Air Cargo Advance Screening Pilot
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the benefits to industry of participating in Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS)?
A: While the benefits of ACAS participation vary between organizations, several universal advantages of joining include:
- Increasing security by leveraging Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threat and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve air cargo security through targeted screening
- Gaining efficiencies by automating identification of high risk cargo for enhanced screening before it is consolidated and loaded on aircraft
- Establishing mitigation protocols for high-risk shipments
- Informing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) decision-making by participating in efforts to establish, test, and refine the interface between government and industry communication systems for the implementation of ACAS
- Ensuring a variety of business models are considered in the development and implementation of ACAS
- Facilitating corporate preparedness for future mandatory implementation of ACAS submission requirements
- Reducing paper processes related to cargo screening requirements, thereby increasing carrier convenience
Q: Who is permitted to participate in ACAS?
A: Participation in ACAS is open to all organizations associated with the air cargo supply chain, including passenger carriers, all-cargo carriers, freight forwarders, express carriers, etc. There are no restrictions with regard to organization size, location, or commodity type.
Q: Who do I contact to join ACAS and when can I join ACAS?
A: All parties interested in joining ACAS should send their inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. At that time, detailed information on when and how to join, including qualification requirements, will be provided.
Q: What type of data do I need to submit? How should the data be submitted?
A: Airlines and freight forwarders will exchange advance security filing data and related action messages for air cargo with CBP using new messages modeled on either existing Cargo-IMP format messages or CBP CAMIR-Air messages. While the overall form of the ACAS message will be similar to the message on which it is based, the new message formats will have slight differences in edits, timing, or new coded values as needed. The messages used for ACAS will be as follows:
Optional ACAS Message Format Based On Source
PHL FHL Cargo IMP
PRI FRI CAMIR Air
PSN FSN CAMIR Air
PER FER CAMIR Air
PWB (future use) FWB Cargo IMP
Q: Which government agencies have access to my organization’s ACAS data submissions?
A: CBP and TSA. Following a terrorist attempt in October 2010 involving explosives concealed in packages on U.S.-bound aircraft from Yemen, TSA and CBP have worked to enhance air cargo supply chain security by leveraging advance cargo screening data to jointly target passenger and all-cargo shipments inbound to the U.S.
Q: Are there plans to make ACAS a mandatory program?
A: Yes. CBP and TSA intend to issue a regulation to require advance data submission to ACAS for all international shipments either destined for or transiting through the United States. ACAS will facilitate a risk-based approach to screening.
Q: What are the costs of participating in ACAS?
A: The costs of ACAS participation vary between organizations, depending on their pre-existing infrastructures. Costs may include carrier communication requirements, such as submission and receipt of data, as well as the cost of screening protocol implementation.
Q: Are there penalties for incorrect or untimely ACAS data submission?
A: No, there are no penalties associated with ACAS at this time. Once ACAS becomes a mandatory program, penalties for incorrect or untimely data submission will likely exist.
Q: To what extent is the international community (for example, Border Action Plan, European Union, World Customs Organization) involved with ACAS, and how is the U.S. Government promoting uniformity of security programs globally?
A: A critical step to achieving a global solution to terrorism is international cooperation on data collection standards that promote a harmonized approach to international air cargo security. The United States sees ACAS as a model for the international community to effectively enhance air cargo security, and will continue to work with the World Customs Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization as harmonization of air cargo security standards spread to all areas of the globe, further facilitating trade and enhancing security worldwide.
Q: To what extent will industry stakeholders be involved in development of ACAS as a mandatory program?
A: TSA and CBP are in on-going communication with industry stakeholders from all stages of the air cargo supply chain in an effort to enhance ACAS’ effectiveness and functionality from an industry perspective.
Q: How are ACAS submissions aligned with the submissions that industry currently provides to CBP for entry to the United States?
A: The ACAS data elements are a subset of the data required by the Trade Act of 2002: Shipper name and address, Consignee name and address, Cargo description, Piece count, and Weight.
