C-TPAT and its Relation to Exporters

         The Customs Trade and Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program is a voluntary program between the government and private companies and institutions to improve border security by strengthening the integrity of the international supply chain. The program was started under the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006 (Safe Port Act) as a response to the September 11th attacks. In order to be a part of this program, a company must submit basic company and security information through the C-TPAT internet portal, demonstrating that it has met minimum security criteria. Once a company is accepted into the program, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) conducts onsite visits and monitors the company through its trade databases. A company must also comply with the rules set forth for this program under the Safe Port Act. Some of the benefits of this program are that a company may have front of the line privileges of examinations when shipments come into port over companies who are not a part of the program; Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane access to save time for cargo coming across the Mexican and Canadian borders; reduced examination rates; access to training and to the C-TPAT Portal System; and access to Supply Chain Security Specialists. As stated before, in order to receive these benefits a company must comply with the programs initiatives. One of these initiatives is Supply Chain Security Management.

          Under this program, the CBP conducts onsite visits to domestic and foreign facilities, does supply chain risk assessment, and sets forth minimum security guidelines for different sectors of a company’s product supply chain, including exporters. Under the C-TPAT program an exporter is defined as “a person or company who, as the principal party in interest in the export transaction, has the power and responsibility for determining and controlling the sending of the items out of the United States”. In order for an exporter to be eligible they must have met the seven following requirements:

  1. Be an active U.S. Exporter out of the United States. *

  2. Have a business office staffed in the U.S.

  3. Be an active U.S. Exporter with a documentable

  • Employee Identification Number (EIN), or

  • Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number,

4. Have a documented export security program and a designated officer or manager who will act as the C-TPAT program main point of contact. In addition, the participant should have an alternate point of contact should the designated point of contact be unavailable.

5. Commit to maintaining the C-TPAT supply chain security criteria as outlined in the C-TPAT Exporter agreement.

6. Create and provide CBP with a C-TPAT supply chain security profile which identifies how the Exporter will meet, maintain, and enhance internal policy to meet the C-TPAT Exporter security criteria.

7. In order to be eligible the Exporter must have an acceptable level of compliance for export reporting for the latest 12-month period and be in good standing with U.S. regulatory bodies such as: Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Treasury, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Department of Defense.

Once an exporter becomes eligible, it must adhere to several requirements in order to maintain compliance with the program. The first of these requirements is related to an exporter’s business partners. The exporter must have written procedures and verifiable processes for screening and selecting business partners. If a business partner is selected, the exporter must have written documentation showing that the business partner is or is not C-TPAT certified. If the partner is not certified, those partners must demonstrate and verify compliance with the program. Exporters must maintain internal controls and undergo a review of the supply chain with partners. Partners participating in a Foreign Administration Supply Chain Security program must indicate and verify this to the exporter. The next requirements for exporters concern container security. An exporter must have procedures in place for container inspection, they must maintain sealing integrity, and they must have containers in a secure area. Exporters must also have tracking and monitoring procedures for transportation partners. Other requirements relate to physical and personnel security. An exporter must have physical procedures and access controls in place to prevent unauthorized entry into facilities, as well as methods for ensuring the prevention and detection of undocumented material. Security processes must be in place when dealing with cargo and for the screening of employees. Finally, the exporter must have a documented security program and maintain protection using information technology systems.  The entire supply chain must be made secure for the company to be in compliance with C-TPAT requirements.       

Akemi Malone, Intern, Global Trade Expertise