Understanding TSA Known Shipper

Understanding TSA Known Shipper

As stated in previous blog posts, TSA Known Shipper has been quite the hot topic as of recently. With customs demands increasing and the need for faster, more efficient shipping solutions than ever before, understanding TSA Known Shipper is becoming a “must” for companies that want to streamline their air freight options.

Cargo airplanes help to get freight internationally from point A to point B fast. But the issue still remains – vessels get booked up fast and cargo airplanes are no exception. Airway shipping is meant to move products quickly, but it can defeat the purpose when you still need to plan far in advance to get any capacity. Those who are registered as a TSA Known Shipper, however, are able to ship on both cargo airplanes and passenger aircraft.

Who Can Register Someone as a Known Shipper?

Understanding TSA Known Shipper registration can be a bit tricky. There is a formalized, approved list of TSA Known Shippers, but there is no formalized application process. So how do you apply to be a Known Shipper? Get in touch with an Indirect Air Carrier, or IAC.

Indirect Air Carrier

Many freight forwarders and NVOCC’s are also Indirect Air Carriers. These are companies that indirectly engage with shipping via airway without owning any of the aircrafts themselves. Since Indirect Air Carriers, or IACs, work frequently with airlines, TSA has entrusted them with the task of submitting customers for approval to become a Known Shipper.

Indirect Air Carriers like Interlog USA, Inc. are able to help anyone – not just our own customers – with the process of becoming a Known Shipper. An IAC simply needs verification that your company has a history of shipping via air, no substantial legal violations in regards to transportation, and no affiliations with companies/organizations that may raise red flags to TSA. They are letting you put goods on an aircraft with passengers – they need to make sure your business is safe.

Known Shipper Registration Process

Understanding TSA Known Shipper process is a bit difficult. As stated, there is no formal application – it needs to start with a conversation with an IAC like Interlog USA, Inc. If you are trying to become a known shipper, the process can be simple or complex depending on the availability of information you have. Your IAC will fill you in on the specific details they require, but make sure that you have as many shipping records as possible at your finger tips. TSA will want to see a lot of documentation and proof of your validity as a company.

After all of this is submitted to your IAC for TSA Known Shipper list approval, TSA may take anywhere from 24 hours to a couple weeks to approve your application. It all depends on if any red flags are raised in the process, information is missing, or they have a long backlog of companies awaiting approval.

Cargo Screening

As you can imagine, TSA cares about security… A lot. With any international shipments, your cargo is eligible to be inspected by Customs. However, when shipping on passenger aircrafts, your cargo is bound to be inspected in detail by TSA and Customs. Being a Known Shipper doesn’t get you out of cargo screenings.

The Certified Cargo Screening Program allows cargo to be screened by screening facilities in the United States prior to the cargo being loaded on a passenger aircraft. This allows screening to happen efficiently while providing a great deal of security to TSA, other shippers, and passengers aboard an international aircraft.


Becoming a TSA Known Shipper can be a little bit of a tricky process, but it really boils down to a few, simple, practical steps. Get in touch with an Indirect Air Carrier, gather all documents relating to your business validity, and get access to your shipping records. From there, TSA or your freight forwarder will give you further instructions on any next steps. Expect that getting on the TSA Known Shipper list can take anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks, but once you are approved, you can begin shipping on passenger aircrafts!

If you would like to be registered as a TSA Known Shipper, or just want to learn more about the subject and its benefits, call one of our team members! We are very experienced in helping people become TSA Known Shippers and are also a well-seasoned IAC for those who ship a lot of air freight. We look forward to chatting with you!


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