Changes to air cargo screening requirements

​The Australian Government has announced new export screening requirements for air cargo. They will apply to all destinations from 1 March 2019.

All outbound international air cargo, regardless of its destination, must be examined under the Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE) program before it is loaded onto the plane.

The Department of Home Affairs is implementing the new requirements.

Enhanced Air Cargo Examination program

Under the EACE program, all outbound international air cargo must either:

  • be examined at piece-level by a Regulated Air Cargo Agent (RACA)
    or
  • originate from a Known Consignor.

There is no change for exporting to the United States. The EACE program has applied to US exports since July 2017.

Find out more about air cargo security requirements.​

What you need to do

This change may affect your current export arrangements.

You can prepare by talking to the regulated business (for security purposes) in your current air cargo supply chain.

Regulated businesses include:

  • Regulated Air Cargo Agents (RACAs)
  • Known Consignors (KCs)
  • Accredited Air Cargo Agents (AACAs).

Known Consignor scheme

Cargo originating from a Known Consignor is considered cleared and doesn’t need piece-level examination.

A Known Consignor is responsible for securing air cargo that originates from their business until it moves to another regulated business.

To be a Known Consignor you must demonstrate to the Department of Home Affairs that you have the necessary security measures and procedures in place to achieve this. Find out more about becoming a known consignor.

Importing country requirements

While adjusting to the new security requirements, you still need to meet the requirements of:

Discuss your specific requirements with the regulated business (for security purposes) in your air cargo supply chain.

To meet importing country requirements, export shipments can only be sealed:

  • by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Authorised Officer
    or
  • under an approved container sealing program.

Contact the regulated business (for security purposes) in your air cargo supply chain. In some circumstances, they may be able to inspect or seal containers following piece-level examination.

You should factor in the time it takes to issue export documents into your timeframes.

You must have all required documents before you can export your goods—particularly when dealing with perishable or time-sensitive products.

Find out more about exporting from Australia.

Horticultural products

If your produce originates from a pest free area, or if treatment is applied before the cargo is handed to a regulated business (for security purposes), you will need to ensure its phytosanitary integrity is maintained during piece-level examination.

You should check with your regulated business (for security purposes) how this can be achieved.

More information

Have you talked to the person who exports your product, but still have questions or concerns?

Contact the Department of Home Affairs:
Email: Guidance Centre
Phone: 1300 791 581

Frequently asked questions

[expand all]

Changes to export cargo security examination requirements

Is export air cargo examination a new requirement?

  • No, it is not a new requirement.
  • All export air cargo is already examined. The changes relate to an increased level of examination or the application of a new method of examination.

What is changing about export air cargo examination requirements?

  • By 1 March 2019, all outbound international (export) air cargo, regardless of its destination, must be examined under an Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE) Notice, or originate from a Known Consignor, before it is loaded onto an aircraft.
  • This includes Australian agriculture exports.

When will these changes be required?

  • These changes will be required by 1 March 2019.

Why are these changes necessary?

  • These changes improve the security of Australia’s transport system.

What is Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE)?

  • Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE) is undertaken by a Regulated Air Cargo Agent (RACA).
  • All export air cargo must be examined by a RACA or originate from a Known Consignor.
  • There will be no change for export air cargo to the United States because the EACE Notice has been applied since 1 July 2017.
  • Find out more about air cargo security requirements.

Are there any exceptions to piece-level examination of air cargo?

  • Cargo originating from a Known Consignor is considered cleared and doesn’t need piece-level examination.
  • There are no other exceptions to these requirements; however, there are several different methods by which air cargo can be examined and cleared by a RACA.
  • Talk to the regulated business (for security purposes) in your current air cargo supply chain about how your cargo will be examined.  Regulated businesses include Regulated Air Cargo Agents (RACAs), Known Consignors (KCs), and Accredited Air Cargo Agents (AACAs)
  • Non-compliance with the examination requirements may delay cargo.

What it means for produce exporters or export registered establishments

What do I need to do to meet the new requirements and what costs are involved?

  • You can prepare for this change by talking to the regulated business (for security purposes) in your current air cargo supply chain. In this context, regulated businesses include Regulated Air Cargo Agents (RACAs), Known Consignors (KCs), and Accredited Air Cargo Agents (AACAs)
  • They can help you find out what options you have to meet the new requirements, and what the cost will be.

What is a ‘Known Consignor’ and do I need to become one?

