Cargo Security

Following the tragic events of 9/11, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that was formed in response to those events, together with other agencies in DHS, became responsible for ensuring that goods being imported into the U.S. had been secured from terrorist threats. A number of different legal requirements have been instituted, most recently the requirement that importers file an Importer Security Filing (ISF) with each entry of containerized cargo. The US has also worked with numerous port authorities around the world to enhance the security measures taken overseas before cargo whose final destination is the US is laden on a vessel. Air cargo is also subject to enhanced security requirements, including cargo handled by express couriers.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism

However, the program that has probably had the greatest impact on importers and foreign suppliers is the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), which CBP first rolled out in 2002. While this, nominally, is still considered a "voluntary" program,  market conditions, such as the requirement that C-TPAT members only deal with business partners who are either C-TPAT members or can certify that they meet C-TPAT minimum security standards, suggests that it is, for practical purposes, a requirement for all importers. Security reviews have also been made a standard part of a Customs audit for those companies who are not members of C-TPAT. 

C-TPAT Application

 The procedure for joining the C-TPAT program, and the conditions for maintain membership in the program are found on the CBP website. Briefly, the applicant, which may be an importer, broker, other party in the supply chain such as a carrier or consolidator, as well as certain foreign suppliers, must respond to the questions on the CBP website which address the security profile of the applicant. A Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSS) will review the responses and if all are acceptable, will inform the applicant that they have been accepted as a member of the program. In the case of an importer the application will ask questions about the security measures that are in place at all of the locations which handle cargo destined to the U.S. such as factories, consolidators, warehouses, etc. They questions are quite specific, such as what type of physical security is present at the plant, is there a perimeter fence, what type of access controls are in place for visitors and employees, how is inventory guarded, what procedure is followed to load and seal containers, what type of security training and awareness programs are in place, what type of IT security is in place and similar questions that are all designed to allow CBP to acertain whether the facilities met so-called “minimum security requirements.” After an importer is accepted into the program, CBP will schedule a validation, i.e.., a visit to a foreign facility. If the security procedures at the facility are found to be acceptable the importer will become a certified member and be giving a rating of Tier II (meets minimum security standards) or Tier III (exceeds minimum security standards), or will fail the validation and be given an opportunity to address the changes that have been identified or be suspended from the program. Every member has to be re-validated every three of four years, depending on their status in the program.

BRC has assisted many importers in helping them prepare for the application process, assisting in filing the application and preparing companies for a successful validation. Several clients that we have helped have attained Tier III status, a ranking that is achieved by only a few hundred of the ten thousand companies who have joined so far. We have provided guidance on how to evaluate several hundred supply chains that individual companies may have and have provided clients with all the necessary tools needed to remain member in good standing in the program.  



Jan. 27, 2023
UFLPA Region Alert Deployment
Nov. 4, 2022
Make Your Manifest Data Confidential (If You Want)
Mar. 8, 2021
Executive Order on Addressing Supply Chain Security
May 10, 2017
International Trade Commission Institutes Second and Third Parts of Digital Trade Investigation
February 14, 2017
President Trump, Prime Minister Trudeau Meet to Discuss Potential NAFTA Modifications
February 9, 2017
GAO Report; Customs Not Able to Validate Benefits to C-TPAT Participants
December 4, 2014
U.S. and Singapore Sign Mutual Security Programs
October 15, 2013
First Wave of Export Control Reforms Effective Today
October 01, 2013
Government Shutdown Impacts International Trade Agencies
August 27, 2013
CBP to Require Residue Manifesting and Entry Starting Late November 2013
August 20, 2013
FDA Announces Secure Supply Chain Pilot Program
August 14, 2013
CBP Issues Import Guidelines Regarding Burmese Jadeite/Rubies
June 07, 2013
CBP to Begin Full ISF Enforcement
June 05, 2013
Number of C-TPAT Validations Declining
April 10, 2013
CBP Expands Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) Test
March 4, 2013
Sequestration to Impact Customs and Border Protection
February 11, 2013
U.S. and EU Implement Mutual-Recognition Decision
January 28, 2013
U.S. CBP and Mexico's SAT Sign Joint Work Plan
August 16, 2012
CBP East Coast Trade Symposium Rescheduled for October 29-30
March 20, 2012
Registration Opens for CBP's 2012 West Coast Trade Symposium
March 6, 2012
CBP Announces FY 2012 Trade Enforcement Priorities
October 27, 2011
CBP Launches Permanent Pharma and Electronics CEEs to Facilitate Import Processing
Jun. 6, 2006
Mandatory C-TPAT Portal Up
May 4, 2006
C-TPAT Legislation Update
Apr. 24, 2006
New C-TPAT Portal
Nov. 9, 2005
Customs Launches Secure Border Initiative
Mar. 28, 2005
Customs Hardens C-TPAT
Feb. 22, 2005
New Draft C-TPAT Standards
Jan. 24, 2005
Customs to Hold Miami Cargo Seminar
May 6, 2004
New C-TPAT Verification System
Apr. 26, 2004
U.S. and EU in Cargo Security Agreement