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Countdown for Implementation of Phase 3 of New
C-TPAT Importer Security Criteria

August 29, 2005

Existing C-TPAT participating importers have until September 25, 2005 to address the Business Partner Requirements contained in the new security criteria for importers, released by CBP on March 25, 2005. Under the new criteria, C-TPAT participating importers must have:

  1. Written and verifiable processes for the selection of business partners (carriers, ports, terminals, brokers, consolidators, manufacturers, product suppliers, and vendors);

  2. Documentation substantiating that business partners are meeting C-TPAT security criteria throughout their supply chain (or have equivalent supply chain security program criteria administered by a foreign Customs administration).

CBP has announced that it will use validations to assess whether or not importers have adopted the new security criteria. Importers found to be deficient may have benefits suspended, or removed from the program entirely.

Business Partner Section Criteria

A key element of the new security criteria for importers is that they have a written and verifiable process for the selection of business partners, which takes into account specific elements, including consideration of the vendor's:

  1. Physical security & access controls

  2. Personnel and visitor controls

  3. Physical & procedural security related to shipping

  4. Information technology security

  5. Financial soundness

  6. Capability of meeting contractual security requirements

  7. Ability to identify and correct security deficiencies as needed

Written procedures need to take into account, who within the company will collect the data, analyze it, and make recommendations regarding the fitness of the vendor, based on security criteria.

If not already done, existing C-TPAT participating importers should be finalizing their written vendor section procedures that incorporate the security review elements addressed above.

Verification of Business Partner Compliance With C-TPAT security criteria

For those business partners eligible for C-TPAT certification (such as carriers, ports, terminals, brokers, consolidators, etc.) the participating C-TPAT importer must have documentation (e.g., C-TPAT certificate, SVI number, etc.) indicating if these business partners are or are not C-TPAT certified.

For business partners that are not eligible for C-TPAT certification (such as foreign vendors, suppliers and forwarders), importers must require that these business partners demonstrate that they are meeting C-TPAT security criteria via:

  1. Written/electronic confirmation, such as:

    1. Contractual obligations

    2. A letter from a senior business partner officer attesting to compliance;

    3. A written statement from the business partner demonstrating compliance with C-TPAT security criteria

    4. An equivalent WCO accredited security program administered by a foreign customs authority;

  2. Completion of a foreign vendor security questionnaire provided by the importer.

Based upon a documented risk assessment process, non-C-TPAT eligible business partners (i.e., foreign suppliers, vendors and forwarders) must be subject to verification of compliance with C-TPAT security criteria by the importer.

At this time, all existing C-TPAT participating importers should have sent inquiries to all business partners requesting confirmation of C-TPAT certification, or in the case of foreign suppliers or vendors, requesting confirmation that the foreign suppliers are meeting C-TPAT security criteria.

In closing, C-TPAT is a voluntary, risk based, supply chain security program. CBP will work with participating importers who demonstrate a continuing commitment towards strengthening their entire supply chain. If you have questions about the program or how to achieve compliance in meeting your Phase 3 Business Partner Requirements, please contact us.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in this newsletter, please contact George R. Tuttle at (415) 288-0425 or via email at, George R. Tuttle, III at (415) 288-0428 or via email at, or Stephen S. Spraitzar at (415) 288-0427 or via email at

George R. Tuttle, George R. Tuttle, III, and Stephen S. Spraitzar 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 2006 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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