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back to index backAMERItalk May,  2005

New cargo security guidelines take effect

C-TPAT members must meet new criteria for certification

Members of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) have a new set of guidelines to follow to maintain their certifications. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published new C-TPAT Importer Security Criteria, which require members to strengthen physical security for shipments, and verify their supply chain partners are taking steps to do the same.

"As the program has grown, so has our need for more clearly defined security criteria to establish the minimum, baseline security expectations for membership in this voluntary, incentives-based program," said CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner.

C-TPAT was established in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks. Members of the voluntary program agree to meet certain security standards, and in exchange can move goods through U.S. Customs more easily. According to CBP, C-TPAT importers are six times less likely to undergo a security related cargo examination, and four times less likely to be subject to a trade-related examination than non-members. There are currently around 8,800 enrolled companies.

The new rules took effect March 25, but have been in development since last October.

Importers are required to properly seal and maintain shipping containers, using a high-security seal that meets or exceeds the PAS ISO 17712 standards, and verify the integrity of the container via inspection.

Members also need an employee identification system, a pre-screening system for new employees, and have procedures in place for challenging and removing unauthorized visitors.

The rules also spell out criteria for container storage, physical access controls, documentation processing, accurate manifesting and reconciliation, and security training.

Under the business partner requirements, importers must "have written and verifiable processes for the selection of business partners including manufacturers, product suppliers, and vendors, and documentation substantiating that business partners throughout their supply chain are meeting C-TPAT security criteria, or equivalent supply chain security program criteria administered by a foreign Customs administration."

For supply chain partners not eligible for C-TPAT certification, importers will require those companies to demonstrate that they are meeting C-TPAT security criteria via written/electronic confirmation.

New members will need to meet the criteria before they can be certified; existing members can phase-in the new procedures through September.

Current C-TPAT members have 60 days (ending May 26) to meet the container security, physical security and physical access criteria. By July 26, members must address internal security elements, including personnel security, procedural security, information technology security, and establish a security training and threat awareness program.

By Sept. 26, members have to meet the business partner requirements, pushing the security enhancements back into their supply chains, from the point of stuffing to point of arrival.

Source: Frontline Solutions newsletter - GAI

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