Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
C-TPAT is a voluntary program in which all participating entities in the import supply chain cooperate with U.S. Customs in establishing acceptable security practices in all phases of their operations. By reviewing existing security procedures and implementing enhanced security arrangements, companies will be able to be certified by U.S. Customs as C-TPAT members.
The C-TPAT program provides two major benefits for Customs:
- On the macro level, the border security of the United States is enhanced. This is the major mission of Customs in today’s environment.
- On the operational level, if a pool of importers, carriers and other transportation entities can be considered to be very low risk, then Customs can use the saved resources elsewhere to enhance their ability to deter terrorism. This allows Customs to make the best use of their allotted funds to carry out their mission.
But what about the importers? What do they get out of C-TPAT?
Customs notes the following benefits for members:
- A reduced number of cargo inspections.
- An assigned account manager for your company.
- Access to the C-TPAT membership list.
- More emphasis on self-policing as opposed to Customs verifications.
Here are the practical effects of membership:
- Reduced physical inspections are definitely important. This could save an importer $500 (or more) per container or shipment.
- Entry priority is escalated.
- Reduced document review and non-intrusive inspections can save days in any supply chain.
- Applicant is considered a C-TPAT Partner as soon as the application for certification has been submitted.
- The more C-TPAT Partners who participate in supply chain, the lower the chances of cargo inspection.
- C-TPAT membership is a mitigating factor in the case of potential fines or penalties.
- C-TPAT membership will become a requirement for transportation service providers.
- The cost of certification to importers will be, in most cases, less than the cost of not becoming certified.
Importers should visit the Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s Website to review the recommended security arrangement and evaluate the cost of implementing them to arrive at an ROI against the practical benefits above.
Steps for C-TPAT Certification:
- Complete and submit the Agreement to Voluntarily Participate in C-TPAT.You will be a C-TPAT Partner, but not a Certified Partner
- Next, complete and submit the Supply Chain Security Profile Questionnaire. If this is acceptable to Customs, approval will be granted as a Certified Partner. Certain changes or enhancements in existing security processes may be requested by Customs
- Assigned Customs Account Manager will try to evaluate and enhance importer’s security processes on an ongoing basis.
A blog on the new C-TPAT guidelines and how companies can use automation to stay compliant:-
For assistance with C-TPAT certification or for C-TPAT Training, go to our Training and Education page here.