In an effort to protect the vigorous trade industry, while also promoting security in trade across borders, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers a voluntary program, known as Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) to organizations that want to receive the benefits of reduced inspections, increased predictability and transparency, and amplified security throughout their supply chains.

Companies who achieve CTPAT certification must have a documented process for determining and alleviating risks throughout their international supply chain. This allows companies to be considered low risk, resulting in expedited processing of their cargo, including fewer Customs examinations. Attaining CTPAT certification however, can be a time-consuming and paper-intensive process.

Due to its complexity, the decision from an organization on whether or not to participate in the CTPAT program is often based on the availability of manpower to manage the program, including soliciting information from suppliers, organizing the responses, and maintaining the information. Integration Point CTPAT Assessment Software simplifies management of the entire CTPAT program.

Integration Point CTPAT Assessment Software drastically reduces the time involved in meeting the requirements of CBP’s recommended 5-Step Risk Assessment Process, including conducting vulnerability assessments of business partners, mapping cargo flow and conducting threat assessments. Decreasing the time of analysis allows companies to proactively prepare their applications, as well as maintain status. Integration Point CTPAT Assessment Software also provides the ability to electronically collect, standardize, and organize all supplier data required for CTPAT certification into one centralized data repository.

For those organizations that have already received CTPAT certification, Integration Point CTPAT Assessment Software assists with maintaining CTPAT status by supporting the collection of up-to-date supplier information on an annual basis. Plus, with the automatic triggering of follow-up notifications, companies can rest assured they will be ready when the time comes to revalidate with CBP.

Using the right technology, the processes of supplier data collection, organization, and risk analysis can be done easily - without requiring large investments into IT infrastructure or resources. After all, the main goal of the CTPAT program is not to add more work for the importer, but to help increase the security of all global supply chains that bring products into the US.

What is Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT)?

A direct result of 9/11 terrorist attack on the US, The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) certification program was launched in November 2001 as a voluntary program offered by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the goals of improving security and facilitation. With only seven major importers certifying at the beginning, the CTPAT program has grown to over 10,000 participants today. This includes critical players in the global supply chain such as US importers, customs brokers, terminal operators, carriers and foreign manufacturers. These organizations receive the benefits of reduced inspections, increased compliance and amplified security throughout their supply chains, while working with CBP to protect all supply chains from concealment of terrorist weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.

CTPAT Benefits

Becoming a CTPAT certified organization has many benefits. While the process to become CTPAT certified is time-consuming, the benefits can far outweigh the costs of certification. Those companies that receive CTPAT certification can expect:

  • Increased ability to predict lead times
  • Decreased disruptions in the supply chain
  • Reduced wait times for carriers at the US borders
  • Improved security for the workforce
  • Reduced cargo theft
Identifying Who Can Apply For CTPAT Certification

The CTPAT program is open to numerous entities that operate within the international supply chain. Parties that may be eligible include Importers, Highway Carriers, Long Haul Mexican Highway Carriers, Air Carriers, Rail Carriers, Sea Carriers, Consolidators, 3PLs, Foreign Manufacturers, Marine Port Authorities, Terminal Operators and Custom Brokers. Each entity will have its own set of eligibility requirements and minimum security criteria.

Companies wishing to participate in the CTPAT program must complete an online application that includes completion of a Company Profile, Supply Chain Security Profile and an acknowledgement of agreement to voluntarily participate. In completing the supply chain security profile, companies must complete a comprehensive self assessment of supply chain security procedures using the CTPAT minimum security criteria or guidelines. These guidelines encompass the following areas:

  • Business Partner Requirements
  • Procedural Security
  • Physical Security
  • Information Technology Security
  • Personnel Security
  • Conveyance Security
  • Access Controls
  • Education and Training
  • Manifest Procedures

A full list of these criteria by entity – including eligibility requirements - can be found at the US CBP website, click here for the full list.

CTPAT Mutual Recognition

Mutual Recognition (MR) refers to those activities associated with signing of a document between U.S. CBP and a foreign Customs Administration that allows for an exchange of information. The document indicates that security requirements or standards of the foreign partnership program, as well as its validation procedures, are the same or similar to CTPAT. The essential concept of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) is that CTPAT and the foreign program are compatible in both theory and practice so that one program will recognize the validation findings of the other program.

As of March 2013, seven MRAs have been signed by CBP with:

  • New Zealand Customs Service - Secure Export Scheme Program (SES) – June 2007
  • Canada Border Services Agency - Partners in Protection Program (PIP) – June 2008
  • Jordan Customs Department - Golden List Program (GLP) – June 2007
  • Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau - Authorised Economic Operator Program (AEO) –June 2009
  • Korean Customs Service – Authorized Econonic Operator Program (AEO) – June 2010
  • European Union – Authorized Economic Operator Program (AEO) – May 2012
  • Taiwan – General of Customs, Taiwan Ministry of Finance’s – Authorized Economic Operator Program.* – November 2012

*Note: This MRA is signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States. CTPAT and Taiwan AEO are the designated parties responsible for implementing the MRA.

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