For thirteen years, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program has provided numerous benefits to almost 11,000 importers. CBP recently announced that C-TPAT is being expanded to allow exporters to join the program. Applications will be available soon, so U.S. exporters should take the time now to learn about the program, its benefits, and the requirements for membership.

To participate in the C-TPAT exporter entity, you can find CBP’s list of requirements as well as the minimum security measures here. CBP defines an “exporter” as “a person or company who, as the principal party in interest in the export transaction, has the power and responsibility for determining and controlling the sending of the items out of the United States.” Eligible exporters must have a U.S. office, actively export outside the U.S., a documented export security program, a designated officer or manager to act as a primary contract, an acceptable level of compliance for export reporting for the latest 12-month period, and good standing with U.S. federal agencies. The new expansion applies to “export only” businesses. U.S. entities that export and import are already eligible for C-TPAT.

After joining the C-TPAT Exporter program, you will enjoy numerous benefits. These include:

  • Reduced examination rates and time: C-TPAT exporters will receive trade facilitation, including prioritized examination over non C-TPAT members.
  • Business resumption: In the event of a significant disruption or delay in CBP cargo processing operations, actions are taken to maintain communication and coordination.
  • Front of the line processing: To every extent possible, C-TPAT shipments are moved ahead of any non-C-TPAT shipments.
  • “Mutual recognition” with Canada, the European Union, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Jordan, New Zealand, and most recently, Mexico.
  • Assigned CBP Supply Chain Security specialist who is available to assist with any CBP issue. This means having someone that will always respond to your calls and emails.
  • Often obtaining new business from companies that place a high priority on the quick, high-priority shipment that C-TPAT membership helps facilitate.
  • Eligibility to attend C-TPAT training and seminars such as the annual C-TPAT conference which provides opportunities to network with other C-TPAT members.

CBP will soon begin accepting applications when it completes updates to the C-TPAT web portal. American exporters should update their compliance programs at this time to take advantage of the benefits that come with C-TPAT membership as soon as they are available.

Charles Brazell, Law Clerk