary import/export facilitation initiative for sea and air cargo that rewards accredited businesses with a secure supply chain and compliant trade practices with a range of trade facilitation benefits. The Known Consignor program is focused on the security of air cargo only.

If I'm a freight forwarder, how do I know if a customer is an approved Known Consignor?

A list of Approved Known Consignors can be found here.

Will the changes affect processing times at airports?

The new US Government piece-level screening requirements may increase processing time at airports for US bound air cargo. Businesses should consider becoming a Known Consignor to streamline the handling of their air cargo at airports in order to save time and money