API Guidelines & PNR Reporting Standards

Physical inspection of a traveller and a travel document is nowadays only a small part of border controls on passengers arriving by air. The rest of the border control process relies on secure electronic data, some being provided at the time the passenger buys a ticket and some at the time the passenger boards an aircraft.

Controls in any case have to be applied before the arrival of the passenger in the country of destination, to enable relevant border agencies to perform risk-based targeted controls on passengers and the goods they are carrying.

The flow of passenger-related information from carriers (airlines) to border control authorities can be divided into two main streams: Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR).

API data is generated during check in. The API Guidelines were initially developed in 1993 by the WCO in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Subsequently, the International Civil Aviation Organization jointed the process and a ‘Contact Committee’ comprising the three organizations was formed. In order to help their respective members implement the API system, the three organizations have jointly published the WCO/IATA/ICAO Guidelines on Advance Passenger Information in 2003, 2010 and now in 2013.

The Guidelines include new provisions to address issues such as security, data protection , mutual administrative assistance and ‘Interactive API’, a more advanced method of passenger processing at airports.

Passenger Name Record data is generated during the booking or buying of an air ticket. Since 2010, the WCO/IATA/ICAO API Contact Committee has been working on updating the electronic reporting standards for PNR. Work related to the ‘PNRGOV’ message for reporting PNR information to government is carried out by a joint industry-government working group led by IATA, called the PNRGOV Working Group. The attached memorandum highlights the achievement of this joint-industry government body, which works under the umbrella of IATA and the WCO/IATA/ICAO API Contact Committee .It underscores the significant contribution of the participating governments towards the development of the PNRGOV standards.

The API Contact Committee acts as the final clearing house for any changes to the reporting standards for both API and PNR. PNRGOV standards are complementary to ICAO’s guidelines on PNR, and are reflective of the consensus achieved between the WCO, IATA and ICAO on matters concerning the reporting of passenger information to governments.

The three organizations also produced a Management Summary to provide a high-level executive brief that describes and distinguishes between the different sources and systems for passenger-related information contained in API and PNR required to be provided by international Carriers to border control agencies.


You will find the API Guidelines and PNR reporting standards in the following section of this page.


I. Management Summary

II. Advance Passenger Information (API) Guidelines

III. Passenger Name Record (PNR) Guidelines

IV. Guidance material relating to passenger information