AC Cool Chain for the shipment of temperature-sensitive products - Air Canada Cargo

AC Cool Chain

When keeping it cool is your top priority

When you need to ship temperature-sensitive commodities – from pharmaceuticals to perishables and everything in between – AC Cool Chain offers a selection of three solutions designed for the specific needs of your commodity: AC Absolute°, AC Pharmacair and AC Fresh. These AC Cool Chain solutions provide a temperature-controlled environments to ensure product freshness and stability.

Considering AC Cool Chain? Please read this disclaimer first.

The AC Cool Chain Solution

With all three of our AC Cool Chain solutions, you receive:

  • Choice of active or passive packaging;
  • Refrigerated and ambient holding areas (ambient temperatures vary by station);
  • Expedited time on the tarmac at origin, transit and destination stations;
  • Compliance with IATA regulations;
  • Efficient transport and handling processes;
  • Specific ;
  • Shipment tracking
  • A number of active and passive packaging solutions, as well as data logger/GPS devices, have been approved for carriage on Air Canada flights.

For added protection, consider: Dupont™ Tyvek® Air Cargo Covers

AC Absolute°

For temperature-sensitive commodities that require an active temperature controlled unit, this solution offers a variety of containers with dry ice and electrical-based temperature control technologies. AC Absolute° is ideally suited for high-value healthcare, high-value food products and other commodities that are extremely sensitive to time and temperature.

AC Pharmacair

This solution is for temperature-sensitive healthcare commodities that do not require an active temperature controlled unit (e.g. vaccines, pills that are pre-packaged to maintain the desired product temperatures).

AC Fresh

AC Fresh is for temperature-sensitive, non-healthcare products (like fresh fruits, vegetables, , lobster, fish and other seafood) that are pre-packaged to maintain the desired product temperatures and do not require an active temperature-controlled unit. Note: For all seafood shipments, special commodity rates (SCR) will apply.

  • Offers choice of service level (Standard or Priority1);
  • Is available at all Air Canada Cargo locations;
  • Follows general for labeling and identification.
IATA Regulations
Links and resources for shipping pharma and healthcare products
Rates And Charges
Rates And Charges
Quick access to our rates, charges and fees
Illegal Wildlife Trade
Illegal Wildlife Trade
Air Canada has adopted a "zero tolerance" approach for illegal wildlife trade.

Shipping Requirements

To meet performance expectations and current regulatory and security control requirements, Air Canada Cargo adheres to a rigorous goods acceptance process. Customers should refer to the current edition of the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations for specific packaging requirements in order to meet their shipment needs.

Shipper’s Responsibility

You have a responsibility to ensure that your shipment complies with all applicable rules and regulations and is acceptable for transport (packaged appropriately, properly identified and labeled, and accompanied by all required documentation).

For temperature-sensitive shipments, packaging is particularly important to protect the commodity from temperature variation throughout the journey, and special identification is required. In addition, a 24-hour emergency contact must be provided at the time of booking.

Shipping Requirements

The following outlines key requirements according to IATA regulations and recommended practices, including, IATA Recommended Practices 1601, 1670 and IATA Resolution 600 a/b and 606, as well as considerations for shipping time and temperature-sensitive cargo:


Shipments are only acceptable for transportation when the shipper, consignee or owner has complied with the rules and regulations of the tariffs and all laws, ordinances, and other governmental rules and regulations governing the transportation of the shipment.

Air waybill (AWB)

The AWB must be completed in its entirety and all sections must be completed accurately. The handling information on the AWB must coincide with the type of service and solution chosen.

  • The AC Absolute° solution must be used when the shipper requires precise temperature control at all times for an extended period of time.

  • The AC Pharmacair solution is to be used when the commodity being shipped does not require precise temperature control at all times, or passive packaging is used (See Marking and labelling your shipment below).

  • AC Fresh solution is to be used for all other commodities that do not fall into the AC Absolute° or AC Pharmacair solutions. The following remarks must not appear on the AWB when the AC Fresh solution is selected, as the solution is not designed to maintain steady ambient (external) temperatures at all times:

    • "keep frozen at all times"
    • "keep cool at all times",
    • "keep refrigerated at all times",
    • "keep within +2°c to +8°c at all times"
    • "keep within +15°c to +30°c"

The air waybill must also include the weight, number of pieces, dimensions, nature of goods, all information required by Customs and known/unknown security status. The air waybill must also contain the conditions of contract. An e-Air Waybill is also acceptable (where authorized).

Completing an Air Waybill

Note: Any adjustments made to an Air Waybill that could impact the expected billing amount, such as re-weighing, calculating or re-calculating the dimensional weight of your shipment, will be communicated to the shipper with a Notice of Correction. This Notice of Correction will be sent electronically to your attention.

