Live Unload The Ultimate FAQ Guide 6

Known Shipper: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

Let’s look at yet another important freight term – known shipper.

If you have any question about known shipper, you will find the answer right here.

So keep reading to learn more.

What Is A Known Shipper?

 Known Shipper

Known Shipper

The Transport Security Administration (TSA) requires any shipper to transport cargo on passenger aircraft from the U.S. To be included in the database that lists known shippers.

This database contains names of any shipper legally allowed to export cargo from the U.S. via a passenger aircraft.

Thus, explaining what we mean by a known shipper. To expound further, here is a brief explanation.

A known shipper management system is a program established by the Transport Security Administration (TSA). To make use of the extra space left after loading cargo in passenger aircraft.

To make this move efficient & effective. The Transport Security Administration had to come up with proper standards.

To help the cargo in a bid to ensure the safety of the passengers and cargo in the aircraft.

That said. A known shipper refers to a person who has permission to ship goods in a passenger air carrier from the U.S.

Who Administers The Known Shipper Program?

The Federal Aviation Administration first initiated the Known shipper program due to the 9/11 tragic events.

Afterwards, TSA took over in the program’s administration, whose purpose is to ensure air cargo security.

TSA is responsible for evaluating and selecting qualified shippers for the known shipper status in the U.S., Thus enabling them to have privileges when shipping cargo through air.

What Is The Difference Between a Known Shipper And An Unknown Shipper?

A known shipper is a person that has been listed in the known shipper database by the Transport Security Administration.

The TSA ensures that they evaluate and select individuals to be listed in the known shipper database based on factors such as;

  • Their previous customs history -Having a customs history places you in a better position to be approved for the known status.
  • Shipment history – Same as the customs history, a shipment history will back up your application and increase your chances of being approved.
  • Contracts
  • Dun and Bradstreet vetting

Known shippers get to enjoy a wide variety of benefits—one of the main ones being the ability to transport their cargo via passenger and cargo aircraft.

On the other hand, an unknown shipper is not included in the known shipper database. Meaning, they only have one option for shipping their cargo, which is via cargo aircraft.

In addition to that, an unknown shipper must name their cargo and supporting documents. “UNKNOWN SHIPPER, CARGO AIRCRAFT ONLY” when shipping their cargo.

It is just one of the many advantages of being a known shipper that we shall look at later in this guide.

Why Was The Known Shipper Program Established?

After the occurrence of the catastrophic incident of 9/11, the known shipper program was established. To ensure the security of the cargo and passengers.

Aside from this, another purpose for establishing it was to use the available space left in the passenger aircraft.

It was realized that once passengers’ luggage was loaded, there was a huge amount of space left. Therefore, using space to ship cargo became a brilliant idea.

TSA had to evaluate each individual and assess whether they meet the requirements for being included in the database for known shippers.

Additionally, the TSA saw that every standard was adhered to be successfully and safely executed.

Is It Cheaper To Ship Under Known Shipper Status?

Shipping under known shipper status is quite beneficial in several aspects: cheap cargo shipping.

As we all know, airfreight is the most expensive means of transport that you can use to ship cargo.

You must know that shipping your cargo via a cargo aircraft becomes expensive compared to shipping via passenger aircraft.

That said, it’s easy to see why known shipper status is beneficial.

You will get to enjoy faster shipping and more flexibility, but also the availability of diverse options and reasonable rates.

What Are Some Other Benefits Of Being A Known Shipper?

A known shipper has several advantages that unknown shippers lack. Such benefits include;

  • Timely delivery – You are bound to experience faster delivery if you are a known shipper, and here is why.

Globally, there are more passenger planes as opposed to cargo aircraft. What’s more, the passenger aircraft take more trips as compared to cargo planes. Thus they can ship and transport several people and goods.

In addition to that, most if not all-cargo aircraft use fewer routes to travel, therefore slowing down your shipping process.

That said, having the opportunity to use passenger planes to ship your cargo dramatically benefits you and your business.

  • Additional options –Known shippers have the opportunity to ship cargo on both passengers and cargo ships and enjoy faster transit times.
  • Cheaper rates and costs – Passenger aircraft are funded by the shippers and passengers, minimizing overall costs.

