Rules and regulations

Your source for rules and regulations for shipment acceptance, rates, packaging and labeling, payment methods, security, international shipping, customs clearance, overtender, and hazardous materials.

Security policy

Prior to acceptance, all shipments must meet specific Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Requirements:

  • All shipments are subject to inspection.
  • All customers tendering shipments must have one form of government-issued photo ID or two other forms of ID, one of which must be issued by a government authority.
  • A complete and accurate commodity description, either on the air waybill or on an attached manifest, must be provided at time of tender.

For most shipments, anyone wishing to tender cargo to us in the United States must meet one of the two requirements listed below. These requirements are regulated by the TSA. For more information on these regulations, please visit the TSA website.

1. Known Shipper

A Known Shipper is an individual or entity wishing to tender their own goods for air transportation on a passenger air carrier that has gone through an approval process mandated by the TSA.

If you are not already a Known Shipper, please fill out the Known Shipper Request form. This form is required to start the process of becoming a Known Shipper with United. We will verify your information through the TSA database. If a site inspection is required there will be a non-refundable minimum fee of $75.00. This fee is mileage based and may be higher. For customers who require a site visit, there will be an initial site visit and recurrent site visits are required in order to remain on the Known Shipper list.

2. Indirect Air Carrier (IAC)

An Indirect Air Carrier (IAC) means any person or entity within the United States not in possession of an FAA air carrier operating certificate, that ships cargo belonging to any other person or entity. An IAC undertakes to engage indirectly in air transportation of property and uses for all or any part of such transportation the services of a passenger air carrier. Each Indirect Air Carrier must adopt and carry out a security program that meets TSA requirements.

For more information concerning the regulations and procedures for an IAC or to register with the TSA, visit the TSA website.

International rules and rates

United has designated The Air Cargo Tariff (TACT) as our official source of information for reference of air waybills, application of rates, rules, and classifications for all international shipments. Exceptions and additions to the rules and provisions published in sections 1 to 7 of TACT Rules are published in TACT rules section 8.3: United Airlines.

All rates, charges, and regulations published in TACT and United Cargo’s local tariffs are subject to change without notice except to the extent otherwise provided by applicable law, government regulations, or order; provided however that no such change shall apply to a contract of carriage after the date of issuance of the air waybill by carrier or after the date the rate or charge for the carriage has been entered in the shipment record.

Also available is United Cargo’s International Conditions of Contract.

If you have any questions about United’s rules and regulations for shipping international cargo, please contact us for further assistance.

Intra-U.S. rules and rates

The United Cargo local rules tariff (PDF) is our official source of information and reference for rules, regulations, fees, and charges applicable to shipments transported between points in the U.S. Transportation is subject to the rules, regulations, fees, and charges in effect on the date of acceptance of the shipment by the originating carrier as shown in The United Cargo Local Rules Tariff published at

The United Cargo local rates tariff (PDF) is our official source of information and reference on rates applicable to shipments transported between points in the U.S. All rates and charges shown in the United Cargo Local Rates Tariff are for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice.

Also available is United Cargo’s Domestic Conditions of Contract (PDF).

If you have any questions about United Cargo’s rules, regulations, fees or charges; please contact us for further assistance.

Packaging and labeling

General packaging and labeling guidelines for shipping with us are shown below. If you have any special cargo, such as perishables or seafood, see the special handling requirements under our products & shipping section. If you have any other questions or concerns regarding packaging or TSA security requirements, please contact us or visit the TSA website.

