How to Join C-TPAT

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism

On September 11, 2001, our country’s security awareness was heightened as a result of the terrorist attacks. The United States and other countries initiated new security measures designed to reduce the potential for terrorism. These new security measures impact every business involved in international trade along with every portion of the supply chain. As part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) formally launched the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program on April 16, 2002.

More than 10,000 importers, carriers and intermediaries have joined C-TPAT (while many more are in the process of joining) in a voluntary effort to protect supply chains from terrorists who could use one of the 9 million cargo containers that arrive in the United States each year to smuggle personnel, guns and weapons of mass destruction. The C-TPAT process secures the shipment from the point of origin (manufacturer/supplier/vendor) through the service providers (customs brokers, freight forwarders and other modes of transportation such as truckers, air freight, and ocean carriers) and continues to the point of distribution (warehouse, distribution center, third party warehouse, etc.).  If your company is considered the importer of record and/or the consignee, a carrier—air, rail and sea, a port, a terminal operator, a customs broker and/or freight forwarder-your company is eligible to join C-TPAT.

How Can C-TPAT Help You?

When you import product, customs assigns an undisclosed risk value to your shipment, assessing such risk factors as country of origin, supplier, type of product and developed intelligence. What is a low risk country today may be a high risk country tomorrow. When you import cargo, CBP will verify that you have a C-TPAT certificate. If you have the certificate, CBP deducts points from your risk value. This will result in you being placed in a preferred category, which may mean minimal inspections & audits or no inspections & audits at all. Even if you are inspected, the process is faster if you are a C-TPAT member. All of this translates into reduced inspection fees, customs fees and cargo fees. Most importantly, your product arrives on time.

If you operate on a just in time (JIT) basis or it is a contract order, delays could be disastrous to your operation. According to CBP, C-TPAT members are 6 times less likely to undergo a security related examination and 4 times less likely to undergo a trade related examination as compared to non-C-TPAT members. These significantly fewer cargo examinations help save importers time and money, while leading to a more predictable supply chain.

The other driving force to join C-TPAT is that many of the major retailers and large firms who may be your customers have joined the C-TPAT program. Since they are part of the supply chain, they are strongly encouraging or requiring their vendors to join, in order to continue doing business with them. In some cases, not being a C-TPAT member may prevent you from being eligible to bid on business in the first place. Additional benefits for C-TPAT members include being the first companies to receive their product when the port reopens after a terrorist attack triggers a closure. Furthermore, by being a C-TPAT member, the importer can protect its reputation and profits of his company by avoiding any bad press resulting from a future terrorist disaster. CBP will “work with you” to investigate the weak link in the supply chain if you are a member (in contrast to CBP imposing high fines for weak links when you are not a member). 

How Can Norman Jaspan Associates Assist You?  

We will visit your domestic facility and conduct a survey of your company’s supply chain security program.  This survey will focus on the following areas:

  • Physical & Procedural Security
  • Human Resources
  • Access Control
  • Education & Training
  • Receiving Procedures & Conveyance Security
  • Information Technology (Computer) Controls

We will also provide you with survey forms that you will forward to your foreign suppliers/manufacturers and your service providers (customs broker, freight forwarders, air/ocean carriers, trucking companies, etc.).  Based on these completed surveys, we will provide you with cost-effective solutions so that your company, your service providers and your foreign suppliers will be in compliance with CBP’s current criteria/requirements for C-TPAT membership.  Finally, after compiling all of the information from these surveys, we will create a security profile for your company. This security profile is the “application” you will submit to CBP to join the C-TPAT program.

After becoming a member and enjoying the benefits of the C-TPAT program, CBP will validate your “Executive Summary.” A member of C-TPAT is eligible to join the Importer Self Assessment Program (ISA) as well as many other programs that benefit importers.

If you are interested in joining C-TPAT, or want more information about the program, please contact us.

If you are interested in seeing a list of cities where we are scheduling a trip to conduct C-TPAT sevices, click here.

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