Post 9/11 U.S. Customs initiated numerous anti-terrorism measures in response to the new need to secure imported cargo and the ports. In fact, the agency’s name changed from the U.S. Customs Service under the Treasury Department to eventually becoming U.S. Customs and Border Protection under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. Post 9/11 Customs advises importers to have control over their supply chains including the security and safety of the imported products. Each importer has a “profile” with Customs and the agency does a risk analysis when targeting shipments. Part of that risk analysis is an importer’s compliance with anti-terrorism regulations.

Below is a listing of Customs security initiatives:

  • Container Security Initiative (Jan. 2002) – Customs identifies high risk containers and pre-screens in foreign ports before containers are placed on vessels bound for the U.S.
  • Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (April 2002) – While C-TPAT is a voluntary program, Customs views this program as a partnership between the trade the agency to prevent the transport of terrorist weapons through the supply chain. The program establishes supply chain security criteria.
  • Advance Electronic Cargo Information (“24 Hour Rule,” October 2002) – Every vessel must file the ship’s manifest 24 hours prior to lading.
  • Importer Security Filing (Jan. 2009) – The ISF is mandatory for all importers entering on ocean vessels and requires importers to file 10 required data elements 24 hours prior to a ship’s lading. The ISF is an extension of C-TPAT to further improve Customs ability to identify high-risk shipments.

These security initiatives have increased the responsibility and liability for the importing community and have become an increasingly important component of an importer’s preparation for entry. The post 9/11 lesson is that importers must be in control of the security of their merchandise from production to stuffing to shipping.