USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Programs and Initiatives

Air Cargo

Air Cargo Image

100 Percent Screening Requirement

On Aug. 3, 2007, President Bush signed into law the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 (9/11 Act) P.L. 110-53 (2007), legislation requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a system to enable industry to screen 100 percent of cargo transported on passenger aircraft at a level of security commensurate with the level of security of passenger checked baggage, within three years. In addition, the legislation set an interim milestone for industry to screen 50 percent of all cargo shipped on a passenger aircraft within 18 months of enactment, by February 2009. The impact of the 100 percent screening requirement is that all cargo must be screened at the piece level by TSA approved methods prior to being loaded onto a passenger aircraft.

TSA believes the most effective means for industry to meet the congressional mandate of screening 100 percent of cargo transported on passenger aircraft by August 2010, and the initial challenges required in screening cargo at the piece level when the 50 percent mandate is effective, is to employ a supply chain solution. We are pursuing multiple initiatives across the supply chain to enable industry to meet the screening milestone.

These initiatives include Narrow-Body Cargo Screening, Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP), Indirect Air Carrier Screening Technology Pilot Program, and International Collaboration.

TSA Proposes to Increase Screening to 75 Percent

TSA is considering requiring passenger air carriers to increase the level of screening for air cargo uplifted in the U.S. from 50 to 75 percent by May 1, 2010. The Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Act of 2007 stipulated that the industry must have attained 50 percent by February 2009, and 100 percent by August 1, 2010. The airlines may provide comment on the pending intermediate requirement to reaching 100 percent as provided for by the Code of Federal Regulations.

Back To Top  

Narrow-Body Screening Amendment

The Narrow-Body Screening Amendment became effective on Oct. 1, 2008. Under this amendment, all cargo uplifted in the U.S. on narrow body aircraft (export or domestic flights) must be 100 percent screened at the piece level before it is netted, containerized, shrink wrapped skids, etc. must be disassembled and all pieces screened individually. This segment represents over 95 percent of the flights in the U.S. and protects over 85 percent of passengers.

Back To Top 

International Collaboration

TSA’s efforts to harmonize activities with foreign partners will increase global air cargo security and reduce burdens on trade. TSA’s agreements with the European Commission signed on Sept. 30, 2008 and agreement with the quadrilateral (QUAD) Canada, Australia and European Union member states signed on Dec. 2, 2008, will facilitate the signatories’ seeking common and practical solutions to air cargo screening. This harmonization will contribute greatly to achieving the 100 percent screening requirement of the 9/11 Act.

Back To Top  

IAC Screening Technology Pilot

The Indirect Air Carrier (IAC) Screening Technology Pilot is a component of the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP), and is focused in the 18 gateway cities. It is open to high volume freight forwarding and Independent Cargo Screening Facilities (ICSF) companies in these large market areas. The objectives for this pilot are:

  • To assist industry in achieving the screening requirements of the 9/11 Act by creating screening capacity at the IACs
  • To measure the effectiveness of select screening technologies on various commodity classes
  • To evaluate chain-of-custody procedures for screened cargo as it moves from the IAC to the air carrier.

TSA reopened this pilot in December 2008 for additional participants, including ICSFs. For more information on the IAC Screening Technology Pilot, please contact

Back To Top  

Indirect Air Carrier Program

An Indirect Air Carrier (IAC) means any person or entity within the United States not in possession of a Federal Aviation Administration air carrier operating certificate, that undertakes to engage indirectly in air transportation of property and uses for all or any part of such transportation the services of a passenger air carrier. Each Indirect Air Carrier must adopt and carry out a security program that meets current TSA requirements. The Indirect Air Carrier Regional Compliance Coordinators are responsible for the application process for freight forwarders working to become classified as Indirect Air Carriers. These coordinators complete annual renewals for current Indirect Air Carriers and provide assistance with program compliance. To locate an Indirect Air Carrier Regional Compliance Coordinator in your area, please view our map.

The Indirect Air Carrier Program is supported by the following systems:
Indirect Air Carrier Management System
Known Shipper Management System

Back To Top 

Indirect Air Carrier Management System

The Indirect Air Carrier Management System (IACMS) is a management system used by TSA to approve and validate new and existing Indirect Air Carriers. This management system and application is intended for freight forwarders wishing to receive TSA approval to tender cargo utilizing an Indirect Air Carrier certification. The IACMS is not intended for individuals wanting to ship cargo. New applicants and those needing to renew their security can go to the Indirect Air Carrier Management System for further information.

IACMS allows TSA to assess and capture pertinent information regarding IACs throughout the country and to process Security Threat Assessments (STAs) for all eligible employees. By working closely with compliance and outreach, IACMS Managers are able to better address non-compliance activities. IACMS processes approximately 150 new IAC applications and 350 certification renewals monthly.

