Why forwarders should invest in ACAS

Logistics companies are able to further enhance the quality of their air cargo services to the USA by participating in the dual filing system ACAS. Author: James Fernandez, VP Global Commercial Operations, CHAMP Cargosystems

In the past ten years the economic and legal environment has changed considerably for freight forwarders. We now live in a world of intense regulation, getting more complex and complicated every day. For many a shipper it has become almost too challenging to keep abreast with new legislation, especially in the area of customs, security and compliance. The US government, for example, continues to tighten security legislation and enhance risk-based targeting step by step.


Whilst the forwarding community bemoans the costs of implementing all the new rules it will has to bend with the wind and comply with legislation if it wants to stay in business. Some forwarders have even discovered the benefits of the flourishing security and customs legislation as a motor to developing additional value-adding services. Customs clearance are daily business for many and this experience can help the shipper to further improve their processes in terms of cost efficiency.


The global logistics service provider Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) is one of a growing number of forwarders that pro-actively files all air cargo shipments bound for the USA according to ACAS (Air Cargo Advanced Screening) dual filing requirements as part of its quality airfreight services.


How does it work?

On receipt of a shipment order the airfreight department transmits the House Air Waybill data to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to launch enhanced screening prior loading. When K+N receives the ACAS response (PSN) the company proceeds with consolidation and delivery to the air carrier. If there would be problems with the shipment the logistics services provider would be able to solve these pro-actively before tendering the shipment to the carrier. This prevents shipments being either refused by the carrier or being held up in customs on arrival in the USA.


"Kuehne + Nagel participates in the ACAS dual filing project to detect high risk

shipments and customs clearance problems as early as possible in the supply chain

process. We consider it our duty to solve any problems that might arise from a product,

supplier or recipient pro-actively for our customers as quickly as possible after

receiving their orders“, explains Michael Weber, Vice President Interfaces and

Processes, Air Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel Management AG.


So far, primarily the integrators as well as the larger, global forwarders have invested in the necessary software to meet ACAS dual filing requirements.  Shippers will give preference to logistics service providers that can make sure their cargo arrives just in time and is not held up in US customs, incurring storage costs, loss of reputation, and annoying the customer.


What solutions are available?

Several software houses offer solutions to facilitate the message exchange with the

US CBP. The solutions are usually available on a SaaS basis.


K+N has opted for a CHAMP Cargosystems application. The solution transmits IATA C/XML messages (XFZB) directly from K+N’s enterprise system to US CBP without manual intervention thereby optimizing data quality. It also transmits the CBP response messages back to K+N.


K+N has opted for IATA Cargo-XML as it better facilitates the implementation and adoption of e-cargo initiatives such as the electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) or e-freight. It also supports  compliance to customs and security requirements by giving more flexibility in providing complete data elements.


Participation in the ACAS dual filing scheme should be of interest to all forwarders with a substantial volume of shipments to the USA. It should be part of a forwarder’s quality management system such as ISO and AEO certification. The appropriate IT solutions

enable logistics services providers, big and small, to give a better service to their customers, to improve supply chain visibility and control over their data, to speed up transport processes and avoid shipments being held up on arrival in the USA.





Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS)

US CBP (Customs and Border protection) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have implemented programs to jointly screen air cargo shipments inbound to the United States in order to further reduce the risk of terrorist attacks and raise air cargo supply chain security. The Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) project allows CBP and TSA to receive advance security filing cargo data for shipments that might be high risk and require additional physical screening under the appropriate regulatory framework and protocols well ahead of flight departure. ACAS enables express carriers, passenger air carriers, freight forwarders, and all-cargo 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:


-       Two-Part Carrier Filing – Air carrier transmits advance shipment data for security filing while subsequently transmitting post-departure Automated Manifest System (AMS) data in accordance with Trade Act requirements.


-       Forwarder and Carrier Dual Filing – Freight forwarder may transmit House Air Waybill data directly to CBP to meet pre-loading targeting and manifest requirements; forwarder 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.


-       Single Filing of ACAS and AMS data – Air carriers transmit the AMS manifest 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 requirements.



XML standard

XML provides a standardized approach for describing, capturing, processing and publishing business information. It has become a widespread mechanism for structuring and exchanging data in many industries. Amongst its many benefits, it reduces the cost of infrastructure and communication as well as the support and maintenance costs. The Cargo eXtensible Markup Language (Cargo-XML) standards are a crucial component to the successful implementation of e-AWB processes.

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