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The Customs Service Has Released Its
C-TPAT Validation Process Guidelines

March 6, 2003

Today Customs released its C-TPAT Validation Guidelines. Here are some highlights of the process:

The stated purpose of the validation process is to ensure that C-TPAT participants have implemented the security measures outlined in their Security Profile and in any supplemental information provided to Customs.

A validation is an on-site review of the participant’s C-TPAT supply chain security profile.

U.S. Customs Office of Field Operations personnel and a representative of the C-TPAT participant will conduct the validation process jointly. The validation process will enable Customs and the C-TPAT participant to review the participant’s C-TPAT security profile and ensure that security actions in the profile are being effectively executed.

Throughout the process there will be the opportunity to discuss security issues and to share “best practices” with the ultimate goal of securing the international supply chain. It is understood that the recommendations are not mandatory and are not all-inclusive with respect to effective security practices.

C-TPAT validations are scheduled to last not longer than ten working days.

Validations may be initiated based on import volume, security related anomalies, strategic threat posed by geographic regions, or other risk related information. Alternatively, a validation may be performed as a matter of routine program oversight.

Customs Headquarters will schedule a company’s first validation within approximately three years of the company becoming a C-TPAT certified participant.

Customs field offices will not initiate validations and unannounced validations will not be conducted.

C-TPAT participants will be given thirty days advance written notice along with a request for any supporting documentation that is need.

Validation findings will be documented, included in the team’s final report, and forwarded to the Director of C-TPAT for final editing and sharing with the C-TPAT participant.

Depending on the findings, some or all of the participant’s C-TPAT benefits may be deferred until corrective action is taken to address identified vulnerabilities.

You can download your copy of the C-TPAT Validation guidelines from our web site.

C-TPAT and The New 24 Hour Manifest Rule

Customs has stated in an update to its FAQ’s for the new 24 hour manifest rule that it expects C-TPAT partners to provide the required manifest information as a regular part of their security-related procedures; noting that accurate and timely cargo declarations are critical to the delivery of the cargo release benefits that are part of C-TPAT participation. Customs explained that while C-TPAT participants will not be excluded from the advance reporting requirements, their participation in the program will be taken into account during the targeting process, and that participation C-TPAT participation by the carrier or automated NVOCC will be a mitigating factor for penalties and liquidated damages.


George R. Tuttle, III, 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 2003 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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