CBP announces FAST policy on seals

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Customs has announced its recommended procedures for affixing mechanical seals to cargo loaded trailers for FAST program participants.

CBP stresses that in order to receive full consideration and benefits of FAST, shippers and importers participating in this program are requested to ensure the security and integrity of their cargo by adhering to the more stringent guidelines outlined in this document for the use and control of seals used to secure cargo containers. CBP will conduct periodic reviews to determine the applicability of existing procedures and make recommendations for enhancements, including the addition of electronic devices designed to replace mechanical seals and speed cargo processing.

C-TPAT importers, carriers and manufacturers who wish to qualify for expedited processing and other related benefits under the U.S./Mexico FAST initiative will be required to adhere to procedures, protocols and standards with regards to the use of high security seals as outlined in the recommendations.

For carriers, the responsibilities are as follows: upon receipt of container/trailer, ensure that all seal information is true and correct as reflected on manifests, bills of lading or other documentation related to the movement of cargo.

Establish verifiable security systems for cargo storage and handling facilities, container yards and conveyances operated by the carrier to prevent the improper manipulation and transportation of cargo and /or containers/trailers.

Establish procedures for reporting any discrepancies or anomalies related to seal integrity.
Seals will be of the high security type as per ISO guidelines (ISO/PSA 17712, Freight Containers-Mechanical Seals), adopted May 2003.

All seals that are removed from a cargo container/trailer for legitimate intermediate examinations (customs inspection, conveyance damage surveys, law enforcement activity, etc.) must be placed in the container just inside the doors, in plain view, before a new seal is affixed to the container.

A system must be established for annotating and reporting any changes due to legitimate intermediate examination purposes as described above.

Seals are to be affixed by a responsible, designated representative of the carrier: a responsible, designated representative is defined as an employee who maintains a position of trust (i.e. security personnel) within the business and has received appropriate instruction and training in the proper use and application of high security seals.

Access to seals must be strictly controlled by the responsible party and shall be issued at random in order to avoid seals being affixed in sequential order.
Seals must be stored in a secure location (locked cabinet, safe, etc.) until such a time as their use is warranted.
Access to such secure locations must be restricted to those parties responsible for the inventory and affixing of seals.

A log must be maintained in order to account for all seals under the control of the carrier. (A standardized log is currently under development. In the interim, any entity responsible for the sealing of cargo should use and maintain an accounting system of their own design.)

Establish a system to ensure verification of seal numbers and types and that all pertinent seal information is reflected on all manifests, bills of lading or other documentation (including electronic data transmissions) related to the movement of cargo.

To see the recommendations for affixing mechanical seals in their entirety, visit: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov /import/commercial_enforcement/ctpat/fast/us_mexico/mexico_manuf/manuf_seal_ requirements.xml .

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