Attention Freight Forwarders:

When applicable, complete House AWB information must be available for manual input or electronically transmitted to either Air Canada or directly to Customs.


All documents necessary for determining the nature of the goods, along with export, import or transit documents required by Customs or any governmental body, must be completed and/or checked and must accompany the air waybill.

Electronic submission of this information is also acceptable (where authorized) following IATA procedures and standards.

Packing your shipment

Shipments must be packed in a way that allows for security screening and to ensure that it can be carried safely with ordinary care in handling. In addition, the volume and weight of your shipment when tendered must match those in your booking.

For all Cool Chain solutions, we recommend that customers refer to the current edition of the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations for specific packaging requirements to meet their shipment needs and airline requirements.

When shipping game meat, specific packaging requirements apply. See for details.

Marking and labelling your shipment

All packages in the consignment must be marked with the consignee's name, street and city address, including ZIP/postal code (as on the Air Waybill) OR, have one or more packages marked with this information with an appropriate reference on all other packages in the consignment.

A completed must be attached to each package. Labels must be fully visible and all old labels and markings must be obliterated.

For AC Pharmacair or AC Absolute° healthcare shipments:

  • As the label supports the booking, the transportation temperature range specified on the label must match the transportation temperature range stated on the Air Waybill.
  • In the event that the shipper fails to complete the lower half of the label or in case of discrepancy, the transportation temperature indicated on the Air Waybill prevails.
Security adherence

All shipments undergo security screening and must be prepared for carriage according to the security control instructions provided by the National Authority and any additional instructions provided by Air Canada Cargo.

Note: Any cargo that cannot be screened to a satisfactory standard may be broken down into smaller pieces in order to obtain a clear image. Breakdown and build-up fees may apply. See Security screening fees in Rates, Charges and Fees.

Air Canada Cargo Acceptance Requirements

Shipments are acceptable for transportation when:

  • The shipper, consignee or owner complies with the rules and regulations of the tariffs and all laws, ordinances, and other governmental rules and regulations governing transport of the shipment.

  • It is agreed that the goods shipped are accepted in apparent good order, are properly packaged, are in a condition for carriage that is in conformity with IATA regulations, and are subject to the conditions of the contract (the Air Waybill).

  • Shipments are delivered on time and have a confirmed booking from origin to destination.

  • Volume and weight match the booking at time of acceptance.

Are you ready to ship? Visit the

Time and Temperature-Sensitive Labels

Required for temperature-sensitive healthcare products booked and tendered using the AC Pharmacair and AC Absolute° solutions.

The Time and Temperature Sensitive adhesive label is a shipment label that must be affixed to all healthcare shipments booked as time and temperature sensitive cargo. This label is mandatory for all IATA member airlines effective July 1, 2012.

The label will help ensure:

  • Better identification for all temperature-sensitive healthcare cargo shipments
  • Faster supply chain transit handling
  • Reduced delays due to inaccurate or inconsistent handling information
  • Decreased risk of mishandling that may affect the quality of the healthcare product

Shipper’s Responsibility

It is the shipper’s responsibility (or designated shipper's agent by service agreement) to ensure that the label is properly applied and filled out on all time and temperature- sensitive healthcare cargo shipments booked as AC Pharmacair and AC Absolute°. See

Purchasing the Label
The label can be purchased from IATA. The label size is 10cm x 10cm (4 x 4 in).

Filling-out the Label
Full instructions for filling out the Time and Temperature Sensitive label can be found on IATA's website.

  • The lower half of the label must never be left blank.
  • The temperature range must be indicated in Celsius.
  • The temperature indicated on the lower half of the label must match the approved transportation temperature range, (e.g. +15ºC to +25ºC) and must match the transportation temperature range stated on the Air Waybill.
  • The temperature range indicated on the label reflects the temperature external to the package allowed during transportation and distribution and not the actual product (internal) temperature.
  • The label must not contain any other information then the temperature range.
  • The label should be placed on at least one side of the outermost means of conveyance (for example, the Active ULD, overpack, pallet or box).
  • The label may be incorporated into the IATA ULD label or tag already in use by carriers or container manufacturers.

Learn more

Examples of a completed label IATA label information IATA FAQs

Game Meat

All game meat shipments must be booked from origin to destination on Air Canada or Jazz.


  • Due to U.S. Customs regulations, the following Air Canada Cargo stations cannot accept game meat shipments:
    • Las Vegas (LAS)
    • Phoenix (PHX)
    • Orlando (MCO)
    • Washington (IAD)
  • Due to potential transfer of disease, game meat and game meat products are prohibited from entering Japan.

