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C-TPAT Membership Can Potentially
Reduce Inspections By Customs

September 10, 2004

The following is an update to recent announcements by U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("Customs" or "CBP"), concerning C-TPAT.

Fewer Exams For C-TPAT Participants

On June 18, 2004, the Departmental Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs ("COAC"), held a quarterly meeting for the purpose of obtaining updates from CBP on various issues. At this meeting, CBP indicated that certified C-TPAT members are 3-5 times less likely to be examined for trade or compliance measurement reasons, and 5-8 times less likely to be examined for enforcement-related reasons. Customs acknowledged, however, that these numbers will vary depending upon the importer and the type of product being imported.

Importing Community Continues To Apply For C-TPAT Membership

The original goal of the DHS was to enlist the top 1,000 importers in C-TPAT. However, this goal has been greatly surpassed, as over 3,800 importers, 1,236 carriers, and more than 1,200 brokers and freight forwarders have applied for C-TPAT membership. Once a company has signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" ("MOU") to participate in C-TPAT, it can advertise itself as being a "C-TPAT participant". After the company has been certified by Customs, it becomes a "C-TPAT member".  

Limitations On C-TPAT Membership

There has been some talk by CBP that it intends to limit C-TPAT membership to only 7,200 importers. If this holds, true, then only a few thousand more companies will be allowed to sign up for the program.  


Following certification, CBP has a process to validate the information provided by the applicant in their profile response to the C-TPAT questionnaire. Under this process, special CBP "validators" visit the premises of the applicant, review the underlying information that supports the applicant's the responses, and may make security related recommendations.  

As of this date, 288 C-TPAT validations have been completed, and over 700 validations are in process. It is CBP's goal to complete 400 C-TPAT validations by the end of FY 2004 (October 2004).

C-TPAT Status Verification Interface

As part of being certified for C-TPAT, members can participate in the C-TPAT Status Verification Interface ("SVI"). The SVI is a CBP Internet-based user interface. The SVI is the point of electronic access to verify the C-TPAT status of another Status Verification Interface Participant (SVIP).

The SVI allows consenting, certified C-TPAT members to query the SVI to obtain information from another consenting certified C-TPAT member. (C-TPAT members who have received certification letters from CBP will recall that a "Consent To Use Company Name" form was attached to the certification letter.)  

The C-TPAT SVI function is accessed via the C-TPAT section of the CBP web site or by going directly to the C-TPAT SVI Access Portal. Access to the C-TPAT SVI is obtained using a user ID and password generated by CBP and issued to the certified C-TPAT Partner who meets the criteria to be Status Verification Interface Participants (SVIP)

There is an SVI "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) posted on the CBP website, which can be accessed through the SVI web page.

Our firm assists importers, brokers, and other parties to apply for, and meet, the ongoing requirements of participating in C-TPAT. If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in this newsletter, please contact Steve Spraitzar at (415) 288-0427 or via email at, or George R. Tuttle, III at (415) 288-0428 or via email at

Stephen Spraitzar and George R. Tuttle, III 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 as such.

Copyright 2005 by Tuttle Law Offices.

All rights reserved. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our offices or by others, we do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and are not responsible for any errors, omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of such information.


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