Wednesday, May 9, 2012

C-TPAT: Better Than Ever

Peter Quinter
U.S. Customs and Border Protection's very successful Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program has over 12,000 members in the United States.  Most C-TPAT members are importers and customs brokers, but also terminal operators and air and ocean carriers.  If not getting your cargo examined at the port of entry by CBP or getting "front of line service" by CBP was not enough of an incentive to join C-TPAT, then here is a really good reason for multinational companies doing business in the United States and Europe.

The similar program in the European Union to the United States's C-TPAT is called "Authorized Economic Operator" (AEO).  CBP and the European Union just signed a mutual recognition agreement so the benefits are mutual.  A C-TPAT member in the United States gets the trade priveleges of an AEO in the European Union and vice versa.  The intention of both programs is to secure the international supply chain, and with the Governments' limited resources, allow Customs officials to target non-member shipments arriving at the border which are considered higher risk.

The bottom line is that if a company was considering joining C-TPAT but was on the fence about its advantages versus disadvantages, there is now a big advantage if that same company has import or export cargo operations within the European Union.  Put another way, it is a 2-for-1 deal.

Getting started to be a member of C-TPAT is easy.  The application process for importers, customs brokers, air and ocean carriers is almost identical through the C-TPAT Security Link Portal Online Application.  Yes, there are a lot of requirements, and some paperwork, and there will be a visit to your company by a CBP Security Supply Chain Specialist, plus some ongoing updates to the portal by your customs attorney or other consultant, but in the end, I believe the benefits are worth it.

Peter Quinter
Customs and International Trade Law Group
GrayRobinson, P.A.
mobile phone (954) 270-1864

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