Export and Import Expertise

1324 E 2nd St.
Muscatine, IA, 52761, USA
2765 Boulevard du mono 06 BP: 62048
Lome, Togo, Africa
+228 90 155 155

Mon – Sat: 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism

Jun 30, 2022International Trade Logistics

What is CTPAT?

The Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (CTPAT) is a program that was established in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The aim of the program is to protect and strengthen foreign trade and US border security. All organizations that are certified by CTPAT must meet specific security requirements. These requirements apply to the various parties involved in the trade community, including manufacturing and distribution facilities, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and carrier partners.

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: Why is it Important to International Trade?

The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) is vital to international trade as it helps strengthen border security and protect the global supply chain by preventing any terrorism threat. The CTPAT, a voluntary public-private sector partnership program, is a minuscule part of the US Customs Border Protection (CBP), both aiming to make border security more stringent and facilitate the free flow of global trade.

Reduced number of CBP examinations, shorter waiting time at the border, etc., are some benefits that the CTPAT partners enjoy from being part of the initiative.

As a business man, it makes sense to me to participate in CTPAT. Not only does it improve security, but it also helps to expedite the shipping process – and that means saving time and money.

Why was CTPAT Created?

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) was launched in order to not only secure all goods imported into the United States, but also to enhance the business community’s involvement in the country’s fight against terrorism. The CTPAT is a partnership between the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and businesses that helps to identify any lapses in security, safeguard the supply chain, and execute specific safety measures/industry best practices.

Through the CTPAT, businesses can play a key role in helping to prevent terrorist attacks and keep our country safe.

How does CTPAT Work?

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) is a voluntary supply chain security program led by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.

The program asks companies to assess their own security protocols and agree to work with CBP to improve supply chain security. In return, CTPAT-certified companies can enjoy benefits like reduced inspections and expedited processing at U.S. ports of entry.

To become CTPAT-compliant, companies must first identify security risks and vulnerabilities in their supply chain. They then must develop and implement specific security measures/best practices to mitigate those risks.

Finally, they must submit a security profile to CBP outlining the security measures they have put in place. Once approved, companies are required to maintain their security protocols and undergo periodic audits by CBP.

The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary program, but participation can bring significant benefits to certified companies. These include reduced inspections and expedited processing at U.S. ports of entry. CTPAT-certified companies are also considered “low-risk” by CBP, which can lead to faster Customs clearance for shipments.

What are the benefits of CTPAT?

In exchange for meeting certain security standards, CTPAT members enjoy advantages like reduced CBP examinations and expedited border crossings.

CTPAT membership is not just about reducing Customs delays – it’s also about playing an active role in combating terrorism. CTPAT participants are required to conduct a self-assessment of their security procedures and take corrective action to address any vulnerabilities. By working with the CBP to identify potential threats, CTPAT members can help keep our country safe.

There are many benefits to being a CTPAT member, including:

– A reduction in the number of CBP examinations

– Front-of-the-line inspections

– The chance of getting exemption from stratified exams

– Shorter wait times to get goods cleared at the border

– Access to a supply chain security specialist

– Access to Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes at the land borders

– Access to the CTPAT web-based portal system

– Access to a library of training materials

Being a CTPAT member also has international benefits. CTPAT members are considered trusted trade partners by foreign customs administrations that have signed mutual recognition agreements with the United States. This can lead to expedited Customs processing for CTPAT members when shipping goods to other countries.

In addition, CTPAT members are given priority consideration for other popular U.S. government pilot programs, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s Secure Supply Chain program.

Finally, CTPAT members are eligible to participate in the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA), which provides benefits like streamlined Customs clearance and reduced paperwork.

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: Who is Eligible for CTPAT Certification?

There are 12 different types of business entities that are eligible for CTPAT membership, including importers, exporters, carriers, 3PLs, consolidators, and customs brokers.

Mentioned below are the eligibility criteria for importers. To obtain CTPAT membership, they must:

– Be an active US importer or non-resident Canadian importer who has imported goods into the US within the past 12 months

– Have an active US Importer of Record (IOR) number

– Have a valid continuous import bond registered with the CBP

– Have an operational business office in the US or Canada

– Designate a primary cargo security officer who will ensure compliance with the various aspects of CTPAT

– Commit to maintaining the CTPAT supply chain security criteria as stated in the CTPAT Importer Agreement

– Complete the supply chain security profile in the CTPAT portal. This involves identifying its development, maintenance, and enhancement of the internal policy to comply with the CTPAT importer security criteria

– Owes no unpaid debt to the CBP at the time of the application for which a final judgment or administrative disposition has been rendered

Eligible importers who meet all the criteria listed above can apply for CTPAT membership through the CTPAT portal. Once an application is approved, the importer will be required to sign a CTPAT Importer Agreement, which outlines the commitment to maintain supply chain security and comply with CTPAT security criteria.

Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: New and Strengthened Criteria for Global Supply Chain Security

In May 2019, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) updated the Minimum Security Criteria (MSC) with new and strengthened criteria to address the existing global supply chain environment’s needs and threats. The CBP has categorized the new standards for the importers into three main components: corporate security, people and physical security, and transportation security.

There are 12 criteria categories that are applied across the supply chain within these focus areas. These include many new requirements and recommendations for the following areas: cybersecurity, the protection against agricultural contaminants and pests, the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing, and the expansion of security technology to strengthen existing physical security requirements. The CBP also strengthened other requirements, including those related to business partner security and the security of cargo containers.

How do organizations become CTPAT-certified?

Organizations that are interested in becoming CTPAT-certified must follow a three-step process: conducting a comprehensive risk assessment, submitting an application through the CTPAT online portal, and filling out a supply chain security profile. Once these steps are completed, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will review the information and determine whether the organization meets the CTPAT minimum security criteria.

How long does it take to become CTPAT-certified?

The application process is done entirely online. After you submit your completed application, a detailed evaluation of your company’s profile will be conducted within 30-60 days. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can either accept your company into the program or reject its application within 90 days of applying.

There is no guarantee of acceptance into the CTPAT program, but if you are selected, you’ll be able to take advantage of faster shipping times and other valuable benefits. So if you’re looking to improve your company’s security and efficiency, CTPAT certification is definitely worth pursuing.

What are the barriers to CTPAT Certification?

In order to become CTPAT certified, businesses must meet a number of requirements set forth by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Some companies may find the time and effort required to obtain CTPAT certification to be not worth it, as they may have few current border inspections. Also, smaller shippers who ship Less than Truckload (LTL) and Less than Container Load (LCL) cannot benefit from the expedited processing that CTPAT certification provides. This only applies to loads that are 100% CTPAT cargo. Even companies that are already regulated by other government agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), will not benefit from CTPAT certification.

Despite these potential barriers, becoming CTPAT certified can offer significant advantages for companies involved in international shipping. CTPAT certified companies enjoy expedited processing at US Customs, as well as improved security for their shipments. In addition, CTPAT certification can be helpful in establishing business partnerships with other CTPAT certified companies. If your company is involved in international shipping, it may be worth considering CTPAT certification.


CTPAT certification means that your organization has completed the application process and has undergone a comprehensive assessment by CBP, who has verified that your business meets the CTPAT security criteria.

CTPAT Compliance Audit

A CTPAT compliance audit is a way to ensure that all merchandise shipments destined for the US are being handled in accordance with CTPAT requirements. The audit process covers vital items, container security, physical security, information technology, conveyance security, physical access controls, procedural security, and security training and threat awareness.

By ensuring compliance with CTPAT standards, businesses can help protect the US supply chain from terrorism and safeguard the safety of people and goods.

CTPAT Validation

One of the requirements for CTPAT participation is that businesses must undergo a validation process to ensure that their security profiles are accurate. This process can be initiated for several different reasons, such as security-related anomalies, the strategic threat posed by geographic regions, or other risks-related information.

The CBP does not conduct unannounced validations. Participants are given approximately 30 days advance written notice, and they are provided with a list of supporting documents that must be kept ready for the validation process.

Completing a CTPAT validation can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is an important part of ensuring the security of the supply chain. businesses that are interested in participating in the CTPAT program should make sure that they are familiar with the validation process and that they have all the necessary documentation on hand.

CTPAT validation vs CBP audit

CTPAT is a Customs-approved voluntary supply chain security program that establishes security guidelines and best practices for participants. In order to become CTPAT-certified, businesses must undergo a rigorous self-assessment and review process. Once certified, they are subject to periodic validations by Customs to ensure that they are continuing to meet the program’s high standards.

CBP audits, on the other hand, are mandatory for all businesses that import goods into the United States. These audits are conducted to ensure that businesses are complying with all applicable laws and regulations, including those relating to Customs valuation, classification, and origin determination.

So there you have it: CTPAT is a voluntary program that provides benefits beyond compliance, while CBP audits are mandatory for all businesses importing into the United States.


Latest News


1324 E 2nd St, Muscatine, IA 52761

(563) 277-8002

Looking for an export or import solution?

We can help!

Partnership Opportunities

Collobrate with us as a Operational Partner, Leadership Partner or Financial Partner

We are proud to work with corporations, foundations, governments and the media from around the world to support our work.  Partners help deepen our impact and expand the breadth of our work.  We help our customers to build new businesses and find solutions to global challenges through trade.  Partnering with us allows you to create sustainable business opportunities and get involved in international innovation networks.

Have an Idea?

Reach out today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


1324 E 2nd St, Muscatine, IA 52761

(563) 277-8002

Looking for an export or import solution?

We can help!

Follow by Email


Click one of our representatives below to chat on WhatsApp or send us an email to [email protected]

× Connect on WhatsApp