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CBP publishes new, stricter C-TPAT guidelines (March 28, 2005)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Expect your U.S. C-TPAT approved customers to get tougher in their security demands over the co...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Expect your U.S. C-TPAT approved customers to get tougher in their security demands over the coming months following the release of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) much-anticipated new security criteria.

CBP has maintained C-TPAT as a voluntary program there were concerns in some quarters that it would make it mandatory but it has upgraded the requirements and issued a new set of deadlines for compliance for U.S. importers and their supply chain partners.

"These new minimum security criteria help solidify membership expectations, and more clearly define and establish the baseline level of security measures which must be employed by member importers," CBP stated on its web site.

U.S. importers have been given until May 25 to "harden" their physical supply chains. The stricter rules for the backbone of CBP’s contract with trade to fight terrorism include new requirements for container security, security on premises and access controls.

Then by July 25 U.S. importers must improve their internal supply chain management practices. Those improvements include such items as document processing, information technology security, personnel security and training.

And by Sept. 25 the focus will be on Canadian carriers as importers wanting to remain in C-TPAT, which is a prerequisite for the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) border release program, must show they have put procedures in place to deal with foreign business partners, including proof that vendors are actually meeting the criteria. Until now, although U.S. importers had to speak to their foreign supply chain partners about the security requirements under C-TPAT, they weren’t on the hook for ensuring the rules were being followed.

"Where an importer outsources or contracts elements of their supply chain, such as a foreign facility, conveyance, domestic warehouse, or other elements, the importer must work with these business partners to ensure that pertinent security measures are in place and adhered to throughout their supply chain.

More information about the changes, which during the fall sparked a debate among trade and customs circles about the future direction of C-TPAT, is supposed to be posted Tuesday on CBP’s web site.

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