Air Freight Costs Exposed: The 9 Most Common Charges Explained

What is air freight charge?

Air freight charge, also known as air cargo rate, is the amount charged for transporting goods by air from one destination to another.

What is CGC?

CGC stands for Customs General Order. This is a charge that is applied to air freight shipments that have been held by customs for inspection.

Customs General Order is a process in which customs hold shipments that they suspect of not complying with customs regulations. This can include goods that have been mislabeled, undervalued or even forbidden goods.

CGC charges can vary depending on the type of shipment and the duration that it is held by customs. It’s important to understand that if a shipment is held by customs for inspection, the cost of storage and handling will also be incurred by the shipper.

To avoid CGC charges, it is important to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order and that the goods being shipped comply with customs regulations.

What is PCA?

PCA stands for Pre-Carriage Arrangement. It refers to the transportation of cargo from the shipper’s location to the airport of origin.

In air freight, cargo needs to be delivered to the airport for processing, checking, and loading onto the aircraft. The pre-carriage arrangement includes all transportation services involved in moving the goods from the shipper’s facility to the airport. This can include trucking, rail, or other modes of transportation.

PCA is a crucial part of air freight logistics, as it ensures that the cargo is delivered to the airport on time and in good condition.

It is important to note that the PCA charge is not included in the air freight rate and needs to be paid separately by the shipper or the freight forwarder.

What is AMS?

AMS, or Automated Manifest System, is a system that allows the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to track and monitor the movement of air freight entering and leaving the United States.

The system requires airlines, freight forwarders, and other carriers to electronically submit advanced cargo information, such as the shipper and consignee’s name and address, the type and quantity of goods, and flight details.

AMS was introduced as part of the Trade Act of 2002, which mandated that the CBP implement an electronic system to improve cargo security and streamline the import and export process. With AMS, the CBP can conduct risk assessments of air cargo shipments before arrival, which allows them to identify high-risk shipments and conduct further inspections.

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Who should pay for AMS fee?

The AMS (Automated Manifest System) fee is a mandatory charge imposed by the US Customs and Border Protection agency for air cargo shipments arriving or departing from the United States.

It is meant to cover the costs of maintaining and operating the electronic system that tracks cargo and helps prevent security and safety risks.

Typically, the carrier or freight forwarder will pass on the charge to the shipper as part of their service fee. However, some carriers may include the AMS fee in their freight rate or offer it as a separate line item on the invoice.

Difference between AMS and ISF

AMS is required for all air shipments arriving in the United States and provides US Customs with important information about the cargo on board. This includes details about the shipper, consignee, goods being shipped, and other necessary information.

On the other hand, ISF is required for ocean freight shipments only and must be filed by the importer no later than 24 hours before the vessel arrived in the United States.

Another difference is in who is responsible for paying the fee. With AMS, the carrier or agent is responsible for paying the fee, whereas, with ISF, it is the responsibility of the importer.

Additionally, while AMS is focused on cargo details, ISF is focused on security information, such as details about the cargo owner, manufacturer, and point of origin.


AMS is a system used by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to track inbound and outbound cargo information.

All air shipments entering or leaving the US are required to be submitted to the CBP through the AMS system, which includes details such as the shipper, consignee, and goods being transported.

AMS fees are charged by the airline or forwarder responsible for submitting the information.

On the other hand, ACE is an electronic portal through which importers can submit information to the CBP for clearance.

It replaces the previous system, Automated Commercial System (ACS), and streamlines the customs clearance process. ACE fees are typically charged by customs brokers who use the system to submit import documentation.

It is important to note that while AMS is mandatory for all air shipments, ACE is only necessary for imports entering the US.

What is AWB?

AWB stands for Air Waybill, which is a document used in air freight that acts as a contract between the shipper and the airline.

It contains important information about the shipment, such as the origin and destination of the goods, the weight and dimensions, the shipper and consignee details, and the cost of transportation.

The Air Waybill serves as proof of the shipment and is used by the airline to track the movement of the goods. It is also used by customs authorities to check the contents of the shipment and to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order.

There are two types of Air Waybills: The Master Air Waybill (MAWB) and the House Air Waybill (HAWB). The MAWB is issued by the airline and covers the entire shipment, while the HAWB is issued by the freight forwarder or the consolidator and covers only a portion of the shipment.

What is MYC?

MYC stands for “Multiple Carrier Responsibility,” which is a fee that covers the cost of using multiple carriers to transport a shipment.

This fee is applicable when a shipment requires the use of more than one carrier to complete the journey, usually when the destination is not served by the initial carrier.

For example, if a shipment is being transported from Los Angeles to Mumbai and there is no direct flight, the shipment may need to be transferred from one carrier to another at a connecting airport. In such cases, the MYC fee is charged to the shipper or consignee, depending on the Incoterm used.

What is MCC?

MCC stands for Miscellaneous Charge Code, which refers to a fee charged by airlines for services rendered beyond the usual transportation services.

These services may include storage, special handling, customs clearance, and other additional costs incurred during the air freight process.

What is ASI?

ASI, or Airline Security Information, is a charge that may be imposed by airlines for additional security measures on air freight shipments.

This charge is assessed on each piece of freight that is shipped, and the cost can vary depending on the weight, destination, and type of cargo being transported.

Airline security is an important factor in air freight transportation, as airlines are responsible for ensuring that cargo shipments are safe and secure during transit. To meet these requirements, airlines may charge a fee to cover the cost of additional security measures, such as increased screening, inspection, or handling of certain types of cargo.

What is SSC?

SSC stands for Security Surcharge, which is a fee imposed on air freight shipments for security measures put in place by government authorities to prevent illegal activities like smuggling and terrorism.

This fee is applied on top of the standard air freight charges and is typically determined based on the weight or volume of the shipment.


Firstly, the purpose of the charges differs

SSC is a fee charged by airlines to cover the costs of implementing and maintaining security measures at airports and in cargo facilities. ASI, on the other hand, is a charge to cover the costs of complying with government-mandated security measures.

Secondly, the charges are calculated differently

SSC is typically charged as a flat rate or a percentage of the total freight cost, while ASI is usually based on the weight of the cargo.

Lastly, the responsibility for paying the fees may vary

SSC is usually the responsibility of the shipper or consignee, while ASI is often paid by the airline and included in the freight charges.