Answers to the top five questions about why it pays to be C-TPAT Certified:

It’s hard to believe, but September 11th took place nearly a dozen years ago. Osama bin Laden has been eradicated. Al Qaeda has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. And the Transportation Security Administration is beginning to loosen restrictions on banned items on US passenger planes. And yet, when it comes to transporting goods across U.S. borders, security remains extraordinarily tight. Why?

Cross Border SecurityDespite the advances made against terrorism on multiple fronts, today’s corporate supply chains are more vulnerable to security threats than ever before. The list includes everything from drug-related violence, political unrest, corruption and terrorism to the ever-present risks of smuggling and cargo theft. As a result, U.S. Customs stops more importers and exporters and detains and seizes more shipments than ever. Depending on the type of merchandise or the country of origin, some goods may be subject to even more intense scrutiny, whether it’s to avert acts of terrorism or prevent intellectual property theft

So, if you’re doing business with a vendor in China, manufacturing appliances or automobiles in Mexico or manufacturing clothing in Vietnam, how do you ensure that your border crossings are smooth, fast and efficient? Here are answers to the five frequently asked questions:

1. How can I expedite border crossings and minimize the risk of delays and inspections?

One way is to become Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)- certified. Studies show that the border-crossing process is much smoother and you’re far less likely to be examined by U.S. Customs if you’re C-TPAT-certified.

2. What is C-TPAT?

C-TPAT is a voluntary United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiative supported by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The initiative forges voluntary cooperative relationships between the CBP and organizations like importers, carriers, brokers and manufacturers who agree to ensure the integrity of their security practices and communicate their security guidelines to trading and supply chain partners.

The goal of the anti-terror partnership is to protect supply chains, identify security gaps and implement specific measures to strengthen border security and keep the United States safe. The initiative is based on the premise that Customs can better protect the public with the cooperation of supply chain owners.

3. Am I eligible for C-TPAT certification?

Currently, the following types of businesses involved in import/export supply chain cargo handling and movement can participate in the program: importers, U.S./Canada highway carriers, U.S./Mexico highway carriers, rail, sea and air carriers, licensed U.S. customs brokers, warehouse operators and manufacturers, U.S. Marine Port Authority and Terminal operators, Mexican manufacturers, certain invited foreign manufacturers, U.S. Air freight consolidators, ocean transport intermediaries and non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCC).

4. How do I get certified?

If you want to participate in C-TPAT, you have to complete an online electronic application found at www.cbp.gov that includes corporate information, a supply chain security profile, and acknowledgment of an agreement to voluntarily participate. You’ll also have to conduct a comprehensive self-assessment of your supply chain security procedures using C-TPAT security criteria.

5. What if I don’t want to go through the certification process myself? What are my options?

If you don’t want to go through the certification process for your business, you can turn cross-border activities over to a C-TPAT-certified partner. As part of the continuing evolution of the C-TPAT program, a new enrollment category was created in 2008 to certify third parties who demonstrate a commitment to improving supply chain and cargo security.

By working with a certified partner, you’re assured that your goods will be transported safely and securely throughout North America. For example, Ryder supports C-TPAT importers and foreign manufacturers from hundreds of locations across North America and is certified for logistics operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Asia. In addition, Ryder works closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and component agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection to continuously improve border and cargo security.

Could participation in C-TPAT benefit your organization? Is your third-party logistics provider C-TPAT certified? Would you like to find out more?

Download our Corporate Sustainability Report here to find out ways Ryder’s C-TPAT certification is helping our customers.