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Status Update On C-TPAT

May 16, 2003

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (Customs) recently held a C-TPAT training session in Miami, Florida, April 21-24, 2003. Present at this training session were many people from Customs Headquarters involved in developing and administrating C-TPAT. Also present were Customs officials in charge of other security programs, such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI), the Automated Targeting System (ATS), the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC). Stephen Spraitzar, an attorney with the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle, attended this training session and provides the following summary of some of the highlights presented at this training session.

1.                Customs' Continued Commitment to C-TPAT

Customs made it clear that C-TPAT will continue in the future and will be an integral part of the homeland security effort. Customs noted the following:

  • Over 3000 applicants have submitted C-TPAT profile responses; 70 of the top 100 importers are involved with C-TPAT.
  • Customs hopes to have two training sessions per year similar to this training session.
  • There will be increased funding for C-TPAT programs and the addition of new positions.
  • Validation of C-TPAT responses will be increased to ensure that the C-TPAT program is meaningful.
  • C-TPAT will be expanded to foreign manufacturers and others in the near future.

2.                Integration With Other Security Programs

At the training session, Customs reviewed the relevance of C-TPAT membership in connection with other programs, including the following:

  • ACE (Automated Commercial Environment): C-TPAT membership is required to participate in ACE, a program to provide an integrated, fully automated information system for the efficient collection, processing and analysis of commercial import and export data. For the participant, the ACE benefits include reduced data entry, reduced paper handling, reduced financial processing, and increased access to data.
  • FAST (Free And Secure Trade): A program to expedite the shipment of cargo between Canada and the U.S., requires participation in C-TPAT.
  • Automated Targeting System (ATS): C-TPAT will be a factor in the ATS system, which is designed to screen for high-risk cargo while expediting the movement of legitimate freight.
  • 24 –hour rule: C-TPAT membership can be a mitigating factor for certain violations in the 24-hour rule.

3.                Upcoming Developments

    1. Validations of C-TPAT Responses

Customs noted the following developments in the C-TPAT program:

    • Development of Customs Validation Teams (CVT). Customs has been training validators whose function is to visit the premises of the C-TPAT applicant and, in some cases, the premises of the applicant's foreign suppliers to validate the responses.
    • 15 in-depth validation reviews have been conducted to date.
    • Customs projects approximately 100 validations by this fall.

    1. New Position of Supply Chain Security Specialist

    • Customs will create a new position called the "Supply Chain Security Specialist", who will be trained in the area of logistics and supply chains.
    • 40 positions are expected to be filled by September 30, 2003.
    • 100 additional positions will be budgeted for FY 04.
    • These specialists will not be account managers and, thus, will not be involved in trade compliance.

    1. Expansion of C-TPAT to Overseas Suppliers
    • Starting this fall, Customs expects to expand the C-TPAT process to allow overseas manufacturers and exporters to apply for C-TPAT membership. This is a very important part of the process because this area is a vulnerable part of the supply chain over which most importers have no control.
    • C-TPAT membership for overseas suppliers will have to be coordinated with the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC), which has been in effect for a number of years in certain countries.

4.                Profile Responses to the C-TPAT Questionnaire

The following comments were provided by Customs at the Miami training session:

  • There is no right or wrong answer in responding to the C-TPAT Profile Questionnaire.
  • There is no standardized format for responding to the C-TPAT Profile Questionnaire.
  • Customs suggested specifics be provided in the responses.
  • An important point for the applicant to indicate in the profile responses is that the applicant has a procedure for the systematic review of security procedures at the applicant's premises.

5.                Summary of C-TPAT Benefits

At the training session, Customs reviewed the following benefits from either applying for or becoming a member of C-TPAT:

  • As a result of responding to the C-TPAT questionnaire, the applicant's supply chain will be more secure.
  • There is to be an expected reduced number of cargo exams and reviews for C-TPAT members.
  • C-TPAT membership will be a factor considered in the Automated Targeting System (ATS) in identifying merchandise subject to examinations.
  • For problems or issues involving an applicant's imported cargo, C-TPAT membership will be a consideration at the field level.
  • C-TPAT membership will be a prerequisite for being eligible for certain Customs programs, such as FAST and ACE.
  • C-TPAT membership will be a mitigating factor in certain liquidated damage and penalty cases.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in this newsletter, please contact Stephen Spraitzar at (415) 288-0427 or via email at, or George R. Tuttle at (415) 288-0425 or via email at

Stephen Spraitzar is an attorney 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 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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