  • A Known Consignor is a business that originates goods that become air cargo, and has been approved by the Department of Home Affairs as a Known Consignor.
  • Cargo originating from a Known Consignor is considered cleared and does not need piece-level examination prior to uplift.
  • If your business exports large/regular amounts of product by air cargo you could consider becoming a Known Consignor.
  • It is not mandatory to become a Known Consignor, and many businesses will choose not to.  RACAs provide clearance of cargo that doesn’t originate from a Known Consignor.
  • A Known Consignor is responsible for securing air cargo that originates from their business until the air cargo is provided to another regulated business.
  • The business must demonstrate that it has security measures and procedures in place to achieve this.
  • Some Known Consignors choose to use examination equipment but this is not a mandatory requirement.
  • The Department of Home Affairs will process applications as quickly as possible. There is a legislated timeframe of 90 days in which the department must make a decision on a Known Consignor. If the department requires more information while assessing your application, the 90 day timeframe may be extended.
  • Find out more about becoming a Known Consignor.

What is piece-level examination?

  • Piece-level examination refers to examination of cargo at a low-level of consolidation before it is packed into unit load devices (ULDs) or onto pallets.
  • There are two approved primary examination methods: X-ray and electronic metal detection.
  • Other secondary examination methods may be available, as determined by your Regulated Air Cargo Agent’s examination notice.
  • The alternative to piece-level examination is the Known Consignor scheme.

Is examination safe for my produce?

  • Air cargo security examination methods are safe for perishable goods.

What exporters or export registered establishments need to do

My business exports agricultural product overseas; what do I need to do? Who do I talk to?

  • Talk to the regulated business (for security purposes) in your current air cargo supply chain (or the person who arranges for your product to be exported).
  • You should find out:
    • if the changes will impact your business
    • if the changes will require you to do something differently
    • what options you have to minimise any impact or disruption.
  • Be aware that your options will depend on several factors. Be prepared to talk about:
    • whether you are exporting a single product, or a variety of different products
    • your product packaging
    • the requirements of the importing country you send your products to
    • any specific requirements that need to be maintained throughout the export process (such as temperature and exposure controls (for example, sealing post-treatment), handling and timeliness).
  • You might want to ask the regulated business:
    • how your cargo is currently examined and does anything need to change
    • what additional costs/fees/charges might you incur and if there are options to reduce them
    • how the changes affect the maintenance of your product’s requirements for market, such as temperature, exposure, phytosanitary treatments, and packaging and sealing
    • if there is anything you can do to minimise intervention
    • will there be any change in how long it takes to examine your cargo
    • what time examination can occur? Will your delivery schedule need to change? Should you prepare for delays as the new requirements commence on 1 March 2019
    • if your consignment must be secured/sealed and cleared under the Export Control Act 1982 prior to uplift onto an aircraft (you can ask them if they can provide this service on your premise after your consignment is examined)
    • what will happen if you do not get these new air cargo security arrangements in place prior to 1 March 2019.

Inspections/requirements under the Export Control Act

To meet importing country requirements, my shipments are currently secured, inspected and/or sealed on my premises before they are exported. Do I need to do something different?

  • Talk to the regulated business (for security purposes) in your air cargo supply chain. They will be able to tell you whether your commodity/current packaging methods allow piece-level examination and whether the integrity of seals/declarations can be maintained.
    • If your product is currently secured, inspected and/or sealed by a Known Consignor then your shipment is considered cleared and doesn’t need piece-level examination.
  • Compliance with export and importing country requirements is a critical part of export eligibility. For many products temperature control is important to ensure product integrity. Discuss your specific requirements with the regulated business (for security purposes).
  • Only a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Authorised Officer or approved container sealing program can seal export shipments to meet importing country requirements.
  • You will need to confirm that the regulated business (for security purposes) is also an export registered establishment for the specific agricultural products you intend to export.
  • If there are issues with your current arrangements, there are options you can consider:
    • Change your packaging so your product is suitable for piece-level examination (so integrity of seals/declarations is maintained). Talk to your regulated business (for security purposes) to confirm what options are available.
    • Apply to become a Known Consignor.
    • In some circumstances, a regulated business (for security purposes) may also be able to perform required government inspections or container sealing activities after piece-level examination on the premise. This includes a Regulated Air Cargo Agent, Accredited Air Cargo Agent or Known Consignors. Talk to your regulated business (for security purposes) to confirm the options available to you.
    • We issue export documents required by Australian export laws and by the importing country authority. Export documents include export permits and certificates. You should factor this process into your export timeframes, as you must have all required documents before you can export your goods. This will be important when dealing with highly perishable or time-sensitive products.
    • This option will not be available to some horticultural exporters in specific circumstances. Examples include if your product originates from within a pest free area and your consignment travels outside of this zone before piece-level examination, or, if your option to apply a treatment is before the cargo is handed to a regulated business (for security purposes).
  • You must meet the requirements of the Export Control Act 1982. They are necessary to meet the conditions set by us and the importing country. You must factor in these requirements when considering your options to adjust to the new security requirements.
​​
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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