Back To Top

Recent Air Cargo Security Changes: Consent to Screen

TSA ensures the security of the air cargo supply chain by mandating air carriers and freight forwarders to implement specific security measures. These security measures contained in the various carrier security programs are Sensitive Security Information (SSI) which is prohibited from public distribution. Although some of the security measures required by the carriers are readily visible to the public, most are carried out behind the scenes.

Security measures issued by TSA in the various carrier security programs are SSI and may not be distributed to the public.

On Oct. 23, 2006, TSA issued additional enhanced cargo security measures that may subject your cargo to inspection. The new security measures related to air cargo directly and indirectly require additional procedures to be implemented by several portions of the air transportation supply chain including air carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers. On Dec. 24, 2008, TSA issued seven new security programs to the air carriers, all-cargo carriers, and indirect air carriers. The effective date for implementation of the requirements in the security programs was Feb. 1, 2009. The new security programs involve cargo security changes that affect all modes within the air cargo supply chain.

Some of the new requirements implemented on Feb. 1, 2009, may require shippers to provide personal information/data to their transportation service providers and provide consent to screen authorization. Consent to screen authorization is required to ensure that shippers are aware that all shipments are subject to screening. If shippers screen their own cargo under the provisions of the CCSP, their shipments are still eligible for TSA screening as part of TSA’s layered approach to security. A shipper’s refusal to provide this information and consent to screen may have the carrier refuse the shipment and decline subsequent air transport.

Back To Top

Known Shipper Management System

Shippers wanting to ship goods by air transportation do not need a TSA Indirect Air Carrier Certification. If you wish to ship goods by air transportation please contact your transportation service provider and request to become a known shipper.

The Known Shipper data Management System provides a systematic approach to assessing risk and determining the legitimacy of shippers by allowing TSA to identify and approve the Known Shipper status for qualified shippers located in the U.S. Passenger Air Carriers and Indirect Air Carriers must comply with a range of specific security requirements to qualify their clients as Known Shippers. As of the third quarter in fiscal year 2008, TSA has processed approximately 1.4 million unique shippers through KSMS. Enhancements have greatly increased the processing speed reduced the processing time for an IAC to submit a shipper and receive feedback on its status.

Air Carriers and Indirect Air Carriers may use our online database if approved by TSA. For Known Shipper information, the airline or freight forwarder must be contacted directly.

Back To Top

Twelve Five and All Cargo Carrier Program

The Air Cargo Division currently regulates approximately 730 charter aircraft operators and 41 all-cargo aircraft operators. All-cargo air carriers have a maximum certificated take off weight of more than 45,500 kg. Twelve Five carriers have a certificated take off weight of more than 12,500 pounds and up to and including 45,500 pounds. Principal Security Inspectors (PSI) assist the air carriers in ensuring system-wide compliance with applicable regulations. The PSI acts as the primary point of contact between TSA and the assigned air carrier on all matters involving aviation security.

Back To Top


Vulnerability Assessment Program

In January 2008, TSA began conducting air cargo vulnerability assessments across the country and is in the process of completing air cargo vulnerability assessments at all Category X airports.

The vulnerability assessment program is designed to identify critical air cargo supply chain nodes and assess the assets and potential loss impacts to these assets. In addition, these vulnerability assessments being conducted throughout the country will identify and evaluate the risks to the air cargo supply chain.

Back To Top

Air Cargo Watch

TSA is partnering with industry to increase security domain awareness so that individuals are empowered to detect, deter, and report potential or actual security threats. The resulting Air Cargo Watch campaign is consistent with U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration efforts. We encourage industry partnership domestically and abroad to detect, deter, and prevent terrorist acts against our transportation systems without impeding commerce. Specifically, Air Cargo Watch seeks to better enable the public and industry to report suspicious activity. Air Cargo Watch has developed materials including a presentation, posters and a two-page guide, to encourage increased attention to potential security threats among several audiences. TSA encourages the display of posters and guides in public view to better attain its goal of maximizing security awareness along the entire air cargo supply chain. All materials have been designed to supplement security concerns for the shipper community. You can support the Air Cargo Watch initiative by displaying posters and guides within areas designated for cargo acceptance, shipping and receiving, warehouses, and other public locations.

Before displaying the Air Cargo Watch guide, make sure to add phone numbers for local police, sheriff, fire and rescue in the designated space on the back, and display both sides of the guide. Always follow company policies and procedures when reporting suspicious activity and make sure to never compromise the liberty and freedoms of others based on suspicion alone.

You can make a difference by partnering with TSA to better secure our transportation systems. Share this Web site,, with those who want to make a difference in the fight against terrorism. Thank you for your support.

Air Cargo Watch materials:

Latest revision: 14 November 2013