Contact your local Air Canada Cargo office for more information.


All shipments of game meat, hides and antlers must be prepaid.

Required documentation for shipments to the U.S.

All shippers of game meat are responsible for ensuring that all required documentation including U.S. Customs forms/certifications and Fish and Wildlife Declarations are attached to the outside of the shipment.

Hunters will need a Veterinary Services Special Permit for the Importation of Hunter-Harvested Wild Ruminant Meat, along with one of the following:

  • a valid Canadian export certificate for game meat,
  • a copy of a valid hunting license, or
  • a valid hunting tag.

The permit can be downloaded from the United States Department of Agriculture website, or obtained by calling the APHIS National Center for Import and Export at: (301) 734-3277.

Shipments to the U.S.

Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (BTA)

The intent of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (the Bioterrorism Act) is to protect the health and safety of the people of the United States from an intended or actual terrorist attack on the nation's food supply.

The Bioterrorism Act requires that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receive prior notice from shippers before food is imported or offered for import into the United States. All shipments without a prior notice number will be refused, and shippers may be subject to fines for non-compliance.
Learn more about the Bioterrorism Act and prior notice of imported foods.

Designated ports of entry

As per U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Regulations Subpart B, Section 14.16: Wildlife lawfully taken by U.S. residents in Canada, the U.S.A. or Mexico and imported or exported for non-commercial purposes may be imported or exported ONLY at certain U.S. Customs ports of entry.

For more information on designated ports of entry, please consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Please be advised that Air Canada Cargo is required to comply with security regulations as mandated by the TSA and Transport Canada. Therefore no cargo shipment may depart to the U.S. unless they originate from a Known Consignor. Please take this into consideration when choosing a destination that may require a connection in the U.S.

  • The product should be contained in one 9 ml plastic bag (or two 4 ml plastic bags),
  • Gel packs should be included with the packaging, except for vacuum packaged meat.
  • Only gel packs will be accepted as a refrigerant.
  • Fresh meat, hides, capes, meat, etc., packed in salt will not be accepted.
  • Our stations in the U.S. do not have freezer facilities but have coolers.
  • It is your responsibility to provide adequate coolants.
  • The outer carton should be wax treated,
  • The inner carton must be one of the following:
    • a leak proof Styrofoam box, or
    • a leak proof, wax soaked, cardboard liner.
  • The weight of an individual package must not exceed 32 kg.
  • Boxes must be able to withstand two or more similar containers being stacked on top without crushing.
  • "This Side Up" and "Perishable" must be marked prominently on at least two vertical walls of each container.
  • Each box must have the consignee's complete address and contact information, including telephone number.
  • Shipment must be clean and clear of blood, packaged so as to prevent spillage or seepage, and able to maintain package integrity for duration of travel.
  • Antler tips must be covered so as not to puncture other shipments or baggage. Antlers must be completely clean of all meat.

There is an additional charge for the handling and storage of game meat using refrigeration until time for transport.

Booking a Shipment, Cool Chain

The initial booking is a critical step for ensuring a successful Cool Chain shipment with Air Canada Cargo. The details provided during your booking will trigger the specific handling and operational processes necessary for your shipment.

Certain steps are essential, such as ensuring that the temperature range on your label matches the range on your air waybill, and providing a 24-hour emergency contact when you book.

Make sure you have what you need to book a Cool Chain shipment. See our .

How to Book a Shipment

To book your shipment, you will need to:

Before you call, please see our

When making a booking, please confirm with the booking agent whether the origin, transit and destination stations are equipped with cool room facilities. Note that space in cool room facilities, where these exist, is limited, and depending on availability, is not guaranteed.

Due to some aircraft types, weight, weather and regulatory restrictions, we may not be able to transport your shipment to all the destinations we serve. Your Air Canada Cargo station can help.

Attention Freight Forwarders:

You will need to set up an account with Air Canada Cargo. See Accounts.

Cargo Portal Services

Visit Cargo Portal Services (CPS) to access your existing CPS profile or to register for one. Cargo Portal Services offers a self-service booking tool, rate estimation, House Air Waybill entry and tracking services.

View our CPS Quick Reference Guide

Book online now
Service Enhancements
Service Enhancements
Products and features to enhance your shipping experience

Tender & Retrieval

Tendering (or dropping-off) your shipment is the process of consigning the shipment to Air Canada Cargo for transport. Retrieving your shipment is the process of picking up the shipment at the destination location.

