In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States tightened its border security, leaving shipments waiting days to be cleared. To quicken the process without sacrificing safety, it enacted the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism in November of that year.
What is C-TPAT? C-TPAT ensures supply chains remain secure. Ideally, the providers of raw materials, manufacturers, shippers, loaders and transportation companies all participate in this voluntary joint government-business partnership. C-TPAT compliant companies have protocols in place that avoid contamination, tampering of products, tampering of vehicles, introduction of contraband and other security risks.
The methods are complex: perimeter protection, building security, employee background checks and more are all required to meet C-TPAT qualification. In short, there has to be a surety that the products being shipped are what they claim to be, no more, no less.
How did it start? C-TPAT began with seven large US corporations. Today, more than 10,000 companies participate in the program. As such, more companies are looking to partner with other compliant companies in order to keep the supply chain intact, giving even more incentive to join.
In 2001, Canada already had a similar program in place, called Partners in Prevention, or PIP. Unlike C-TPAT, which was developed to combat terrorism, PIP was intended to deter the smuggling of contraband. The United States adopted some of PIPs ideas for C-TPAT, and Canadian companies who are compliant with PIP are also considered compliant with C-TPAT.
Why should a company participate in the program? There are significant benefits. C-TPAT compliant companies can enter the Fast and Secure Trade, or FAST, lane for processing at the border. These vehicles do not need the level of scrutiny other vehicles do because C-TPAT compliance testifies to the integrity of the shipment. They can continue to their destinations in far less time than other vehicles. That scenario alone should cause companies to seriously consider participating in the program.
Access to the FAST lane will be even more valuable the next time the US goes to a high state of alert. In that scenario, vehicles could easily be held up for multiple days or even longer. Perishable goods will go bad. All manner of deadlines will be missed. C-TPAT compliant vehicles, however, will continue to have much easier access to border crossing.
What are the irritants? Some companies have objected to the partnership over cost. Enacting the necessary changes to how their business operates can be expensive. To offset this limitation, the Canadian federal government offers low interest loans to assist companies becoming compliant.
Nor do companies have to go it alone. GardaWorld can guide you through the process – analyzing current procedures, highlighting gaps between current processes and requirements, suggesting fixes and even generating reports to be submitted to government agencies.
Any Canadian company doing business in the US should consider participation in C-TPAT. Compliance can open up business opportunities, and it ensures your shipments are transported across the border in a timely matter and not hung up at the border. And there’s plenty of assistance to be had by those who need it.
Contact GardaWorld and start the process of becoming compliant today.