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  4. Cargo Screening

Cargo Screening

Securing the global supply chain, while making sure it runs smoothly, is essential to our national security and economic prosperity. This important system provides the goods that feed our domestic critical infrastructures and support our way of life. Other nations worldwide also rely upon the goods transported by the global supply chain system making it a global asset that all stakeholders must work together to strengthen.

The Department is utilizing a multi-layered approach to air cargo security, including improved screening requirements for known and established shippers, explosive detection canine teams, and covert tests and no-notice inspections of cargo operations.

The National Strategy for Global Supply chain security establishes two goals:

  • Promote the efficient and secure movement of goods   
  • Develop a global supply chain system that is prepared for and can withstand evolving threats and hazards, and rapidly recovery from disruptions.

As we work to achieve our goals, we have taken action and integrated efforts across the United States Government and with other key stakeholders. In addition, we continue and improve our risk management efforts.

The international community has also made significant progress in protecting the global supply chain through Program Global Shield, which was launched in 2011 in collaboration with the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Interpol.

Container Security Initiative (CSI) is a program intended to help increase security for containerized cargo shipped to the United States from around the world. CSI addresses the threat to border security and global trade posed by the potential for terrorist use of a maritime container to deliver a weapon. CSI allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), working with host government Customs Services, to examine high-risk maritime containerized cargo at foreign seaports, before they are loaded on board vessels destined for the United States.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for making sure the security of all modes of transportation, including cargo placed aboard airplanes and particularly focuses on passenger-carrying planes.

Cargo screening

  • As required by the 9/11 Act, 100 percent of all cargo transported on passenger aircraft departing U.S. airports is now screened commensurate with screening of passenger checked baggage.  
  • International inbound air cargo is more secure than it has ever been, with 100 percent of identified high risk cargo being screened.
  • CBP now screens 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash, has expanded Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) coverage to the entire Southwest border and completed 651 miles of fencing.
  • CBP has deployed Radiation Portal Monitors and other radiation detection technologies to seaports, land border ports, and mail facilities around the world.  In 2003, these systems scanned only 68 percent of arriving trucks and passenger vehicles along the Northern border, no systems were deployed to the Southwest border, and only one was deployed to a seaport.  Today, these systems scan 100 percent of all containerized cargo and personal vehicles arriving in the U.S. through land ports of entry, as well as over 99 percent of arriving sea containers. 

International Partnerships

  • In February 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper of Canada released the joint declaration "Beyond the Border: Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness."  As part of the implementation plan in May 2012, the United States and Canada achieved mutual recognition of our respective air cargo security programs.   
  • In 2010, Presidents Obama and Mexico President Calderon issued a Declaration on 21st Century Border Management, to pursue initiatives that will expedite the legitimate flow of people and goods and focus law enforcement resources on people and goods that represent the highest risk or about which officials know the least.
  • As part of Program Global Shield, 90 participating nations and international organizations—including Brazil—share information in an unprecedented law enforcement effort aimed at combating the theft or illegal diversion of chemicals that can be used to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). As of July 2012, Program Global Shield has accounted for 41 seizures of chemical precursors totaling more than 126 metric tons related to the illicit diversion of these chemicals.
  • In 2011, Secretary Napolitano launched a Department of Homeland Security partnership with the World Customs Organization to enlist other nations, international bodies and the private sector in increasing the security of the global supply chain through a series of new initiatives to make the system stronger, smarter and more resilient. This includes:
    • Adapting inbound cargo targeting rules to reflect the latest intelligence
    • Prohibiting high risk cargo on passenger aircraft
    • Implementing additional and enhanced screening for all cargo identified as high risk
    • Working with the private sector and international partners to enhance the sharing of advance cargo data and electronic shipping information
Last Updated: 07/25/2022
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