Moving goods by air
Security for airfreight
If you're exporting consignments by airfreight, your forwarder or small-parcels operator will need to conform with government-regulated security requirements. The current security measures in the UK are regulated by the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. This means that all airfreight consignments must either be screened or originate from a Department for Transport (DfT) accredited known consignor before being loaded onto an aircraft.
To become a known shipper your business needs to be accredited by an inspector approved by the DfT. Once accredited, your consignments (subject to controls) can be treated as known cargo and not ordinarily subject to other security vetting before being loaded onto the aircraft. The known shipper regime isn't mandatory.
Alternatively, you can remain an unknown shipper. Your cargo must be treated as unknown and will be screened either by a regulated agent (freight forwarder) or the airline in question before being loaded.
View a list of regulated agents on the DfT website - Opens in a new window. You can also find information about changes to the regime and how to become a known consignor on the DfT website - Opens in a new window.
The DfT issues a consignment security certificate to known consignors. Read a guide on aviation security training on the DfT website - Opens in a new window.
Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status
If you trade within the European Union as part of an international supply chain and are actively involved in customs operations you can apply for AEO status. The AEO certificate is an internationally recognised quality mark which tells people that your customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant and that you can be considered a secure and reliable trading partner in the supply chain. AEOs may benefit from simplifications provided for under the customs rules, or from facilitations of customs controls relating to security and safety. Read about AEO status in our guide on Authorised Economic Operators.
Airline and shipping companies established outside the European Community which benefit from related customs simplification procedures or hold an internationally recognised security or safety certificate may be considered as already meeting the corresponding criteria. Find out about the granting of AEO certificates to airlines and shipping companies on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website - Opens in a new window.
Subjects covered in this guide
Freight Transport Association Enquiry Line
08717 11 22 22
DfT Enquiry Helpdesk
0300 330 3000
020 7215 8150
HMRC Authorised Economic Operator Central Site Enquiry Line
0845 001 0089