Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Air Automated Manifest System (AAMS)

What is the Air Automated Manifest System (AAMS)?

  • Effective August 13, 2004, the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin requiring pre-advance electronic presentation of all Master Air Waybill (MAWB) and House Air Waybill (HAWB) data via the Automated Manifest System for air transport prior to the cargo arriving at the first United States airport of entry.
  • This cargo information will be required in advance electronic presentation for all air import shipments that transit or terminate in the United States.
  • The information needs to be transmitted four hours prior to arrival for continental flights or at “wheels up” from NAFTA countries and from locations north of the equator in Central and South America.   
  • The United States AAMS regulation is also mandatory for cargo loaded on aircrafts with technical stops on U.S. soil, e.g. in Anchorage en-route to Asia from Europe - so-called FROB (Freight Remains On Board) - and for cargo being trans-shipped via United States airports.
  • The AAMS is the latest in a number of security programs designed to reduce security risks related to cargo imported into the United States.
  • The AAMS regulations are mandated in the United States Trade Act of 2002 and the CBP published the final rule December 5, 2003.


How does Air AMS differ from Ocean AMS?

  • The AAMS program parallels the Customs Security Initiative CSI/24-hour rule for ocean containers with one major exception: ocean shipments destined for the United States must submit advance electronic presentation of cargo information at least 24 hours prior to departure of the vessel.


What will the impact be for exporting companies?

  • Exporting companies may expect export transit delays as protective measures are implemented.
  • Freight forwarders and airlines are fully dependent on exporting companies to provide them with the correct information to ensure timely and proper filing.   Three elements of particular importance:
    • Real Shipper and Consignee Names & Addresses
    • Precise Nature of Goods
    • Quantity
  • The responsibility to provide correct data falls with the exporting company.


What is a ‘Complete Address’?

  • For security reasons CBP requires a complete address description:
    • All names and addresses are to be in their English translation.
    • Temporary addresses like General Delivery, in care of (C/O), and hotel or trade shows are not to be used.
    • P.O. Box addresses are not acceptable.
    • All elements of the name and address should be spelled out in their entirety unless specifically instructed to do otherwise.
    • Abbreviations are not to be used unless instructed otherwise and only those forms of abbreviation supported by the UTi Customer Data Entry Directive or the United States Postal Service "Zip Code Directory" are to be used.


What is a ‘Real Shipper Address’?

  • CBP will accept as the shipper on the house bill of lading the identity of the foreign vendor, supplier, manufacturer, or other similar party. The shipper’s address must be a foreign address.
  • CBP requires detailed shipper information on each air waybill record for the purpose of targeting high-risk shipments.
  • CBP will not accept the carrier, NVOCC, freight forwarder or consolidator as valid house level information on the identity of the shipper.


What is a ‘Real Consignee Address’?

  • CBP regulation determines carriers/forwarders will have to report the actual final consignee/delivery address. This means that a Letter of Credit mentioning a bank as consignee cannot be recognized. Furthermore, goods cannot be consigned any longer to the foreign importer C/O (care of) a UTi office and address in the United States.
  • CBP requires that if the cargo has not yet been sold or is shipped to “order”, and there is no consignee information, then the Notify Party field on the bill of lading must include the identity of a responsible party in the United States. Such a responsible party could include any other commercial party that is listed in the bill of lading for delivery or contact purposes.
  • Temporary addresses like General Delivery, in care of (C/O), and hotel or trade shows are not to be used.
  • P.O. Box addresses are not acceptable.


What is ‘Precise Nature of Goods’?

  • CBP requires a “precise description and weight of the cargo or, for a sealed container, the shipper’s declared description and weight of the cargo.”
  • A precise narrative description is a description that is specific enough for CBP to be able to identify the shapes, physical characteristics, and likely packaging of the manifested cargo so that CBP can identify any anomalies in the cargo when a container is run through imaging equipment.  
  • The description must also be precise enough to identify any goods which may emit radiation.    How specific that information must be depends on the nature of the commodity.   For example, "electronics" is not a precise description, but "CD players" or "computer monitors" would be.
  • UNACCEPTABLE wording for ‘Precise Nature of Goods” descriptions:
    • A blank description
    • Freight of All Kinds (FAK)
    • Said to contain (STC) with or without other description
    • General merchandise, “26 pallets”
    • Various retail merchandise
    • Consolidated cargo
    • Similarly vague descriptions
  • The goods description on the commercial documents needs to match the ‘Precise Nature of Goods’ description on the shipping documents (as described above) for legal/customs reasons.
  • It is recommended that exporting companies provide the (6-digit) HTS code as part of the goods description.


What are some examples of ‘Precise Nature of Goods’?

