What is CTPAT and Other FAQs

If you are involved in export and import business, you might have come across the term CTPAT and wondered what it was all about. Here are questions and answers on different things you need to know about CTPAT.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

What is CTPAT, and why is it essential to international trade?

What is CTPAT? CTPAT is an abbreviation for Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. It is a voluntary initiative by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in partnership with the business community to improve supply chain and curb terrorism. It aims to enhance border security and strengthen the international supply chain by preventing the concealment of weapons involved in terrorist activities. Through public-private collaboration, the CBP achieves its goals of improving border security and facilitate the free flow of global trade. On the other hand, CTPAT partners benefit from reduced fees and faster freight procedures, as well as confidential business information from existing members.

Why was CTPAT created?

The CTPAT program was launched in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. It was oriented towards securing all goods that are imported into the United States. The program was created to increase the involvement of the business community in the fight against terrorism. Through CTPAT, CBP partners with businesses to identify security gaps, protect the supply chain, and implement specific safety measures and industry’s best practices.

What does being CTPAT certified mean?

It means that an organization has completed the application procedures and after a comprehensive assessment of your business by CBP, it has verified that your enterprise has adhered and met the CTPAT security criteria.

How do organizations become CTPAT certified?

Generally, CTPAT certification follows three steps:

  • The first step calls for the interested company to perform a comprehensive risk assessment and document their findings.
  • The second thing is for the organization to submit a basic application through the CTPAT online portal.
  • The third step is for the enterprise to fill a supply chain security profile detailing how the company is adhering to the CTPAT minimum security criteria.

Once a company completes the application, as well as fills the supply chain security profile, its materials are reviewed by CBP for approval or disapproval.

How long does it take to become CTPAT certified?

The application process for the CTPAT program is done online. After that, an evaluation of the company’s profile is done for 30-60 days after a company or entity submits the supply chain security questionnaire. CBP has up to 90-days to either accept the company into the program or reject its application.

Are there associated costs when joining?

Joining the CTPAT program is free. However, for an organization to comply with any standards, they may incur costs that are associated with operational improvements. Enterprises that wish to be part of this program need to ensure that they adhere and maintain the required standards such as having the right technology.

What is a CTPAT validation?

It a process through which CBP representatives meet with a company’s staff and visits a few of their selected domestic sites to evaluate and verify that supply chain security measures, guidelines are being followed. They also seek to know if the terms of the security profile are correct.

Is a CTPAT validation the same as a CBP audit?

It is vitally essential to understand that a CTPAT validation is not the same thing as a CBP audit. A CTPAT validation seeks to certify that an organization has met the voluntary and exemplary standards beyond compliance. On the other hand, a CBP audit revolves around mandatory regulatory compliance. It involves things such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) assessments, as well as trade compliance.

What are the benefits?

Besides letting an organization take an active role in fighting terrorism, the CTPAT program comes with a broad range of benefits for its member/applicants. These include:

  • Shorter wait times at the border
  • Assignment of a Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSS)
  • Eligibility for various intuitive government pilot programs such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Secure Supply Chain program.
  • Unlimited access to the CTPAT Status Verification Interface (SVI)
  • Eligibility to attend various CBP sponsored CTPAT conferences
  • Access to loads of confidential data from members
  • Increased supply chain integrity
  • Reduced number of CBP examinations
  • Importer eligibility to take part in the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA)
  • Easy access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes at land borders.

How do I file ISF for U.S. Customs?

As an importer, you can legally file an ISF for U.S. Customs using CBP certified software providers that are listed on the CBP website. You can self-file your ISF or utilize services provided by various intermediaries. Self-file, however, eliminates the costs charged by providers and reduce the touch points.

What happens if an organization fails to meet the CTPAT guidelines and minimum-security criteria?

Joining the CTPAT program means you agree to meet and maintain their set standards. Therefore, failure to do so may result in suspension or removal of the CTPAT certification status and associated benefits.

Companies looking to become CTPAT certified or maintain their certification must stay current with all the recent changes or requirements of the program.  The guidelines provided by CBP for the CTPAT program identify many different areas that a company must or should follow.  One of those is to educate your entire staff on the CTPAT program.  With Global Training Center you can find the right level of training you need for everyone in your organization.  From simply providing a self-paced recorded and graded CTPAT awareness class for your entire organization or a live CTPAT training course where you get the most updated and recent regulations.  If your needs are beyond these requirements, contact us for a private session where we will customize training to meet all your expectations and goals for a well trained team.


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