In addition to that, known shippers have two shipping options which place them in a better position. In case of unnecessary rate fluctuations by cargo planes.

  • Less hassle – As an unknown shipper, you should be ready to pass through several thorough checkups and screenings.

Known shippers are saved from such hassles by having their cargo X-rayed, just like passenger baggage.

  • More flexibility – Being a known shipper is quite flexible as you have options if a client decides to adjust your shipping schedule.

The available options allow you to meet deadlines regardless of any adjustments made.

  • Fewer delays and efficiency – A know shipper will experience fewer delays than unknown shippers due to regulatory reasons.

What Is A Known Shipper Number?

To ship cargo outside the U.S. via a passenger aircraft, you need to be a known shipper.

Every known shipper is assigned a number that helps identify them as a known shipper and is used in making bookings.

What Are The Requirements For Becoming A Known Shipper?

There are no solid requirements that TSA has publicized.

The reason behind this secrecy is abiding by the policy and ensuring safety for domestic and international travel.

It, in turn, facilitates adequate vetting of the shippers.

However, we can generalize TSA’s factors when individuals or companies apply to become known shippers.  They include;

  • Secure Infrastructure
  • Security threat assessment
  • Background checks
  • Access controls
  • Security and awareness training
  • Supervision at sites for air cargo as well as staff working in air cargo

Again, keep in mind that there is no detailed information about what’s strictly required by the TSA.

Your freight forwarder can offer you additional advice on what factors you should consider when applying to become a known shipper.

How Do I Apply For Known Shipper?

The process of becoming a known shipper can be complex or straightforward based on the amount of information you have.

IAC will require you to present as many documents as you can.

This including a history of your shipping records and enough documentation to prove the validity of your business.

Once you are done submitting the necessary documents and information.

TSA will go through your application and decide whether or not to approve it.

This might take from 24 hours to a few weeks before your approval status is communicated. The period taken to approve might differ based on factors such as;

  • Length of Queue of other companies
  • Missing information
  • Any red flags are being raised during the process.

Keep in mind that if you resell goods, there are minimal chances of your application being approved.

The reason being re-sale goods are considered to have many risks.  That said if you are a manufacturer.

You have a higher probability of being approved as compared to an individual who resells goods.

In addition to that, having experience with airfreight shipping provides you with a good chance of being approved.

A freight forwarder can guide you in the application process by providing you with advice and answers to your questions.

Working with freight forwarders allows for a faster application process with TSA.

What Would I Need To Become A TSA Known Shipper?

Becoming a known shipper is not a walk in the park. There is a lot of information or documentation you will need to present.

TSA will examine your business to assess whether it meets the requirements for attaining the known shipper status.

Having knowledge and access to your shipping history and data records might be beneficial to the TSA professionals. It helps investigating your business will be of importance.

Being a manufacturer of goods with experience in airfreight is an added advantage when applying for this process compared to a goods reseller.

It’s because manufacturers can quickly provide valid information on the nature of their goods and prove their safety.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Known Shipper?

There are several steps to be taken when applying to become a known shipper.

Often, the length of time to become a known shipper will range from a week to several weeks. This will depend on how fast your documents are received.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Known Shipper?

Becoming a known shipper involves several processes. The first one is filling and submitting a known shipper request form.

After that, the information that you provide will be verified via the TSA database. Any site inspection conducted will attract a fee of not less than $75 or more.

How Long Is A Known Shipper Status Valid For?

After your known shipper status is approved, it will be valid for one year. You will need to renew your Known status every year to retain the known shipper status.

In as much as acquiring a known status might be challenging. I cannot stress enough how beneficial a known shipper status is to your shipping processes.

More so in terms of flexibility and efficiency.

Do I Need To Be A TSA Known Shipper For U.S. Airfreight Imports?

No. It is not a must for you to be a TSA known shipper when importing to the U.S. via airfreight.

Only US registered businesses and residents are required to register with TSA. It’s done to ensure that the cargo being shipped is safe to aircraft staff and passengers in the planes.

What Are The Limitations To What I Can Ship As A Known Shipper?

It’s vital to understand that in as much as known shipper status is beneficial, it also has its downside.

To begin with, you are limited to the size of cargo you can ship via a passenger aircraft.

