Since shortly after September 11, 2001, amazingly over sixteen years ago, we have all heard the buzz about the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). To date, over 11,400 carriers, importers, customs brokers and other supply chain partners have become voluntary participants in this initiative to combat terrorism in the ever-expanding evolution of international trade. You may wonder "Only 11,400 members"? However, consider that approximately 52% of cargo (by value) entering the United States is C-TPAT approved. Since our last update on this initiative wherein we stated that as this program evolves, more benefits would be seen by members, it is great to see more benefits come emerge. C-TPAT has become a much more dynamic program. As the sophistication of security has increased, according the US Customs Website, the benefits of membership have also.
Benefits Of C-TPAT Participation Include:
- Reduced number of CBP examinations
- Front of the line inspections
- Possible exemption from Stratified Exams
- Shorter wait times at the border
- Assignment of a Supply Chain Security Specialist to the company
- Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at the land borders
- Access to the C-TPAT web-based Portal 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 United States
- Eligibility for other U.S. Government pilot programs, such as the Food and Drug Administration's Secure Supply Chain program
- Business resumption priority following a natural disaster or terrorist attack
- Importer eligibility to participate in the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA)
- Priority consideration at CBP's industry-focused Centers of Excellence and Expertise
Are you interested in learning what this initiative is all about, but have been deterred from moving forward based on how difficult it is to obtain certification, the tremendous resources it will take, and how the costs appear to outweigh the benefits? There may still be some truth to this these perceived obstacles, but most anything worth obtaining comes with a price and required effort.
So we ask ourselves, is C-TPAT certification worth pursuing? As C-TPAT continues to evolve it becomes richer and more rewarding for members. The challenges that come along with developing your procedures and policies will be quite unique to your company, as will the benefits of participation. Benefits translate into valuable practical considerations including:
- Cost savings - A full Customs exam can cost upwards of $500-$1000 per container. This excludes the loss of time for both carriers and consignees and could be paramount to a shipment of perishable goods.
- Less inspections - The more parties involved in a transaction who are C-TPAT members the lower the likelihood of a cargo inspection.
- Penalty mitigation - C-TPAT membership is considered a mitigating factor in the case of potential penalty matters.
- Increased compliance - Ongoing familiarity with the program decreases the necessary time spent and resources involved in assuring compliance.
As the program continues to evolve, we will continue to see that the benefits outweigh the costs or perceived obstacles and disadvantages of becoming a trusted trader. While there are no commitments from Customs, the trade community has requested that Customs consider a number of new benefits for the ?next generation? of C-TPAT.
Next Generation Benefits Of C-TPAT Could Include:
- Basing cargo release on 10+2 data and permitting monthly entry of cargo aligned with the periodic monthly statements
- 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?
- 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 current processes
- Assure that your stated procedures are followed through on, and updated as necessary
Some of the absolute must-haves or must-dos for becoming C-TPAT certified, and 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 to manage the certification on a continuing basis
Attend An Upcoming C-TPAT Seminar:
To benefit from overall cost savings, expedited border crossings and fewer cargo inspections, it may be of interest to attend our in-class seminar on becoming a Trusted Trader. Owners, Managers and Signing Officers of companies seeking eligibility information and how to get started on the application process are recommended to take part in this two-hour course. Feedback from a recent attendee:
"I have a better understanding on what it takes to become C-TPAT or PIP certified." - Zori Kitanova, Global Logistics Supervisor, Whitewater West Industries
This blog is a brief summation of the C-TPAT certification program. For more detailed information, please click here.