Air Cargo Manifest (ACM)


A cargo flight manifest serves various essential purposes in the air freight industry, including:

  1. Identifying cargo: The manifest provides a comprehensive list of all items or goods loaded onto the aircraft. It facilitates clear identification, detailing descriptions, quantities, and types of goods.
  2. Regulatory compliance: This document is crucial for regulatory adherence, offering evidence that transported items comply with relevant laws, including safety and security regulations. It can also serve as a declaration of cargo content, value, and destination, aiding in customs compliance.
  3. Planning and management: Airline staff rely on the manifest for effective loading and unloading of goods. It guides them to the specific location of items and assists in planning for weight distribution and balance, ensuring safe aircraft operation.
  4. Tracking and accountability: Cargo manifests contribute to supply chain tracking. If discrepancies or issues arise, they help pinpoint when and where problems occurred, facilitating accountability.
  5. Insurance and liability: In the unfortunate event of accidents, damage, or loss, the manifest serves as a record of the aircraft’s cargo. This record is vital for insurance claims and determining liability.


The uplifting station is responsible for transmitting the flight manifest to the respective destinations as well as compliance with the regulation for each destination.

Legal framework

Flight manifests have a broad legal context that can vary by jurisdiction, cargo type, and regulatory bodies involved. Key legal considerations include:

  1. Customs and border protection: Many countries require manifests for customs processing of imports and exports. This aids in enforcing trade laws, tariff collection, and preventing prohibited item transport. The Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) provides definition of “cargo declaration” and outlines that the carrier shall be held responsible to the Customs for ensuring that all goods are included in the cargo declaration or are brought to the attention of the Customs in another authorised manner.
  2. Transportation safety regulations: Air transport safety is governed by international and national organisations such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe. Manifests help ensure compliance with rules on weight distribution, hazardous materials, and more.
  3. International trade law: When transporting goods between countries, manifests demonstrate adherence to international trade agreements, including tariff regulations, trade restrictions, and treaties.
  4. Liability and insurance: In cases of loss, damage, or disputes, manifests serve as cargo records. They are valuable in legal proceedings related to insurance claims, liability determinations, and contract disputes.
  5. Security and anti-terrorism laws: Many jurisdictions mandate cargo information submission to security agencies before flights to combat smuggling, illegal immigration, and terrorism. Manifests play a key role in meeting these requirements.

Inaccurate, incomplete, or fraudulent manifests may result in severe legal penalties, such as fines, goods seizure, license revocation, or criminal charges. Consequently, proper manifest preparation and handling are critical legal concerns for airlines and freight carriers.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) does not have statistics on the usages of electronic versions of the Flight Manifest.

Key standards

e-Freight, including electronic Flight Manifest:
The new generation Flight Manifest are part of the IATA ONE Record initiative:

Major differences between standards

Flight manifest requirements are generally standardised globally thanks to international regulations and industry standards set by bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and IATA. These guidelines promote consistency in air transport across countries.

However, variations can arise in cargo specifics and customs rules. The WCO Data Model (WCO DM) outlines that Declaration/Consignment level is the primary basis for Cargo report. Different nations or states may demand additional or different information in the manifest. For example, some countries might necessitate more comprehensive cargo descriptions, specific declarations for certain goods, or customs-related data for duty calculations. This variation is particularly notable for regulated or restricted items, such as hazardous materials, controlled substances, or specific technologies.


Flight manifests are transmitted in various formats, depending on stakeholders’ needs and capabilities:

  1. IATA Cargo Interchange Message Procedures (IMP) or Cargo Extensible Markup Language (XML) Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems
  2. Application Programming Interface (API) where airlines and partners have such capabilities
  3. E-mail or web portals when better means are not available
  4. Paper documents in regions with less advanced infrastructure

Since 2018, IATA has been introducing the ONE Record data sharing standard. It aims to replace messaging standards and platforms with a data-centric standard that retains data at its source. This standard creates transport records by linking necessary data for documents like flight manifests to distributed data sources, making air transport data platform-independent.