The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) was established in November 2001 in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks. It is a voluntary incentive-based program in which US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) partners with members of the trade community to strengthen global supply chain security and prevent the supply chain from being compromised by terrorist organizations.
Who is eligible for CTPAT?
There are 12 different types of business entities that are eligible for CTPAT membership, including importers, exporters, carriers, third-party logistics (3PL) providers, consolidators, and customs brokers. For an importer to be eligible to join CTPAT, it must:
- Be an active US importer or non-resident Canadian importer that has imported goods into the US within the past 12 months
- Have an active US importer of record (IOR) number
- Have a valid continuous import bond registered with CBP
- Operate a business office staffed in the US or Canada
- Designate a company officer who will be the primary cargo security officer responsible for CTPAT
- Commit to maintaining the CTPAT supply chain security criteria outlined in the CTPAT Importer Agreement
- Complete a supply chain security profile in the CTPAT portal, identifying how it will develop, maintain, and enhance internal policy to comply with the CTPAT importer security criteria
- Have no unpaid debt owed to CBP at the time of the application for which a final judgment or administrative disposition has been rendered
There are similar eligibility requirements for the other types of business entities eligible for CTPAT membership.
What are the advantages to CTPAT certification?
CTPAT is a voluntary program, but achieving CTPAT certification provides significant advantages for importers, exporters, and other companies with substantial international supply chains. These benefits include:
- Reduced number of CBP examinations
- Shorter wait times at the border and front of the line inspections (ahead of non-CTPAT shipments)
- Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at land borders
- Expedited clearance of sea vessels through the Advanced Qualified Unlading Approval Pilot ("AQUA Lane")
- Priority entrance of goods following a natural disaster or terrorist attack
- Expedited screening with worldwide security partners from some of the foreign Customs administrations that have signed Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) with the US
- Assignment of a Supply Chain Security Specialist
- Access to the CTPAT web-based portal, as well as CTPAT materials and events
Download the Practice Note Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: A Guide for US Importers with a free trial to Practical Law Connect.