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Understanding the new CTPAT minimum security criteria 

The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) is a voluntary incentives-based program in which US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) partners with members of the trade community to strengthen global supply chain security. Importers and other entities who are members of CTPAT must ensure their supply chain security practices meet certain minimum security criteria (MSC) established by CBP. In return, CTPAT members receive various benefits, including reduced cargo examinations and shorter wait times at border crossings.

What are the new CTPAT criteria?

In May 2019, CBP updated the MSC with new and strengthened criteria to address the current global supply chain environment and the threats it faces today. These updates are the first major revisions to the MSC since CTPAT's inception in November 2001, and are the result of a two-year collaboration with the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee and members of the trade community. CBP issued 12 new MSC workbooks for each type of business entity eligible for CTPAT membership, including importers, exporters, consolidators, and customs brokers.

CBP categorized the new criteria for importers into three focus areas:

  • Corporate security
  • People and physical security
  • Transportation security

Within these focus areas, 12 criteria categories apply across the supply chain, including several new requirements and recommendations related to the following areas:

  • Cybersecurity
  • The protection of the supply chain against agricultural contaminants and pests
  • The prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing
  • The expansion of security technology to strengthen existing physical security requirements, such as the use of intrusion alarms and security camera systems

Other CTPAT changes

The new MSC employs a risk-based approach, explicitly designating each criteria within the 12 categories as a "must" or a "should" based on risk.

CBP also strengthened other requirements, including those related to business partner security and security of cargo containers. For example, CBP added recommendations and requirements to mitigate the risk of collusion between employees, such as between drivers and dispatch personnel.

CTPAT members are required to implement the new MSC during the remainder of 2019. CBP recommends members do so using a phased-in approach. Validations on the new MSC will begin in early 2020. CTPAT members should carefully review the updated MSC, including the newly added and strengthened criteria, and incorporate necessary changes into their existing CTPAT policies and procedures.

The Practice Note Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: A Guide for US Importers, available with a free trial to Practical Law Connect, can help your organization understand the CTPAT requirements and benefits, and additional issues to consider.

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