Since August 2010, US law has required physical screening for 100% of cargo loaded onto passenger planes flying from, within, or to the United States.

  • This 100% screening mandate has been met for cargo loaded onto passenger planes flying within, or departing from, the United States.
  • Because of limited jurisdiction and resources, TSA originally announced that the requirement for cargo loaded onto passenger planes flying into the United States would not be implemented for several years. The air cargo bombing plot in October 2010, however, caused TSA to reconsider the timetable for implementing the screening requirement for inbound cargo and to announce a new implementation deadline of December 31, 2011.
  • It is unclear whether and how TSA can enforce this requirement for inbound flights; many stakeholders believe that the 100% screening mandate for inbound flights is impractical.
    • One option under consideration is for TSA to enter into mutual recognition agreements – on either a bilateral or multilateral basis – with foreign partners. While TSA has begun discussions of such arrangements, completing these agreements will be a time – and resource – intensive undertaking that is highly unlikely to be complete by the end of this year.
    • Another option is for TSA to require airlines to ensure that inbound cargo is screened by contracting with screeners in overseas locations. TSA would like to put the airlines “on the hook” for the screening work undertaken by overseas screeners; the airlines understandably would prefer that TSA directly regulate oversees screeners rather than forcing the airlines into the job.