Border delays are especially costly for air shipments and impede aviation’s key advantage: speed. IATA works to provide a standard approach to comply with government regulations that require the provision of cargo information.

Our objective is to help both airlines and forwarders to avoid unnecessary delays at border checkpoints.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) published the SAFE Framework of Standards to enhance the security of the international supply chain and promote trade facilitation. It establishes standards to harmonize Advance Cargo Information (ACI) requirements. Since its adoption in 2005, many countries have started to put into effect ACI conditions, but not always aligned with those WCO standards.

In order to improve the security of the global supply chain, and in accordance with SAFE, an increasing number of countries are shaping legislation to require advance electronic submission of data on goods passing their borders. The Air Cargo Tariff and Rules (TACT) includes an e-Customs section covering ACI, along with specific requirements for countries worldwide.

The IATA Cargo-XML messages are becoming the preferred standard for the fulfillment of customs requirements in ACI filing. This standard is consistent with the WCO Data Model, ensuring compatibility with cross-border regulatory agencies and international organizations.

IATA has developed a specific guidance document to assist with the deployment of ACI programs (pdf), based on the expertise gathered over the past with the worldwide deployment of ACI requirements for air cargo. It has also developed a Recommended Practice and a Manual to assist air cargo stakeholders in their compliance with preloading advance cargo information (PLACI) regulatory requirements. 

ACI requirements may also apply to Mail in some regions, as Mail security is increasingly scrutinized by Customs administrations. 

IATA has established a group of airlines experts in customs matters, the Cargo Customs Working Group (CCWG). This group develops industry position papers and deals with security and customs issues:

IATA welcomes the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that emerged from the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013. The document contains significant trade facilitation requirements and recommendations with regard to customs operations. These are intended to lead, in time, to important reductions in the cost of trade through actions in four main areas:

  • Transparency within the government to promote openness and accountability
  • Simplification to eliminate all unnecessary duplications in trade procedures, and to enable automation of cargo processes
  • Harmonization of national regulations and procedures with international conventions and agreements
  • Standardization of international processes and practices, documents and information agreed by various recognized international bodies

Greater transparency within governments and the resulting improved predictability, as well as harmonization and standardization of procedures, will all have a positive impact for the air cargo industry. 


It can be challenging for airlines to comply with a variety of rules, sanctions and subsequent penalties for non-compliance relating to the export of certain goods as cargo. Failure to address such challenges can lead to severe consequences such as criminal proceedings for airlines and their staff, removal from trusted trader programs and serious damage to reputation. In order to assist airlines in developing appropriate due diligence procedures to manage shipments of so-called dual-use goods, military cargo or embargoed/prohibited/restricted items, IATA has prepared a trade sanctions and export risk mitigation document (pdf) resuming the main principles and regulations applicable to export sanctions. This includes non-exhaustive examples of such sanctions from some of the most prominent governing administrations.