For instance, you cannot cargo vessels above 62H inches or longer than 125 Long inches.

Failure to observe this measurement will result in your cargo being prevented from being shipped in passenger aircraft.

Cargo aircraft are specifically designed to accommodate cargo, and therefore they allow diverse dimensions and weight of cargo to be shipped.

Let’s have a quick look at the Boeing 747 freighter.

It’s a maximum height of 300 centimetres for every piece of cargo, while the 747-passenger aircraft has a size of 160 centimeters.

From this example, it’s easy to conclude that you are not always guaranteed a known shipper.

Before deciding on the aircraft to use, ensure that you are aware of the dimensions of your cargo.

Are There Exceptions For Shipments Not Requiring Shippers To Be Known?

Yes, some shipments will not need you to have a known status. Such loads are not limited to;

  • Shipment transported via cargo flights
  • A live animal
  • Shipments moving around Alaska
  • A package that’s either 16 ounces or below.
  • Medical shipments.

Does Being A Known Shipper Exempt Me From Cargo Screenings?

No. While there are several benefits of having a known status, exemption from cargo screenings isn’t one.

Just like other goods and passenger baggage being transported in the passenger aircraft, your cargo will need to be screened.

Together with the port customs.

The TSA will carefully examine your cargo and ensure that all the requirements are met, to ensure safety on the plane.

The screening of cargo happens before they are loaded in the passenger aircraft, thereby facilitating the efficiency of the operation.

What Should I Do If I Can’t Get The Known Shipper Status?

It is never guaranteed that you will be approved to get a known status. Therefore, in case you are not among the selected ones. You shouldn’t lose hope yet as there are several other alternative options you could take.

First, you need to remember that you still have the option of shipping via a cargo aircraft. Shipping your goods through a cargo aircraft will not require you to have the known shipper status.

Nevertheless, due to the downsizing of the commercial airline fleet in the U.S.

The number of domestic air freighters left is very minimal if they still exist.

It poses a challenge to the unknown shippers as they have fewer options to choose from.

Secondly, you can work with a freight forwarder and open an account with them. Your freight forwarder will help submit your business information to the DHS for them to review.

Upon submitting, the response as to whether you’ve been accepted or rejected will be communicated after a few minutes or so.

What Is The Difference Between Known Shipper And Known Consignor Status?

A known shipper and a known consignor are two different statuses that might sound to be similar.

A known shipper is entitled to ship their cargo via passenger flights and cargo flights approved by TSA.

On the other hand, a known consignor refers to an individual or company that ship’s cargo on their account.

A known consignor will be required to meet the required standards of security. As well as the regulations for the specific cargo they are shipping.

Loading cargo into a Boeing 747
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Known Consignor

What Steps Should I Take To Become A Known Shipper For Business?

Typically, TSA already recognizes businesses as known.  For you to qualify for a known shipper status, your business needs to be TSA recognized.

Here are some steps to take to become a known shipper as a business.

  • Submit your application electronically via your phone to your cargo operators. Who will then contact TSA to establish whether you are known under TSA.

Below are some of the information that might be required when submitting your application.

  • Physical address
  • Full name
  • A valid email address
  • Your phone number
  • A mailing address (if applicable)
  • Primary shipping station
  • Suppose you are known under the TSA. You will be given a customer identification number, and you can commence shipping once your status reflects in the system.

On the other hand, if you happen to be an unknown shipper, your air cargo operator can appeal on your behalf.

This, however, might vary depending on different air cargo services. For instance, Alaska air cargo does appeal on behalf of their client’s business.

Nonetheless, after appealing, it might take several weeks to hear from the TSA. If your status is still not updated to known, you can discuss other options with your air cargo operator.

An IAC can Be A Known Shipper?

Whether it’s a foreign air carrier, IAC, adhering to security requirements must be applied qualify their clients to a known shipper status.

If you are a shipper wishing to ship your cargo via air transport, your transportation service provider can assist you in becoming a known shipper.

What Is The Purpose Of KSMS?

KSMS (Known Shipper Management System) is a program used to approve shippers to ship their cargo via passenger.

KSMS also ensures that both domestic, as well as international airline safety and security, are upheld.

Known Shipper Management System

Known Shipper Management System

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