If you move goods across the U.S. border, you’ve probably heard of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program. C-TPAT was put in place by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The program puts the onus on companies to implement security best practices across the supply chain with the goal of ensuring the safety of goods entering the country. As we mentioned in an earlier article on visitor management and compliance, C-TPAT is like TSA Precheck for containers arriving at the border. Becoming C-TPAT certified is voluntary, and depending on the security practices you already have in place, it could take several months to a couple of years to earn. Is it worth it? From the customers we’ve spoken with, the answer is yes. Read on to discover the benefits of becoming C-TPAT certified.
1. A dedicated supply chain security specialist plus access to educational resources
You’ll have the opportunity to work with a specialist from CBP to identify and resolve any security issues in your supply chain. You’ll also get access to a library of training materials to make sure everyone in your company follows proper security procedures. This will be especially beneficial if you’re required to comply with an industry-specific regulation, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Foreign Supplier Verification Program.
2. Faster transport of goods across the border
The faster you can get your goods across the border, the sooner you can sell them. C-TPAT certification helps you achieve this goal in several ways:
- Shorter wait times at the border
- Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes at the borders with Canada and Mexico
- Fewer CBP inspections, plus the ability to skip ahead of non-C-TPAT certified containers in the inspection line
- The ability to get your cargo released by CBP faster
3. Priority consideration following an emergency
In the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, C-TPAT certified companies are eligible to resume business first.
4. Lower fines
If you make a mistake and find yourself facing a penalty — for example, because of an error in your Import Security Filing — your fine will be up to 50% less than the standard rate.
5. Potential for more business
Many domestic companies will only do business with importers that are C-TPAT certified. This gives you a competitive edge by enhancing your brand image and providing you with an important certification to include on your marketing material.
6. Site, personnel, and data security
In an article published in the Journal of Commerce, Jan Raymond identified several hidden benefits of C-TPAT certification. These include site, personnel, and data security. Here’s what Raymond has to say:
- Site security. Thieves — both external and internal — generally go for the lowest-hanging fruit. By putting C-TPAT compliance practices in place, you make your company an undesirable target. This will lower your losses from theft as well as your insurance premiums.
- Personnel security. The C-TPAT security checks will “deter questionable personnel from applying” and also reduce your likelihood of hiring someone illegally. Both of these things will improve the overall integrity of your workforce.
- Data security. By securing your company’s information systems, you’ll be less likely to have your data stolen by someone who’s up to no good.
7. Improved internal processes
This one also comes from Jan Raymond. He notes that the process improvements required by C-TPAT will make your records more accurate, boost productivity, and improve your quality assurance (QA) process. More business, better security, lower fines — sounds pretty good, right? Begin your compliance journey today by tracking visitors to your facility using a visitor management system. To learn more about C-TPAT certification, visit the CBP website.