With trade increasing around the world, more and more businesses and governments are looking at ways to secure product when it crosses international borders while at the same time expediting border wait times.

For the United States, that security and fast tracking comes in the form of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program, which is administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service.

C-TPAT is a voluntary public-private sector partnership program which recognizes that CBP can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers.

From its inception in November 2001, C-TPAT has more than 11,400 certified partners spanning the gamut of the trade community. Partners include U.S. importers/exporters, U.S./Canada highway carriers; U.S./Mexico highway carriers; rail and sea carriers; licensed U.S. Customs brokers; U.S. marine port authority/terminal operators; U.S. freight consolidators; ocean transportation intermediaries and non‐operating common carriers; Mexican and Canadian manufacturers; and Mexican long‐haul carriers, all of whom account for over 52% (by value) of cargo imported into the U.S.

How it works

When a company joins C-TPAT, an agreement is made to work with the CBP to protect the supply chain, identify security gaps, and implement specific security measures and best practices. Applicants must address a broad range of security topics and present security profiles that list action plans to guarantee security throughout the supply chain.

C-TPAT members are considered to be of low risk, and are therefore less likely to be examined at a U.S. port of entry.

 Benefits and steps to apply

The CBP has recently released a list of eight C-TPAT benefits being considered as part of the Trusted Trader pilot project that combines trade compliance with security standards that came ahead of the Oct. 3 Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) meeting.

The list includes expedited rulings and an identifying theft program. Other possible benefits include “penalty mitigation/offset,” “reconciliation” and “exemption from random” nonintrusive inspections. The subcommittee also “proposed the establishment of the Trade Compliance Working Group to achieve greater visibility and to socialize upcoming changes due to the implementation of Trade Compliance,” according to International Trade Today.

Existing benefits of C-TPAT are reducing the number of CBP examinations; front of the line inspections; possible exemption from stratified exams; shorter wait times at the border; assignment of a supply chain security specialist to the company; access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at the land borders; access to the C-TPAT web-based portal system and a library of training materials; eligibility for other U.S. Government pilot programs, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s Secure Supply Chain program; and business resumption priority following a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Any business can join C-TPAT at no cost and supply chain facilitators, like Frontier, are able to aid companies in their application to the program.

The first step is for companies to review the C-TPAT minimum security criteria for their businesses to determine eligibility for the program.

The second step is for the company to submit a basic application via the C-TPAT portal system and to agree to voluntarily participate.

The third step is for the company to complete a supply chain security profile. The security profile explains how the company is meeting CTPAT’s minimum security criteria. In order to do this, the company should have already conducted a risk assessment.

Upon satisfactory completion of the application and supply chain security profile, the applicant company is assigned a C-TPAT supply chain security specialist to review the submitted materials and to provide program guidance on an on-going basis.

The C-TPAT program will have up to 90 days to certify the company into the program or to reject the application. If certified, the company will be validated within a year of certification.


-Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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