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Air Cargo Advance Screening Program Goes into Effect

Release Date: 
June 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration announced that the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program went into effect today requiring the submission of advanced air cargo information on shipments arriving in the United States from a foreign location. Previously a voluntary process in which many airlines already participated globally, the program requirements are now mandatory for airlines flying to the United States. This is a necessary measure as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to raise the baseline on aviation security worldwide.

 As part of the ACAS program, participating carriers submit a subset of required pre-arrival air cargo data to CBP at the earliest point practicable and prior to loading the cargo onto aircraft destined to or transiting through the United States. ACAS leverages DHS threat information and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve air cargo security through targeted vetting. At the National Targeting Center, CBP and TSA jointly target and mitigate any cargo identified as high-risk before it is loaded aboard aircraft destined to the United States. 

 “The ACAS program is a vital component for CBP to prevent illicit contraband from entering, while expediting lawful commerce,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.  “It was built on partnership with the express and air cargo industry and represents the government and private sector working together to solve challenging problems.  The formalization of ACAS will enhance and support the security of the small parcel and air cargo industry for years to come.”

 “TSA and CBP continue our strong partnership in securing the homeland, and the screening of inbound air cargo is improved with these new regulations,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Our joint procedures with the industry will allow for effective and efficient screening of the high volume of cargo transported daily to the United States.”

 CBP and TSA work together to employ a layered security approach to secure inbound air cargo, including using various risk assessment methods to identify high-risk cargo and to mitigate any risks posed. When this high-risk cargo is identified, enhanced cargo screening is performed pursuant to TSA-approved or accepted security programs.

 While there is no current specific terrorist threat to cargo bound to the United States, terrorists continue to target the aviation sector. CBP and TSA continue to work closely with our partners in law enforcement and the shipping industry to ensure our nation's ports and cargo facilities are secure.

 In October 2010, the global counterterrorism community disrupted a potential terrorist attack when concealed explosive devices were discovered in cargo onboard aircraft destined for the United States.  This incident demonstrated the importance of advance information in identifying and disrupting the attempts of terrorists to exploit the global supply chain. CBP and the TSA collaborated with express consignment carriers and launched the ACAS pilot in December 2010. The pilot quickly expanded to include participation by relevant stakeholders in the air cargo community such as passenger carriers and freight forwarders.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed the Air Cargo Advance Screening interim final rule on May 23, certifying ACAS as a program. The program officially goes into effect June 12, 2018.

Last modified: 
June 12, 2018