If you are a US  importer I am sure you have seen or heard about C-TPAT. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) created and launched this program on April 16, 2002 to reduce the risk or possibility of any terrorist attacks and reduce the potential of acts of terrorism.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is the program created by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in response to the terrorist threats that have occurred against the United States in the past decade.

With C-TPAT, businesses have an opportunity to be an active participant in the war against terrorism. There are more than 10,000 companies participating in C-TPAT and many more  are in the process of joining. Not only importers but also customs brokers, manufactures, Third Party Logistics providers, port authorities, terminal operators, air sea rail carriers NVOCC’s are eligible to participate in C-TPAT.

To become a member of C-TPAT takes a real commitment of time and resources from a company. As a return the participating companies also get direct and indirect benefits from becoming a member of C-TPAT other then being active in the movement against terrorism. What CBP expects from C-TPAT members is to make a commitment towards the common goal of creating a more secure and efficient supply chain through this partnership.

If you are the importer, a CTPAT membership may help you with the following:

Less US Customs Inspections:

C-TPAT participation will lead to a minimal number of inspections or even no inspections and audits.  When you are importing products to the US, CBP will look into your shipment’s risk value by evaluating the origin of the cargo, your supplier, the commodity type and some other necessary information on that shipment. During this evaluation CBP will verify if you have a C-TPAT certificate or not. And having a C-TPAT certificate will help reduce your company’s risk values. If your companies risk values’ has lower points the chances of getting exams will be less, because as a C-TPAT participant you will be placed in a preferred category. According to CBP the odds of a C-TPAT members’ shipments being selected for exams or inspections for security related issues is 6 times less compared to non C-TPAT members.

Shorter Inspection Time:

If shipments are selected for an exam or inspection the process will be faster if you are a C-TPAT member. Your containers exam could be done before a non C-TPAT member’s tshipments are waiting for examination, regardless of how long they have been there. Your containers may not wait as long as in the line at the terminal for examination and they will be processed faster than non C-TPAT members. If you have a deadline for that shipment held at the exam station or if you work with low inventory, the delay caused by exam may seriously damage your business.

With less exams and shorter inspections times the importers will absolutely benefit from being a C-TPAT member by also avoiding exam fees, demurrage fees. Most importantly your shipments will arrive on time.

Free and Secure Trade (FAST):

Shipments that are entering from Canada and Mexico may be eligible to use the assigned lanes to the US if the importer, manufacturer and carrier are C-TPAT members.

Marketability:

To be a member of C-TPAT is one thing and to maintain it is another. It absolutely will boost your brand quality and improve your company’s reputation. For example if you are working to get ISO Certification or working closely with some government agencies, being a C-TPAT member will work in your favor.

Another benefit is that if you are C-TPAT member company you most likely work with vendors or customers who are also C-TPAT participants or have to meet certain requirements by the US Government. This will allow you to reduce the risk of being a part of unexpected, unwanted actions that may come from a third party such as your vendors.

C-TPAT is a highly recognized application that has been developed and launched by CBP, and many companies are participating to this in the USA and see the mutual benefit. So if you are an importer, why not become C-TPAT certified, as you see the values that it can add to your company?