Developments and forthcoming benefits of the Customs-Trade Partnership
Against Terrorism ("C-TPAT") were recently discussed
by a C-TPAT Customs official in a recent teleconference with the
International Law and Practice Section of the American Bar Association.
A Senior Inspector Program Officer of C-TPAT, at U.S. Customs
Headquarters indicated that in 2003, Customs would start delivering
more of the benefits promised from C-TPAT membership. These include,
among others, fewer exams, participation in FAST, training sessions
offered by Customs, the assignment of an account manager, and
the benefits of ACE. The first training seminar has been scheduled
for April 21-24, 2003, in Miami, and is open only to C-TPAT
A frequently asked question involved the process of enrolling. The senior
program official explained that (1) the company signs a Memorandum
Of Understanding ("MOU"). At this point, the company
is considered a C-TPAT "partner" by Customs (which means
that there is a mutual understanding of intent). The company
then (2) completes and submits the C-TPAT
Questionnaire, which describes in executive format the company's
physical plant and personnel security programs, and any security
requirements imposed upon its suppliers. The program official
noted that the goal of Customs is to provide a response within
60 days. Customs then (3) reviews (or "vets") the adequacy
of the company's questionnaire response. According to the program
official, the most common problem with applications results from
inadequate information. If the security procedures outlined by
the company are wholly inadequate, Customs may decline to allow
the company into the program. A company denied access to C-TPAT
is not banned from re-applying, and Customs will continue to work
with the company.
If Customs is satisfied with the adequacy of the company's response,
the company (4) is accepted as a "certified" member
of C-TPAT. However, Customs may choose to make certification
contingent on the implementation of certain security changes.
At an earlier conference, the Director of the C-TPAT
program indicated that one of the most important, and most often
overlooked, aspects in the C-TPAT applications are provisions
for self-policing and record retention. The senior official
explained that such procedures are a requirement of the C-TPAT,
and that each certification letter from Customs will include language
requiring the importer to summarize and to implement such a self-policing
The key aspects of such a self-policing plan are ensuring that security
programs are actually implemented, adequately conveying security
requirements to providers in the supply chain, and maintaining
records of the compliance of such providers.
Finally, the senior official noted that Customs has now (5) initiated
its first verification audits. The purpose of the audits are
to confirm (a) that the information in the questionnaire is accurate,
and (b) that self-policing, communication, and record
retention security initiatives are actually being undertaken.
Customs is currently training ten new C-TPAT specialists at headquarters,
whose function will be to make the validation visits to the importers.
Although the field visits are to involve only C-TPAT and not other
Customs issues, several participants in the call expressed concern
over what appeared to be overreaching on the part of the inspectors
into areas beyond validation of the information in the questionnaire.
Ideas & Efforts
The senior official also noted the following:
Separate from the teleconference call, another Customs official at a
major port has indicated that once a company has become a C-TPAT
member, absent fraud, the company's shipments will no longer be
subject to discretionary examinations. Also, if the C-TPAT member
is subject to a stratified intensive exam, then the exams for
the C-TPAT members will have priority over those of non-C-TPAT
C-TPAT Recruitment Efforts
Importers and brokers should be aware that a number of the Customs ports
have been issuing CF 28's on individual entries, asking questions
on security topics that are identical to those in the C-TPAT questionnaire.
The C-TPAT official speaking in the teleconference call was unaware
of the use of CF 28's by the ports. It has been indicated that
these responses are being used in a survey being conducted relating
to the existing supply chain procedures being followed by companies.
In the San Francisco area, we are aware of many importers who
have received these types of CF 28's with respect to individual
of November 26 2002 we reviewed the responses by importer
to these CF 28's, as well as related information.
The Law Office of George R Tuttle is a law firm that specializes in customs,
tariffs, and international trade law. As part of our practice,
we advise importers, customs brokers and transportation companies
with regard to becoming members of C-TPAT.
If you have any questions on the issues raised in this newsletter or
wish any other information on the process of becoming a C-TPAT
member, please contact Steve Spraitzar at (415) 288-0427 or via
email at email@example.com or George Tuttle at (415)
288 0425 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spraitzar and George Tuttle are attorneys with the Law Offices
of George R. Tuttle in San Francisco. The information in this
article is general in nature and is not intended to constitute
legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with
respect to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered