For the past few years, we?ve all been hearing the buzz about Customs - Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and some of us have jumped on the band wagon.  In fact, over 10,000 companies - including importers, customs brokers, carriers and other eligible firms are voluntary certified participants in this terrorism avoidance initiative.

Are you interested in learning what this initiative is all about, but have been hearing how difficult it is to obtain certification, and what tremendous resources it will take to get there, and how the costs seem to outweigh the benefits?   There is some truth in this, but most anything worth having comes with a price. So, we have to ask ourselves, is C-TPAT certification worth pursuing?  C-TPAT is still a fairly young program and  it continues to evolve.  That being said, the challenges that come along with developing your procedures and policies will be quite unique to your company, as will the benefits of participation.

Some of the current benefits that come with C-TPAT participation are:

  • Reduced number of cargo inspections
  • Emphasis on self-policing as opposed to Customs verification

These benefits translate into some valuable practical considerations, including:

  • Cost savings - a full Customs exam can cost upward of $500 - $1000 per container
  • The more parties involved in a transaction who are C-TPAT partners, the lower the likely-hood of cargo inspections
  • C-TPAT membership is considered a mitigating factor in the case of potential penalty matters
  • Ongoing familiarity with the program decreases the necessary time spent and resources involved in assuring compliance

As the program evolves, it is expected that the benefits will continue to outweigh the costs or perceived disadvantages to becoming a participant in the program.  While there are no commitments from Customs, the trade has requested that Customs consider a number of new benefits for the ?next generation? of C-TPAT.  Some of these benefits include:

  • Basing cargo release on 10+2 data and permitting monthly entry of cargo aligned with the periodic monthly statement
  • Expedited responses to ruling requests
  • Enhanced penalty mitigation
  • Prior disclosure benefits
  • Further lowering of the number of inspections
  • Tax incentives for supply chain security and safety enhancements
  • Mutual recognition with other countries? approved security programs

What is involved in becoming C-TPAT certified?  In a nutshell:

  • Complete and submit the Agreement to Voluntarily Participate in C-TPAT
  • Complete and submit the Supply Chain Security Profile Questionnaire - be aware that it is possible that Customs will request or require changes and upgrades to your processes
  • Assure that your stated procedures are followed through on, and updated as necessary Some of the absolutely, positively, must haves in order to become C-TPAT certified, and to be an effective participant in the program include:
  • Having the full commitment and support from high-level company management
  • Integrating C-TPAT participation into your overall supply chain security program
  • Assigning dedicated staff or team to manage the project on a continuing basis

This blog is a very informal and brief summation of the good, the bad & the ugly about C-TPAT.  For more detailed information, please see the Customs website at:    http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/cargo_security/ctpat/

Pacific Customs Brokers, Inc. is proud to be a participant in the Program.  We will be very pleased to discuss and consult with you on your questions regarding  the possible benefits and hurdles of C-TPAT participation at your convenience.

If you are already a C-TPAT member, please exchange your Status Verification Interface number (SVI) with us via the portal.  If you are unfamiliar with this process, please contact Pacific Customs Brokers for assistance.

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While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.