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New Cargo Inspection and Security Rules Adopted by Customs and TSA

The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration have issued the following statements on their new rules for cargo inspections. NFDA is in contact with DHS to determine whether or not the shipment of human remains will be included; however, in the meantime, we suggest that you contact the cargo officials at the airlines or other transportation companies you use to ship human remains for details on how they will be implementing these new rules.

Department of Homeland Security Announces Cargo Security Initiative

On November 20, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security released final rules that allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect cargo information necessary to identify high-risk shipments, which could threaten the safety and security of the United States. The final rules for cargo security address the timeline of presentation for electronic advance manifest information.

CBP will process advance cargo information into an automated targeting system linked to various law enforcement and commercial databases. This initial step will enable CBP to efficiently identify shipments that pose a potential risk. Previously most non-maritime inbound shipments entered into the U.S. without being screened by an automated targeting system. As a result, most cargo shipments could not be assessed for risk prior to arrival. The Trade Act provides the Department of Homeland Security with the authority to eliminate antiquated, paper-driven processes for cargo crossing our borders.

The following are the timelines for all modes of transportation:


  • Air & Courier - 4 hours prior to arrival in U.S., or "wheels up" from certain nearby areas
  • Rail - 2 hours prior to arrival at a U.S. port of entry
  • Vessel - 24 hours prior to lading at foreign port
  • Truck - Free And Secure Trade (FAST): 30 minutes prior to arrival in U.S.; non-FAST: 1 hour prior to arrival in the U.S.


  • Air & Courier - 2 hours prior to scheduled departure from the U.S.
  • Rail - 2 hours prior to the arrival of the train at the border
  • Vessel - 24 hours prior to departure from U.S. port where cargo is laden
  • Truck - 1 hour prior to the arrival of the truck at the border

More information, along with a summary of the final rules, is available on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site at

TSA to Begin Random Inspection of Air Cargo

Based on a security directive issued this week by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), air cargo carriers are now required to begin random inspections of air cargo. Foreign all-cargo airlines must meet the same cargo security procedures followed by U.S. air carriers.

Passenger aircraft that transport cargo and all-cargo aircraft, foreign and domestic, that plan to fly in to, out of, and within the United States will be subject to inspection. TSA standards also require air carriers to follow pre-approved security plans. Carriers must also verify the identities of all persons with access to their aircraft.

These new requirements are the first step in TSA’s Air Cargo Strategic Plan, which is a layered approach to securing the entire air cargo supply chain. The plan calls for a threat-based risk management approach similar to that used by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to ensure that all "higher risk" cargo is inspected.

The Strategic Plan calls for augmenting the TSA’s Known Shipper Program, which prohibits air carriers from accepting cargo that does not originate from shippers who meet TSA’s known shipper requirements. The program’s Known Shipper Automated Database and Indirect Air Carrier Database will allow TSA to have faster access and more comprehensive data on applicants for Known Shipper status.

The Known Shipper Program will use a cargo pre-screening system that includes terrorist watch lists and federal and commercial databases, in order to identify higher-risk cargo shipments. TSA is working alongside CBP to build on existing pre-screening technology for use in the maritime border environment.

TSA will continue research and development of additional solutions to enhance air cargo inspection.

Posted November 25, 2003