The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) security program concentrating on improving the security of private companies' supply chains concerning terrorism.
CTPAT recognizes that CBP can ensure the highest level of cargo security by close cooperation with the ultimate proprietors of the international supply chain, such as carriers, consolidators, importers, manufacturers, and licensed customs brokers.
What is CTPAT certification?
CTPAT 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 the principle stakeholders of the international supply chain such as importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers.
Today, there are more than 11,400 certified partners spanning the gamut of the trade community in the program.
The list of 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.
• Mexican long‐haul carriers.
Companies that become CTPAT-certified agree to carry out specific security requirements. These requirements spread on all elements and parties in a given company’s supply chain, including manufacturing and distribution facilities, 3PL providers, and carrier partners.
The program focuses on improving security throughout the supply chain, starting at the point of origin (including manufacturer, supplier, or vendor) up to the distribution to the destination.
As a result, the program helps CBP achieve its goals of improving security while facilitating the flow of global trade. In the course of enrolling, certifying, and validating CTPAT applicants/partners and their supply chains, the CTPAT system will receive personally identifiable information and confidential business information from the applicant/partner, as well as sensitive law enforcement information from existing law enforcement systems.
The program puts the onus on companies to implement security best practices across the supply chain to ensure the safety of goods entering the country.
The benefits of becoming CTPAT certified
1. A dedicated supply chain security specialist plus access to educational resources.
You’ll have the opportunity to work with a specialist from CBP to identify and resolve any security issues in your supply chain.
You’ll also get access to a library of training materials to make sure everyone in your company follows proper security procedures.
This is especially beneficial if you’re required to comply with an industry-specific regulation, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Foreign Supplier Verification Program.
2. Faster transport of goods across the border.
The faster you can get your goods across the border, the sooner you can sell them. CTPAT certification helps you achieve this goal in several ways:
- Shorter wait times at the border
- Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes at the borders with Canada and Mexico
- Fewer CBP inspections, plus the ability to skip ahead of non-CTPAT certified containers in the inspection line
- The ability to get your cargo released by CBP faster
3. Priority consideration following an emergency.
In the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, CTPAT certified companies are eligible to resume business first.
4. Lower fines.
If you make a mistake and find yourself facing a penalty — for example, because of an error in your Import Security Filing — your fine will be up to 50% less than the standard rate.
5. Potential for more business.
Many domestic companies will only do business with importers that are CTPAT certified. This gives you a competitive edge by enhancing your brand image and providing you with an important certification to include in your marketing material.
6. Site, personnel, and data security.
In an article published in the Journal of Commerce, Jan Raymond identified several hidden benefits of CTPAT certification.
These include site, personnel, and data security. Here’s what Raymond has to say:
- Site security. Thieves — both external and internal — generally go for the lowest-hanging fruit. By putting CTPAT compliance practices in place, you make your company an undesirable target. This will lower your losses from theft as well as your insurance premiums.
- Personnel security. The CTPAT security checks will “deter questionable personnel from applying” and also reduce your likelihood of hiring someone illegally. Both of these things will improve the overall integrity of your workforce.
- Data security. By securing your company’s information systems, you’ll be less likely to have your data stolen by someone who’s up to no good.
7. Improved internal processes.
This one also comes from Jan Raymond. He notes that the process improvements required by CTPAT will make your records more accurate, boost productivity, and improve your quality assurance (QA) process.
More business, better security, lower fines — sounds pretty good, right? Begin your compliance journey today by tracking visitors to your facility using a visitor management system. To learn more about CTPAT certification, visit the CBP website.
Recently, the Digital Edge team helped one of the clients to successfully pass the CTPAT audit, you can look into the Case Study here.