Tender/Retrieval Locations

The Air Canada Cargo location for tendering shipments depends on the type and destination of the shipment. Your booking agent will provide you with the applicable Air Canada Cargo locations for tendering and receiving your shipment.

Tender/Retrieval Times

You will need to tender your shipment in advance of your flight to allow time for security checks, inspections and ground handling time. There is also a set period of time for retrieval of your shipment at the destination.

  • Tender Time(s): Tender cut-off time is the latest time a shipment can be ready for shipment and consigned to Air Canada Cargo in order for it to travel on a specific flight. The tender time is calculated by counting back from flight departure time.

  • Retrieval Time(s): Retrieval time represents the amount of time it takes to process a shipment and have it available for pick-up after the flight arrives at the final destination. Please note that storage charges will apply if a shipment is not collected within a reasonable delay.

Tender and retrieval times vary by solution and service level. To find your tender and retrieval times, select the origin and destination of your shipment. Then choose the applicable Air Canada Cargo solution, service level and indicate if you are using a shipping container (Unit Load Device).

Loose Shipment

A loose shipment is a shipment that is tendered as individual boxes or pieces.


A ULD (unit load device) or container shipment is made up of multiple pieces that are consolidated into a large container to form a single unit.
Tender Times (from Canada, United States) Retrieval Times (to Canada, United States)

Before tendering your shipment, see our

Tender/Retrieval Notes:
  • Times may differ by station. Tender and retrieval times for South and Central America and the Caribbean are not available. Always contact your local station to confirm.
  • Shipments that require security screening, that are of unusual shape/size, or require special handling may require additional time. Always contact your local station to confirm.
  • AC Animals: In Canada and the US, the maximum tender time is 4 hours.
  • Mail Shipments: Contact your local Air Canada Cargo sales office.

Tracking Your Shipment
Tracking Your Shipment
Tools to help you track your shipment every step of the way

Shipper’s Checklist

Our goal it to provide you with a smooth, seamless shipping experience for your temperature-sensitive cargo. This Shipper’s Checklist will help you understand the booking and shipping process and the things you can do to make your shipping experience even better.

Before You Book

For fast and easy booking, follow this checklist to make sure you’ve got what you need before you call to book your shipment.

Make sure you can ship your cargo

Check IATA regulations (general and perishable goods), customs requirements and country-specific shipping requirements and restrictions to ensure that you can ship your cargo.

Determine your route and destination

Note that AC Absolute° and AC Pharmacair are not available at all Air Canada Cargo locations. In addition, due to some aircraft types, weight, weather and regulatory restrictions, we may not be able to transport your shipment to all the destinations we serve. Your Air Canada Cargo agent will help you determine the best route based on your shipping needs. Routes & Network

Know the details about your shipment

This includes the nature of the shipment, temperature-control requirements, special handling needs, weight, number of pieces, dimensions, and all information required by Customs.

Consider the Cool Chain solutions, service levels and shipping options

AC Cool Chain offers three solutions for temperature-sensitive cargo, with two levels of service available for AC Pharmacair and AC Fresh. There are also several options to consider: leasing a temperature-controlled shipping container, adding protection with a DuPont™ Tyvek® covers and using GPS tracking for your shipment. Be prepared to discuss your Cool Chain shipping options.

Have the shipping and receiving information ready
  • Shipper’s name, address, telephone numbers
  • Consignee/recipient name, address, telephone numbers
  • City of origin and destination
  • For AC Absolute° and AC Pharmacair: 24-hour emergency contact name, telephone numbers
Understand the shipping costs

Note that shipping rates can vary significantly depending on the AC Cool Chain solution, service level and options that you select. Your Air Canada Cargo agent will help you evaluate your shipping needs and total shipping costs. General information about Rates, Charges and Fees

Arrange your booking

Know how to .

Ready to book? Contact Air Canada Cargo

Before Tendering Your Shipment

Ready to drop-off your shipment? Make sure the tender process goes smoothly by following these steps to ensure your Cool Chain shipment is ready for carriage.

Have your Air Waybill ready

For details about completing your Air Waybill for temperature-sensitive cargo, see .

Know your Booking Confirmation number

This will be provided when your booking is complete.

Gather all required documentation

This will include any applicable forms, declarations or disclosure documents required for your shipment.

Ensure that your shipment is ready for carriage

For perishables and temperature-sensitive cargo this involves proper packaging, protection from temperature variations and appropriate labelling and identification. In addition, all shipments must be in compliance with all general IATA shipping requirements. See

Check the weight and dimensions of your shipment

They must match with the details provided on your AWB.

Know where and when to tender your shipment

For more information visit .

Tracking Your Shipment
Tracking Your Shipment
Tools to help you track your shipment every step of the way