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Customs Initiates Mandatory Air Cargo Screening Program

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration announced plans to implement a mandatory Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program on Tuesday, requiring submission of advanced air cargo information on shipments arriving in the U.S. from a foreign location.

The ACAS measure, according to CBP, is a necessary one as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to raise the baseline on aviation security worldwide. As part of the program, participating carriers submit a subset of required pre-arrival air cargo data to CBP prior to loading the cargo onto an aircraft destined to or transiting through the U.S.

The screening 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,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said. “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 will 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. CBP and TSA said they will continue to work closely with partners in law enforcement and the shipping industry to ensure our nation’s ports and cargo facilities are secure.