ACAS- Air Cargo Advance Screening

The ACAS program has been mandatory since June 12, 2018.  The ACAS program is a joint public/private partnership with CBP and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration).  The ACAS program requires the airline or other 3rd party to submit manifest information before the loading of the cargo at the foreign destination.

CBP LOI (Letter of Intent)

Each participant in the ACAS program must complete an LOI (letter of intent). Customs City Global Solutions has summarized the LOI requirements on this form.


Why does the ACAS Program Exist?

In response to the attempted terrorist attack involving bombs sent on passenger airplanes from Yemen, CBP and the TSA has enhanced air cargo supply chain security with the ACAS program.

ACAS allows CBP and the TSA to receive advance security filing cargo data as a means to target cargo shipments inbound to the United States that may be high risk and require additional physical screening under the appropriate regulatory framework and protocols.

ACAS Filing Options

ACAS enables express carriers, passenger air carriers, freight forwarders, and all-cargo air carriers to send and receive advance security filing data and related action messages for all air cargo through CBP’s Automated Targeting System (ATS), based on three ACAS filing options:

  1. Two-Part Air Carrier Filing – Air carrier transmits advance shipment data for security filing to meet the ACAS requirement while subsequently transmitting post-departure Automated Manifest System (AMS) Air data in accordance with Trade Act requirements.
  2. Freight Forwarder, Carrier Dual Filing – Freight Forwarder may transmit House AirWaybill (AWB) data directly to CBP to meet pre-loading targeting requirements; freight fowarder and carrier receive ACAS responses prior to consolidation and delivery to air carriers. Air carriers accept forwarder cargo for transport after confirming successful ACAS transmission, and perform required screening. Carrier submit AMS Air data in accordance with the Trade Act requirements. **Warehouse (CFS, ECCF) or customs broker may also submit advance House AirWaybill data directly to CBP to comply with the Trade Act requirement.
  3. Carrier Single Filing of ACAS and AMS Air data – Air carriers transmit the AMS Air manifest data to CBP prior to loading of cargo, and perform all required screening. The pre-loading AMS manifest transmission would be used by CBP to satisfy both ACAS and AMS Air requirements.

Implementation of a two-way electronic messaging capability will further allow CBP and TSA to automate the ACAS referral process to request additional data, refer a shipment for screening, or in the case of a serious unmitigated threat, deliver a Do Not Load instruction.


What are the ACAS Data Elements?

Air Waybill Number

Shipper Name and Address – individual name or name of business and street address with city/province, country and postal code

Consignee Name and Address – individual name or name of business and street address with city/state, country and zip code

Cargo Description – clear and concise cargo description

Total Quantity – smallest external packing unit ie. how many boxes on the pallet

Total Weight – total weight of cargo (pounds or kilograms)

What are the Benefits of the ACAS Program?

Benefits include:

  • Increased security by leveraging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threat data to employ a risk-based approach to improve air cargo security through targeted screening
  • Efficiencies by automating identification of high-risk cargo for screening before it is loaded on US bound aircraft
  • Reduced paper processes related to cargo screening requirements, thereby increasing carrier convenience
  • Avoiding reduced cut-off times that may result from carriers requesting earlier data submission from freight forwarders that are not ACAS filers
  • Facilitating freight forwarder business operations by increasing consolidation lead-times through improved visibility into which shipments require enhanced screening
  • Increasing security by leveraging DHS threat data and other data to employ a risk-based approach through targeted screening