What is CTPAT and Why Is It Important?


What is CTPAT?

The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) voluntary trade partnership program in which CBP and members of the trade community work together to secure and facilitate the movement of legitimate international trade. The program focuses on improving security throughout the supply chain. CTPAT was launched in November 2001.

CTPAT continued to grow since day one. Today, more than 11,400 certified partners in trade community, have been accepted into the program.

Companies that are eligible to become CTPAT-certified:

  • U.S. importers of record
  • U.S. exporters
  • U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico cross-border highway carriers
  • Mexico long-haul highway carriers
  • Rail carriers
  • Sea carriers
  • Air carriers
  • U.S. marine port authority and terminal operators
  • Consolidators (U.S. air freight consolidators, ocean transportation intermediaries and non-vessel operating common carriers)
  • Mexican manufacturers
  • Canadian manufacturers
  • Certain invited foreign manufacturers
  • Licensed U.S. customs brokers
  • Third-party logistics providers

What are the benefits of CTPAT?

CTPAT Partners enjoy a variety of benefits, including taking an active role in working closer with the U.S. Government in its war against terrorism. As they do this, Partners are able to better identify their own security vulnerabilities and take corrective actions to mitigate risks. Some of the benefits of the program include:

  • Reduced number of CBP examinations
  • Front of the line inspections
  • Possible exemption from Stratified Exams
  • Shorter wait times at the border
  • Assignment of a Supply Chain Security Specialist to the company
  • Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at land borders
  • Access to the CTPAT web-based portal system and a library of training materials
  • Possibility of enjoying additional benefits by being recognized as a trusted trade Partner by foreign customs administrations that have signed a mutual-recognition agreement with the U.S.
  • Eligibility for other U.S. Government pilot programs, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s Secure Supply Chain program
  • Business resumption priority following a natural disaster or terrorist attack
  • Importer eligibility to participate in the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA)
  • Priority consideration at CBP’s industry-focused Centers of Excellence and Expertise

With CTPAT, CBP is able to realize increased supply chain visibility and better focus resources on higher-risk shipments and supply chain participants.

In general, there are three steps to CTPAT certification:

  1. The first step is for a company to conduct and fully document a security risk assessment.
  2. The second step is for a company to submit a basic application via the CTPAT Portal system.
  3. The third step is for a company to complete a supply chain security profile which explains how the company is meeting CTPAT’s minimum security criteria.

Upon successful completion of the application and supply chain security profile, CBP reviews the submitted materials. The CBP CTPAT program will then have up to 90 days to certify the company into the program or to reject the application. If certified, the company will be validated within three years of certification.