Known Consignor Scheme: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is Australia introducing a Known Consignor Scheme?

Australia is introducing the Known Consignor Scheme to assist industry to meet new requirements for US-bound air cargo. From 1 July 2017, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will require that air cargo entering the US be examined (screened) at a deconsolidated level (‘piece-level’), or originate from a Known Consignor. More information on the US-bound air cargo security arrangements can be found here.

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What is piece-level examination?

Piece-level examination refers to examination of cargo at the lowest level of consolidation before it is packed into unit load devices (ULDs) or onto pallets. See the EACE factsheet for more information.

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What is considered a piece of cargo?

A piece of cargo is defined as the largest item that can be effectively examined based on the examination method used. For more information on the definition of a piece of cargo, refer to the EACE factsheet.

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Who is eligible to join the Scheme?

Businesses that originate international air cargo and have an Australian Business Number (ABN) are eligible to apply.

Originates means that you make, manufacture, assemble or otherwise produce the goods that become cargo. For example, you may be an exporter of fresh produce who sends regular air cargo consignments to export markets in the US.

Alternatively, you may also be considered the originator of goods, even where you don't make them yourself, but are the owner or person in control of the goods when they become cargo. For example, you might package up consignments at your facilities from goods made elsewhere for export by air.

I export by air to the US. Will my application to join the Scheme be prioritised?

Yes. Businesses that currently export by air to the US will have their applications prioritised over those businesses who do not export to the US. However, the application process is expected to take at least 10 weeks or longer regardless if you are prioritised.

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What does the application process involve?

The application process involves first submitting an Expression of Interest. If you are eligible, the Department will send you an application form. The application form will ask you a series of questions about your security measures, to ensure you can meet the requirements of the Scheme.

The Department then assesses your application against the requirements of the Scheme. If your application is accepted, departmental officials will conduct a site inspection to validate the answers you have provided and to confirm whether you can meet the security outcomes of the Scheme.

If you meet the security outcomes, and agree to adhere to them, you will be issued with a Security Program containing your regulatory obligations. If you agree to these obligations you will be approved as a Known Consignor.

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How long does the application process take?

The application process, from submitting an EOI through to acceptance of a finalised Security Program is expected to take at least 10 weeks, and in some cases much longer if you are required to improve security measures or change your business practices. As well, if demand to join the Scheme is high, further delays may be expected.

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What costs are involved in becoming a Known Consignor?

While there is no cost to apply to join, there may be costs associated with becoming a Known Consignor. These may include:

  • Creation or modification of security procedures and documentation;
  • installation of security related equipment or signage; and
  • training and background checking of employees.

If a business is not a known consignor, their air cargo will need to be examined by an approved business. There will be a cost to business for examination.

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Can an application be refused?

Yes. If you do not meet the security outcomes of the Scheme, do not provide access to your site for inspection and validation, or do not respond to a request for further information, your application cannot be approved.

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What happens once I'm approved?

If approved as a Known Consignor, you must:

  • adhere to the measures and procedures for clearing cargo as detailed in your Security Program;
  • issue Security Declarations for cargo that you originate in accordance with the measures and procedures as detailed in your Security Program;
  • ensure that your cargo does not contain any unauthorised explosives; and
  • inform the Department of any changes to your business details, operations, or Aviation Security Identification Card-holding personnel within seven days of the changes occurring.

More details and guidance on Security Declarations, the Security Program, and Aviation Security Identification Cards will be made available during the Known Consignor application process.

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How long does Known Consignor approval last?

Approval is for a period of up to five years.

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My exports are currently regulated by another Government agency. Can these accreditations replace my Known Consignor approval?

No. You will still need to apply to the Department and become accredited as a Known Consignor. In practice, however, the measures and procedures you have in place to meet the requirements of other Government schemes may help you meet Known Consignor requirements.

The Department is working with other Government agencies to determine what other regulatory regimes (such as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's Australian Trusted Trader Programme) may be recognised as part of the Known Consignor Scheme.

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I don't yet export by air, but plan to soon. Will I be able to join the Scheme before I begin exporting?

Yes, so long as you can demonstrate that you meet the security requirements of the Scheme, and will begin exporting by air soon. However, there may be a delay in assessing your application. The Department is prioritising exporters who currently export to the US by air.

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Do these new arrangements apply to air cargo travelling to countries other than the US?

No. At this stage, the enhanced security requirements only apply to air cargo that is being sent to the US. However, an individual business may choose to use their Known Consignor status to secure air cargo bound for all export destinations. Known Consignor cargo will be recognised under regulations as cleared cargo for all destinations.

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Who should I contact to discuss this further?

Please call the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Guidance Centre on 1300 791 581 or email

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