Q: Why did the government implement ACAS and under what legal authority does it operate?
A: Following a terrorist attempt in October 2010 involving explosives concealed in U.S.-bound packages from Yemen, CBP and TSA worked to enhance air cargo supply chain security by using ACAS to target shipments inbound to the United States. ACAS participation is not required at this time; however, CBP and TSA do intend to issue regulations in the future to require submission of pre-loading data to ACAS for international inbound air cargo. CBP’s legal authority is derived from the Trade Act of 2002. TSA’s legal authority comes from Aviation Transportation Security Act.
Q: Will ACAS be required for both passenger and all-cargo carriers?
A: Yes. Upon the successful conclusion of the pilot, CBP and TSA intend to mandate both passenger and all-cargo carriers to submit data to ACAS. The ACAS test is open to all organizations associated with the air cargo supply chain, including passenger carriers, all-cargo carriers, express carriers, and freight forwarders.
Q: How will freight forwarders participate in ACAS?
A: ACAS is open to all passenger carriers, all-cargo carriers, express carriers, and freight forwarders that have the ability to transmit advance data to CBP, using one of the three options identified in the ACAS Strategic Plan. Freight forwarder engagement will be facilitated by air carriers; given that both TSA’s and CBP’s legal authority rests with the air carrier.
The Strategic Plan can be found on both CBP.gov and TSA.gov. ( Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) Pilot Strategic Plan (pdf – 420 KB.) ) or ( ACAS Strategic Plan )
Q: What are the benefits of joining ACAS from a freight forwarder perspective, given that only the carrier is required to submit data?
A: While the benefits of ACAS Pilot participation vary between organizations, several universal advantages of joining include:
- Avoiding the reduced cut-off times that may result from carriers requesting earlier data submission from freight forwarders that are not ACAS Pilot participants
- Ensuring that a variety of business models, including those of freight forwarders, are considered in the development and implementation of rules related to ACAS
- Facilitating freight forwarder business operations by increasing consolidation lead-times through improved visibility into which shipments require enhanced screening
- Increasing security by leveraging Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threat and other data to employ a risk-based approach through targeted screening
- Informing TSA and CBP decision-making by participating in efforts to establish, test, and refine the interface between government and industry communication systems for the implementation of ACAS
Q: How would it work for a freight forwarder if a shipment requires enhanced screening?
A: Should a shipment require enhanced screening, email or phone notification will be provided to the freight forwarder as soon as possible, in order to afford the freight forwarder an opportunity to segregate or screen the shipment under its National Cargo Security Program (NCSP), or as an authorized representative of the carrier, as appropriate.
Q: How will the carriers know that a freight forwarder has already submitted House level ACAS data to CBP?
A: CBP welcomes all data submissions directly from freight forwarders who have the ability to transmit advance data directly to CBP. CBP encourages carriers to accept the data already transmitted and vetted to CBP by the freight forwarders. Technical solutions providing an alternative way to facilitate the submission of data from the freight forwarders and carriers are being explored.
Q: How far in advance does data have to be submitted for ACAS?
A: While the government does not currently intend to establish a specific data submission timeline, timely provision of ACAS data prior to consolidation and loading the cargo on an aircraft will be required to enable risk assessment for each cargo shipment and to conduct the required screening . The sooner data are submitted to ACAS, the sooner screening or Do Not Load (DNL) determinations can be communicated to industry stakeholders, thereby minimizing the impact to operations.
Q: How does ACAS apply in countries that have an NCSP?
A: ACAS involvement is currently encouraged and will ultimately be required for air cargo supply chain participants in all countries- including those operating under an NCSP. Operating in an NCSP country does not exempt participants from ACAS requirements; the NCSP program simply allows approved air cargo supply chain participants to screen in accordance with that country’s domestic cargo screening regime.
Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) Pilot Strategic Plan
(pdf – 420 KB.)