Industry News

CTPAT Gets an Upgrade – Now is a Great Time to Join


Would you like to take an active role in protecting the U.S. from acts of terrorism, human and drug trafficking and agricultural and cyber threats? The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program is a voluntary program where the trade partners with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect the U.S. from these very things.

The CTPAT program was implemented in November 2001 in response to terrorist threats against the U.S., including the September 11th terrorist attacks. The program is designed for CBP to partner with the trade to reduce security risks through strengthening and securing supply chains.

As much has changed since CTPAT was first implemented, over 18 years ago, CBP has partnered with the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) to review, update and enhance the program to address current threats to the security and safety of U.S. citizens and the environment.

Through this effort, CBP has updated the Minimum Security Criteria (MSC) for each of the 12 different eligible members (Importers, Exporters, air, rail, highway and sea carriers, 3PLs, Consolidators, Marine Port Terminals, Customs Brokers, Canadian and Mexican Manufacturers, and Mexican Long Haul Highway Carriers). The MSC provide specific program requirements for each segment of the supply chain, with three focus areas and 12 criteria categories. The update includes new criteria including Corporate Vision and Responsibility, Cybersecurity and Agricultural Security, and many updates were made to the existing criteria.

Actively identifying and managing risks in your supply chain is a competitive advantage. As a CTPAT member, you will strengthen your internal controls and minimizing unexpected costs and threats to your brand reputation. Additionally, some of the benefits provided by membership are:

  • Reduced number of CBP examinations
  • Front of the line inspections
  • Possible exemption from Stratified/Intensive Exams
  • Shorter wait times at the border
  • Assignment of a Customs Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSC)
  • Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at the land borders
  • Access to the CTPAT web-based Portal (2.0) system and a library of training materials
  • Possibility of enjoying additional benefits by being recognized as a trusted trade Partner by foreign Customs administrations that have signed Mutual Recognition with the U.S.
  • Business resumption priority following a natural disaster or terrorist attack

What this all really means is that, as a CTPAT member, you will have Supply Chain Predictability because your shipments will be less likely to be delayed due to Customs cargo exams. CBP will know you and that you have a secure supply chain. You will save money, as the costs of exams will be diminished. The program requires you to communicate and audit your business partners, which will strengthen your relationships with those partners and reduce the risk of being a part of unexpected or unwanted actions by a business partner. You will be better able to assess your own security vulnerabilities and risks as you will build strong, documented internal controls and business practices to ensure your supply chain is secure from the foreign manufacture facility to your facility.

To take advantage of these benefits, a company must commit to the required time and resources for program application and maintenance. The first step in becoming a CTPAT member is to review the CTPAT MSC related to your business and conduct a Risk Assessment. Once a company feels confident that they are able to meet the MSC, the next step is to submit an application through the CTPAT portal.

Currently, CBP is in the process of updating the Portal to make the new criteria adjustments, and as such, CBP is temporarily suspending application submissions until June 1, 2020. However, interested companies can use this time to review the new MSC, document related internal controls, conduct Risk Assessments, and review all the available information and resources on CBP’s CTPAT website including the Introductory Video, best practices and the Five Step Risk Assessment Guide.

Once CBP has opened the updated Portal 2.0, and a company has submitted the CTPAT application, the company will be required to complete a Company Profile and a Security Profile, which describes how the company is meeting the MSC. A CTPAT Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSC) will be assigned to the company to review the application, profile, and to provide program guidance. Once certified into the program, CBP will validate the company within a year of certification. The Validation Process typically includes a site visit for CBP and the company to jointly review the security profile and identify corrective actions and best practices. This is a collaborative effort to ensure that the company has effectively executed the program.

In today’s world, your supply chain faces more risks than ever before. If you are not already a member, now is the time to review the program requirements and consider becoming a CTAPT partnering member. CTPAT membership is voluntary, and there are no costs associated with joining. CTPAT is a highly recognized program globally, and membership is a competitive advantage. Keep in mind, to be a member of C-TPAT is one thing, but to maintain it requires imbedding the policies and procedures into standard business practices. Companies must be committed to continued review and maintenance of internal controls and processes related CTPAT MSC. For more information or assistance in applying for CTPAT, contact our office.