Not Acceptable (EXAMPLES ONLY) Acceptable (EXAMPLES ONLY)
Wearing Apparel
Ladies' Apparel
Men's Apparel
Jewelry (may include watches)
Appliances Kitchen Appliances
Industrial Appliances
Heat Pump
New Autoparts
Used Autoparts
Caps Baseball Caps
Blasting Caps
Bottle Caps
Hub Caps
Chemicals, hazardous
Chemicals, non-hazardous
Actual Chemical Name (not brand name)
Or U.N. HAZMAT Code Identifier #
Electronic Goods
Consumer Electronics, Telephones
Electronic Toys (can include Gameboys, Game Cubes,
Dancing Elmo Doll etc.)
Personal/Household Electronics (i.e. PDA's, VCR's, TV's)
Equipment Industrial Equipment, Oil Well Equipment
Automotive Equipment, Poultry Equipment etc.
Flooring Wood Flooring, Plastic Flooring, Carpet, Ceramic Tile,
Marble Flooring
Foodstuffs Oranges
Packaged Rice, Packaged Grain, Bulk Grain
Iron Iron Pipes, Steel Pipes
Steel Iron Building Material, Steel Building Material
Leather Articles Saddles
Leather Handbags
Leather Jackets, Shoes
Machinery Metal Working Machinery
Cigarette Making Machinery
Machines Sewing Machines
Printing Machines
Pipes Plastic Pipes
PVC Pipes
Steel Pipes
Copper Pipes
Plastic Goods Plastic Kitchenware, Plastic Houseware,
Industrial Plastics
Toys, New/Used Auto Parts
Polyurethane Polyurethane Threads
Polyurethane Medical Gloves
  Personal Effects
Household Goods
Rubber Articles Rubber Hoses
Rubber Conveyor Belts
Rods Welding Rods
Aluminum Rods
Reactor Rods
Scrap Plastic Scrap
Aluminum Scrap
Iron Scrap
STC (Said to Contain)
General Cargo
FAK (Freight of All Kinds)
"No Description"
Tiles Ceramic Tiles
Marble Tiles
Tools Hand Tools
Power Tools
Industrial Tools
Wires Electric Wires
Auto Harness
Coiled Wire (Industrial)


How should Quantity be reported?

  • Under the AAMS regulation, it is mandatory that the SLAC (Shipper’s Load and Count) is reported. Traditional piece counts are no longer sufficient. SLAC refers to the smallest external packaging unit – a crate or box that is not accessible from the outside without breaking a seal or something similar so that one cannot extract or add anything or break the unit down.
  • Quantity information (both piece count and SLAC) also needs to be mentioned on commercial documents for legal/customs reasons.
  • A shrink-wrapped pallet or a pallet with security bands does not count as a SLAC. In such cases the exporting party will have to inform the forwarder about the number of cartons, boxes, etc. on the pallet.


What is SLAC?

  • SLAC or Shipper’s Load and Count refers to the smallest external packaging unit – a crate or box that is not accessible from the outside without breaking a seal or something similar so that one cannot extract or add anything or break the unit down.   Under the AAMS regulation, it is mandatory that the SLAC is reported.

Example 1:

  • A shipment consists of 2 pallets containing 50 boxes each, each box containing 6 glasses.
    • Piece count: 2 (pallets)
    • SLAC count: 100 (2 x 50 boxes)

Example 2:

  • The picture below on the left side shows 1 SLAC – irrespective of the number of boxes within the crate.   The picture on the right shows a SLAC of 20 – in other words, the shrink-wrapping does not qualify as outer packaging.



Example 3:

1 pallet weighing 220 kgs shrink-wrapped with 57 bags of Tastic rice. 1 box weighing 2 kgs containing Tupperware Containers. 1 crate weighing 10 kg containing 5 kettles

Quantity + Precise Nature of Goods Piece count: 3
SLAC count: 57 – Packaged rice
SLAC count: 1 – Plastic kitchenware
SLAC count: 1 – Kitchen appliances

Example 4:

1 box weighing 9 kgs containing 4 receivers

1 pallet weighing 87 kgs shrink-wrapped with 20 boxes containing laser printers

Quantity + Precise Nature of Goods Piece count: 2
SLAC count: 1 – Consumer Electronics (receivers)
SLAC count: 20 – Computer appliances (printers)

Example 5:

1 airline pallet containing 75 boxes of Ladies T-Shirts and 75 boxes of Mens T-Shirts.

Quantity + Precise Nature of Goods Piece count: 1
SLAC count: 150 – Clothing

Example 6:

1 crate with wires and electric drills

1 skid with 4 loose pipes

10 boxes with valves

Quantity + Precise Nature of Goods Piece count: 15
SLAC count: 4 - Rubber Pipes
SLAC count: 10 - Industrial Equipment
SLAC count: 1 - Electric Wires” and “Power Tools


If conditions are not met, what are the possible consequences?

  • Non-compliance with the new CBP AAMS regulation can result in delays, penalties and/or seizure of goods.   Any fines, charges or extra costs incurred by UTi as a result of filing inaccurate, incorrect, or late information provided by shippers will be for the account of the cargo.  
  • UTi will maintain its right to claim reimbursement for direct costs (fines, airlines costs, impoundment costs etc.) as well as indirect costs (claims, confiscation of cargo etc.) from any exporting party who fails to comply with the Unites States AAMS regulations and therefore causes consequential response from CBP.  


What is the responsibility of the Freight Forwarders?

  • The responsibility for performing the AAMS filing falls with the airlines and freight forwarders.   Each carrier/forwarder must submit an electronic manifest for every individual shipment passing through a United States airport.


What is the responsibility of the Airlines?

  • The air carrier has the responsibility for making the AAMS transmission on a HAWB level – based on the information provided by UTi. The information provided by UTi is determined by the information provided to UTi by the exporter.


What are the costs associated with AAMS?

  • With the implementation of the AAMS there will be a nominal fee of USD 10.00, EURO 8.00 or the equivalent in local origin currency assessed per HAWB to offset the additional cost charged by the airlines in addition to the responsibility and labor necessary to perform these new requirements by UTi.


How can I find more information regarding AAMS?