What is the importance of CTPAT in the trade industry

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Security and efficiency in the supply chain are fundamental in international trade, so the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) plays a significant role. 

This program, driven by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), establishes the security standard for companies participating in global trade. In this article, we will explore the importance of CTPAT in the trade industry and how it can benefit companies looking to improve their security practices.

What is C-TPAT

The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, better known as the CTPAT, is one of the many protection strategies from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This consists of a special program between customs and exporters that looks to protect and secure all goods that are imported into the U.S. against terrorism. It was created in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks.


Understanding the Basics of Customs-Trade 

International trade is crucial for many industries daily, and with so frequent shipments and transactions occurring at the borders; customs have to make sure there are regulations in place that ensure the safe trade of goods between countries in a way everybody benefits from international commerce.

Businesses must then become compliant with customs laws, regulations, requirements, and processes of each country’s customs where goods are being imported and exported to prevent and combat terrorism, trafficking, illegal entry, and cargo Theft.

Partnership Against Terrorism

C-TPAT partnership is available for importers, carriers, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers, and participation is completely voluntary. Many important businesses choose to enroll in it as it tremendously benefits the trade business.  

The main focus of the C-TPAT is to ensure that U.S. borders through customs are safe and protected while international trade occurs, it aims to provide a high level of cargo security and prevent any terrorist acts.

CTPAT Requirements and Criteria

The requirements and criteria of CTPAT are fundamental to consolidating the security of the global supply chain. 

Companies wishing to participate in the program must comply with a series of standards established by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These requirements range from facility security to supply chain verification. 

To be accepted into the program, companies must demonstrate a commitment to security through measures that protect their assets and prevent the infiltration of illicit activities in their supply chain. 

This includes conducting risk assessments, implementing access controls, staff security training, and adopting tracking and monitoring technologies.

Minimum Security Standards and Guidelines

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires importers and other program participants to meet the minimum security criteria (MSC)

This means participants meet CBP’s standards and their business is then classified according to the risk level they represent. There are 12 classifications of members based on the type of business conducted: 

  1. Air Carriers
  2. Consolidators (Air Freight Consolidators, Ocean Transport Intermediaries, and Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC)
  3. Customs Brokers 
  4. U.S. Exporters
  5. Canadian and Mexican Manufacturers
  6. Highway Carriers
  7. Importers
  8. Mexico Long Haul Carriers
  9. Marine Port Authority and Terminal Operators
  10. Rail Carriers
  11. Sea Carriers
  12. Third-Party Logistics Services Providers(3PL)

Besides the business type classification, the CTPAT Certification criteria are also based on the risk levels and are divided into three main categories, each with its subcategories for businesses to comply with:

1. Corporate Security

  • Security vision and responsibility (new). Companies must have and establish a clear security vision within the organization where they assign responsibilities for security measures. Security must be ensured as a priority at all levels of the company.
  • Risk assessment. Businesses need to conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain. 
  • Business partner requirements. They need to ensure security standards are set for partners to also meet CTPAT criteria and maintain security throughout the supply chain.
  • Cybersecurity. Measures to protect digital assets and information from cyber threats must be in place to safeguard data integrity and confidentiality.

2. Transportation Security

  • Conveyance and IIT (Instruments of International Traffic) security. Ensuring the security of vehicles and equipment used in transportation to prevent unauthorized access or tampering.
  • Seal security. Companies have to make sure seals on containers are properly secured and verified to prevent tampering during transit.
  • Procedural security. There needs to be implementation of secure procedures for handling and transporting goods.
  • Agricultural security. Aspiring members also need to prevent the introduction of agricultural contaminants to protect agriculture and the environment.

3. People and Physical Security

  • Physical access. Access to facilities has to be controlled and monitored at all times to ensure that only authorized personnel can enter restricted areas.
  • Physical security. This includes physical security measures such as fences, gates, and barriers to protect facilities and goods.
  • Personnel security. Screening and training of employees must take place as a standard to ensure they are aware of security protocols.
  • Security training and threat awareness. Providing ongoing security training to employees to increase awareness of potential threats and how to respond to security incidents effectively.

Overall, the goal of having these requirements is for companies to strengthen the security of their supply chains and contribute to a safer global trade environment.

Benefits of working with a C-TPAT certified company

Working with a CTPAT certified company as EP Logistics,  has many benefits, such as:

  • Getting a reduced number of CBP examinations
  • Front-of-the-line inspections 
  • shorter times at the border
  • Sometimes exemptions from certain exams

A supply chain security specialist assigned specifically for your company, access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes, priority to resume business after a natural disaster or terrorist attack, eligibility to participate in the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA) just to mention some.

Security Advantages for Supply Chain Management

Additionally, being recognized as a trusted trade partner by foreign Customs administrations that have also signed Mutual Recognition with the United States gives your company a high status in the global trade industry. CTPAT certification means: 

  • Improved security
  • Faster transport
  • Priority in emergencies
  • Lower fines
  • Global Recognition
  • More efficient operations, and enhanced supply chain security.

Why does EP Logistics participate in C-TPAT?

As part of our promise to provide our clients with a service of excellence, EP Logistics LLC is proudly certified by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a CTPAT Tier I, US Consolidator. 

With this certification, our company’s commitment to maintaining the highest level of security for the well-being of our facilities and the United States is recognized. As a member of the CTPAT program since 2010, security continues to be an integral part of the culture and business processes of EP Logistics.

EP Logistics maintains a multilayered security program that is consistent with the CTPAT minimum-security criteria (MSC) and remains committed to protecting our organization, employees, and our client’s supply chain from any illegal or illicit activities at all times.

Security is everyone’s responsibility. All employees and business partners, including contractors, service providers, and visitors adhere to the CTPAT security policies and procedures,  that are in place at each of our facilities, preventing Supply Chain Security Breaches and ensuring that your business is in excellent hands at all times.

If you’re looking for your business to enjoy reduced front-of-the-line inspection time, expedited customs clearance, Improved turnaround time, reduction of possible CBP penalties, and stronger control of your supply chain, EP Logistics has you covered.

Get in touch and experience the difference between trusting your business to an experienced C TPAT-certified partner.

Gabriela Uribe

Gabriela Uribe

Gabriela Uribe serves as the cornerstone of the sales support team at EP Logistics, leveraging over a decade of seasoned expertise to deliver exceptional service.