Importance of TSA Known Shipper vs. Unknown Shipper

Importance of TSA Known vs. Unknown Shippers

Since the unfolding of the tragic events of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has created regulations to maintain safety in all domestic and international air transportation. After these rules were created, they were passed to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to manage. These regulations were formed into a program known today as the “TSA Known Shipper” program. The program exists to promote security for shipments moving via airway. Those who move goods frequently by air may find it worthwhile to converse with their local freight forwarder or NVOCC about how they can be listed as a Known Shipper.

Becoming a Known Shipper has one primary (and largely beneficial) advantage: TSA Known Shippers are allowed to move their cargo via cargo-only OR passenger aircrafts. Businesses can be registered as a Known Shipper through their activities with indirect air carriers, aircraft operations, and air carrier. They are evaluated based on their history of shipments, contracts, past customs records, and their Dun and Bradstreet Vetting (which is tied to a firm’s credit score.)

Cargo-Only vs. Passenger Aircrafts

As the name implies, a cargo-only aircraft is an air vessel created solely for the purpose of transporting goods. The planes are significantly larger than the average passenger aircraft and they never carry any people (other than necessary staffing pilots and copilots.) As most shippers have experienced, shipping on these types of air vessels can get pricey and there are less lane options than the alternative option – passenger aircrafts.

Passenger aircrafts are planes that move people – the same planes you board at your city’s airport terminal. Since the space beneath the plane far exceeds the amount of baggage brought by passengers, TSA has opened the extra room to be occupied by TSA registered “Known Shippers.” In addition to this, passenger aircrafts have much higher availability, since planes leave on international endeavors from every state on a bi-hourly basis, as opposed to cargo-only planes which move less frequently. This higher availability and exclusivity to TSA Known Shippers makes for lower shipping prices as well. If you decide to ship on a passanger aircraft, remember that these planes can only hold cargo up to 63 inches tall.

How to Get Onto the Known Shipper List

In a sense, it can be a long and difficult process to make your way onto the Known Shipper list. With the requirements for reported past activity and historic business records, TSA demands a large surmount of information before allowing any manufacturer or distributor to make their way into the Known Shipper program. Another benefit of being listed on this program is that Known Shippers can avoid many types of delays, extra costs, and have a larger amount of options available. Being limited to shipping cargo via cargo-only aircrafts limits your options greatly and can be a detriment to your company’s transportation budgets and deadlines.

If any of the above benefits associated with the Known Shipper program are attractive to you, it may be time to register to be on the list. The procedure can be quick and easy if you have the right connections. Take time to speak with your freight forwarder or NVOCC to ask them what if this is a service they can provide. At Interlog USA, we value relationships and streamlining the shipping processes of all our clients. We would be happy to talk if you have a long shipping history and are interested in getting your business’s name into the Known Shipper program.


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