What is the regulated air cargo agent (RACA) scheme?
A business is a RACA if the business:
- handles, or makes arrangements for the transportation of cargo to be carried on a prescribed aircraft
- examines, in accordance with an ACE or EACE notice, air cargo to be carried on a prescribed aircraft, and
- is designated as a RACA under regulation 4.43A.
If a business wants to examine air cargo it must first apply to become a RACA.
What is changing and why?
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) re-evaluated Australia's air cargo security arrangements and determined that Australia's current arrangements did not meet the US Government requirement to examine 100 per cent of inbound air cargo at piece-level.
As a result, a number of new programs have been introduced to ensure Australia is able to meet the TSAs requirements. These programs include the Known Consignor program and the Enhanced Air Cargo Examination (EACE) program.
A business that wants to examine cargo at piece-level must apply to the Department to be formally authorised and issued the EACE notice. Approval to examine US-bound air cargo will be granted once the business has undergone an assessment and formal validation by the Department to ensure it can meet the requirements of the EACE notice and comply with the RACA Security Program.
How does the RACA Scheme differ from the accredited air cargo agent (AACA) scheme?
AACAs are not issued an ACE or EACE notice and therefore cannot examine air cargo. AACAs can handle, store and consolidate air cargo but cannot examine air cargo and therefore issue a Security Declaration. Only RACAs operating under the ACE or EACE notices can do this. AACAs, under the terms of their security programs may still maintain regular customer arrangements and are required to provide proof of secure handling to a CTO when presenting freight for uplift onto international air services.
Who should consider becoming a RACA?
Any business wishing to handle, store, consolidate
and examine air cargo regardless of what country it is bound for.
Who can participate in the RACA Scheme?
Only businesses that have submitted an application to become a RACA, undergone validation by the Department and approved, can participate in the RACA Scheme. A RACA must also apply for either the ACE notice for cargo terminal operators only or the EACE notice depending on their business type. In some circumstances, both the ACE and EACE notices can be issued concurrently . More information can be provided after initial contact is made with the Department when considering whether to become, or remain, a RACA.
How do you become, or remain, a RACA?
A business that wishes to examine air cargo, and has the capability to do so, must apply to the Department using an application form. The application will be considered by the Department and the business notified within 90 days of the application being made.
What equipment do I need to be a RACA?
Methods of examination are separated into primary and secondary categories whereby a primary method is the first method that must be applied, unless a piece of cargo is unsuitable for that method . Secondary methods that must be used to resolve unsatisfactory examination outcomes achieved via primary examination. A RACA must possess, as a minimum, one primary and one secondary approved method of examination. The approved examination methods for use by a RACA are:
- X-ray examination
- Electronic Metal Detection
- Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) examination
- Physical examination (internal)
- X-ray examination
- Electronic Metal Detection
When conducting examination under the EACE program, an examination officer must not use the same method for primary and secondary examination. If after initial examination, an examination officer is satisfied that a piece of cargo does not contain unauthorised explosives, the piece may receive clearance. If the primary examination is unsatisfactory or unresolved, then a secondary method must be used until a piece of air cargo can be cleared in accordance with the prescriptions of the EACE notice.
How do I get information on what equipment is best?
The Department has developed an Air Cargo Examination Equipment List (ACEEL), which is intended as a reference document to provide guidance to air cargo industry participants that may desire to pursue examination capability. The document is intended to provide recipients that have an interest in the acquisition of air cargo examination equipment with a degree of direction and guidance to inform their procurement decision making.
Before making a decision to acquire examination equipment it is important that you make your own enquiries with equipment vendors regarding the performance and suitability of the examination equipment to ensure it meets your commercial, operational, and international examination requirements. Specific enquiries should be made with regard to throughput, alarm rates, ongoing costs such as preventative maintenance and consumables, test piece, equipment specifications, maintenance requirements, licensing requirements, building and delivery lead times and to verify certification status.
The ACEEL lists the manufacturer, model and (for X-ray) the tunnel width and height of each of the approved devices. To ensure a robust security outcome, the Aviation and Maritime Security Division will continue to collaborate with equipment manufacturers to ensure that where equipment requirements continue to evolve and equipment approved for use in cargo screening by the TSA for the purposes of security screening will be recognised by the Australian Government.
To gain access to the ACEEL or for more information please email
Will the Government charge a business to become a RACA?
No. The Application and inspection by the Department will not incur any cost by the businesses.
Note: There will be start-up costs associated with becoming a RACA. These may include:
- creation of security procedures and documentation
- installation of security related equipment or signage, and
- training employees.
Do I need to be trained or train my staff?
Yes. There are specific training requirements for examination officers as well as staff who require general security awareness training. The Department provides guidance on the requisite training requirements for staff undertaking examination to ensure that they are competent in the examination task.
What security measures are required of RACAs?
RACAs must comply with the security requirements outlined in the RACA Security Program issued under 4.46 of the Regulations.
Items outlined in the Security Program include:
- measures and procedures to ensure security of facilities
- measures and procedures to ensure security of personnel
- training requirements and procedures for personnel
- measures and procedures for clearing cargo
- measures and procedures to ensure the chain of custody for cargo
- measures and procedures for handling high risk cargo, and
- measures and procedures for oversight of the operation of the measures, procedures and requirements , including quality assurance and incident response.
What happens if I do not comply with the RACA Security Program?
There are strict penalties for non-compliance with the RACA Security Program, the
Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005.
What if not all my sites have the capability to examine cargo?
In their Security Program, a RACA must list all sites covered by their program. However, the sites where they are allowed to examine cargo will be specified in the particular ACE or EACE notice issued to the RACA.
How do I get further information?
The Aviation and Maritime Security Division, formerly the Office of Transport Security can be contacted via:
Phone: 1300 791 581
Need more information?
All general enquiries regarding the AACA, RACA and Known Consignor schemes need to be directed to the Guidance Centre, by:
Phone: 1300 791 581
For submissions of new applications, renewals, variations or revocation requests (together with any required documentation), or to check the status of an already submitted application, please contact:
AACAs - firstname.lastname@example.org
RACAs and examination - email@example.com
Known consignors - firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Home Affairs
Aviation and Maritime Security Division
PO Box 25
Belconnen ACT 2616