  1. Shipments must be prepared or packaged to ensure safe transportation with ordinary care in handling.
  2. Any article susceptible to damage by ordinary handling, or as a result of any condition which may be encountered in air transportation, must be adequately protected by proper packaging and bear appropriate labels or markings.
  3. All shipments with articles and commodities that are susceptible to leakage must be packed by the shipper in solid, leak-proof boxes or inner containers such as heavy polyvinyl bags.
  4. Each piece must be legibly and durably marked with the name and address of the shipper and consignee. Old markings and labels must be removed or eradicated.
  5. Pieces with weight in excess of the floor-bearing capacity of available aircraft must be provided with a suitable skid or base to distribute the weight of the pieces so as not to exceed such aircraft capacity. The weight of the shipment must include the weight of the skid or base.
  6. Cut flowers and nursery stock shipments must show the total cubic measurement on the exterior of all boxes.
  7. Liquids or fragile or perishable articles must not be enclosed in the same package as wearing apparel.
  8. Packing, marking, and labeling of hazardous materials / dangerous goods must comply with the Dangerous Goods Regulations issued by International Air Transport Association (IATA).
  9. Firearms must be packed in a manufacturer’s crushproof container made specifically for the firearm(s), or in a hard case. Firearms must be unloaded for transportation.
  10. Government regulations require treating and marking for wood packaging materials used in international shipments. Requirements applicable to shipments imported into the U.S. are available at: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Site.
  11. United restricts the shipment of lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard or rhinoceros trophies as freight. United ships other trophies, following all U.S. domestic and international regulations, which prohibit the possession of trophies or other items associated with protected species.

Country-specific requirements applicable to shipments exported from the U.S. are available at: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Site.

Shipment acceptance definition

"Time of Acceptance" is defined as the point in time when shipments have completed all steps in the tender process as detailed below. The time of acceptance is used to determine whether shipments have met the "cut off time". Shipments that complete the tender process and are accepted after the cut off time will be booked on the next available flight.

The tender process must be completed before the time of acceptance, including but not limited to the following:

  • Inspection of shipment:
    • Packaging is in good condition.
    • Each piece is accurately marked and labeled.
  • Inspection of documentation:
    • Air waybill and other necessary documentation is complete.
    • Air waybill is completed correctly.
    • Air waybill data corresponds to the commodity, pieces, weight, and dimensions of the shipment tendered.
  • Verification of booking:
    • Booking data provided by customer, including product type, corresponds to the commodity, pieces, weight, and dimensions of the shipment tendered.
  • Verification of security:
    • Determination of shipper’s security status.
    • Acceptance per TSA-mandated process for status type.
    • Inspection and screening of shipment contents as required.
  • Sign-off and execution of air waybill.

As indicated above, the tender process is complex and often time-consuming. Shipments should arrive at our facilities with sufficient lead-time to complete all steps of the tender process to be accepted before the cut off time of the reserved flight.

Overtender policy

We are dedicated to providing the highest quality and most reliable service, and we promise to move shipments as committed. In return, we ask that our customers provide accurate cubic dimensions and weight when booking. Documents must be clearly labeled with a 24-hour contact name and telephone number in case discrepancies arise. We cannot ensure the “moved as committed” promise unless shipments tendered reflect the booked weight, dimensions and piece count.

The following policies apply when the total actual or dimensional weight of the shipment as tendered by the customer exceeds the amount in the reservation:

  • If space for the overtender exists on the reserved flight, we will create a reservation for the overtendered portion of the shipment on the same flight(s) as the original reservation.
  • If sufficient space is not available on the reserved flight for some or all of the overtender, we will check other flights/trucks within the 14-day booking window for available space. If space exists within the booking window, we will create a reservation for the overtendered portion of the shipment on the next available flight/truck using the same air waybill number.
  • If the excess weight cannot be separated from the portion of the shipment for which space was confirmed, and if there is no space available during the system booking window, the shipment will not be accepted.
  • Shipments tendered to United in excess (volume and/or weight) of the advance reservation for which the overtendered portion must be accommodated on a separate flight will not qualify for the EXP service guarantee.

If you have any questions about United’s rules and regulations, please contact us for further assistance.

Customs clearance

Customs clearance services are not provided by United. Customs clearance and formalities must be arranged by the shipper or consignee at the shipment’s destination.

USDA, Public Health, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspections are done at the first port of entry into the U.S.