The C-TPAT is a part of the US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) partnership program. It is intended to improve security through all stages of the supply chain right from the manufacturer, supplier, carrier and down to the vendor. Member companies in C-TPAT are known as partners. They are companies that have agreed to put in place recommended security procedures in their supply chains to prevent illegal activity and terrorist infiltration that may threaten the security of the US. Partners that have implemented the recommendations of C-TPAT typically experience faster cargo processing by the CBP. 


The U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a multilayered enforcement system with C-TPAT being just one layer of the integrated framework. Through the C-TPAT program, the CBP collaborates with the business community to improve border security for the United States. The voluntary program is a private-public sector partnership that works on the premise that close cooperation between the principal stakeholders will in the long-term help to offer the best levels of cargo security. These stakeholders include a range of traders in the global supply chain that includes manufacturers, licensed customs brokers, consolidators, carriers, exporters and importers. The C-TPAT program is regulated and founded upon the legal framework provided by the 2006 Security and Accountability for Every Port Act (SAFE). The act provides strict requirements for oversight by the CBP over partners registered in the program.

C-TPAT thus works with the CBP to help facilitate the smooth movements of cargo across international borders while also enhancing security. The C-TPAT systems will typically require that you provide information about your supply chains during the process of application, certification, and validation. Such information will include confidential business information from the partner/applicant, personally identifiable information and sensitive information held by law enforcement agencies about the applicant.

Who Can Be a Partner

Since the program was set up in 2001, it has been growing in the numbers of trading partners that have voluntarily joined. As it stands, there are more than 11,000 certified members in the C-PTAT program across the different subsectors of international trade. Among these are American exporters/importers, Mexican long haul carriers, Canada/U.S highway carriers, Canadian and Mexican manufacturers, Mexico/U.S highway carriers, non-operating common carriers (NVOCC’s) and ocean transportation intermediaries, sea and rail carriers, US freight consolidators, licensed Customs Brokers, US marine port terminal/authority operators. These partners make for more than 52% of all cargo by value that enters the United States.

How the Partnership Program Works

When you partner with C-TPAT, you agree to collaborate with the CBP to implement best practices, ensure the integrity of your supply chain, put in place particular security procedures, and identify security gaps. Applicants need to have security profiles that are in line with recommended security procedures and address a wide variety of security topics that are in line with recommendations for ensuring the integrity of the supply chain. Once you have satisfied all the requirements, you are deemed low risk and hence less likely to be subjected to rigorous examination at American ports of entry.

How to Become a C-TPAT Partner?

You do not pay any application or any other fees to join, and participation in the program is voluntary. The online application process is straight forward and hence you do not need any specialists in trade law or attorney to fill out the application.


This is How it is Done:

  1. Review the Minimum-Security Criteria provided by C-TPAT to determine if you are eligible.
  2. Submit the basic application on the online C-TPAT portal asserting that you are voluntarily agreeing to participate in the C-TPAT program.
  3. Complete your supply chain profile showing processes and security measures put in place. The profile includes how the company meets the minimum-security criteria of the C-TPAT (you need to conduct a risk assessment before filling out the security profile).
  4. Once you have submitted your security profile and satisfactorily completed the application, you will be assigned to a Security Specialist. The specialist reviews the application and provides guidance going forward
  5. The C-PTAT reviews and then either reject or certifies the business entity. (Once accepted, you should expect validation in about a year from the date of certification).

Book a Free Consultation Today

Recent Blogs

Stay Connected

Get Customs City news
delivered to your