Air Cargo Security Changes are Here!

From 1st March 2019, the Australian Government introduced increased security measures around export air cargo from Australia.  As a result, before outbound international air cargo is uplifted onto an aircraft, it must be examined at piece-level.

Due to the measure, potential delays with air cargo movements and additional costs are expected over the coming months. 

 If you export from Australia download our air cargo fact sheet or read our air export guide below to find out more.


The Australian government have placed responsibility on Regulated Air Cargo Agents (RACAs) to examine and clear international air cargo prior to export. The new obligations are set out in an Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE) notice issued by the Department of Home Affairs.

RACAs will screen and clear cargo, producing a Security Declaration for all air export cargo leaving Australia.

How the examinations will work

Currently there are three ways that air cargo will be examined prior to export:

  • Piece-level examination – this means each individual box, carton or other item.
  • Consolidated form – homogeneous cargo packed on pallets (for example boxes stacked and wrapped in plastic) or in unit load devices (ULDs).
  • As an approved Known Consignor – air cargo originating from these companies does not require further examination prior to uplift onto an aircraft.

What is Homogeneous Cargo?

The new requirements for palletised cargo to be homogeneous will have the biggest affect on air cargo exports. 

The Department of Home Affairs has indicated that homogeneous goods are defined as ‘goods being the same product’.

For example, a pallet of 30 cartons containing plastic ballpoint pens would be regarded as homogeneous goods and could be screened as a single piece. A pallet containing 15 cartons of plastic ballpoint pens and 15 cartons of metal ballpoint pens would not be regarded as homogeneous goods and would require breakdown and screening at piece level.

The new screening process

The new screening methods are separated into two categories. Primary examination and Secondary examination.

The approved primary examination methods include:

  • X-ray
  • Electronic Metal Detection (EMD)
  • Explosive Trace Detection (ETD)

The secondary examination process resolves unsatisfactory primary examination outcomes. These methods include:

  • X-ray
  • ETD
  • Physical Inspection

The primary screening method for General cargo is X-ray with Explosive Trace Detection as the secondary method.

The primary screening method for Perishable cargo is Electronic Metal Detection.

Crucial Tip!

It is critical that cargo screening through a metal detector is on plastic or cardboard pallets, as wooden pallets will likely have nails. If pallets need to be repacked, exporters will bear this cost.

Once cargo has been satisfactorily examined, the RACA will produce a Security Declaration, indicating cargo is cleared and ready to be uplifted on an international aircraft.

In order to avoid any unforeseen costs and delays, we highly recommend to follow the process above and engage with an experienced airfreight consultant.

If you need further support understanding how these changes will affect you, contact the ICE team on 1300 CARGO1.

Request a Free Quote or call us on 1300 227 461

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