Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Your Company Still Thinking About C-TPAT Membership?

Are you one of the importers, brokers or other trade participants who hasn’t signed up for C-TPAT? What are you waiting for? Although participation in C-TPAT requires commitment of time and resources, the initial steps for participation are much easier now than they were for early members. The pioneers of the early C-TPAT programs didn’t have the benefit of the resources that are available now. As a result of hard work by the trade and CBP, companies contemplating C-TPAT membership today have a wealth of resources available to them. So, let’s take a look at some issues that companies consider when looking at participation.

Why Companies Should Participate in C-TPAT

C-TPAT is not mandatory and participation may not be necessary for companies that rarely import and export; however, C-TPAT has numerous benefits and some of the other companies in your supply chain may require that you join in order to do business with them. Other reasons to join include:

· Participation demonstrates good corporate citizenship.
· Participation reduces potential for negative publicity and protects your company’s image.
· Procedures required for participation assist in reducing inventory loss and increases the visibility of the supply chain.
· Membership provides expedited cargo release.
· C-TPAT requires participation by nearly all of the business units within an organization, which promotes increased understanding and cooperation between departments.
· Participants receive reduced numbers of cargo inspections.
· Membership is a prerequisite for account-based processes such as Importer Self-Assessment.

A recent independent study conducted by the University of Virginia on behalf of U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that “95 percent of respondents indicated they are likely to remain in C-TPAT.”

What Will it Cost?

The expenses vary depending on the current procedures in place; however, some of the common areas that require the most investment of time and money include:

· Improvement or implementation of physical security features such as electronic access, cameras, fences and other security procedures,
· Maintenance of the physical security features and security officers, and
· Training and education for staff.

How Can Boskage Help?

Third parties can assist importers, brokers and carriers in creating C-TPAT programs; however, no one can do C-TPAT for you. Boskage provides some excellent tools that will make the process easier and less expensive.

The Corporate C-TPAT Manual for Importers contains over 100 policies and procedures that address each of the security criteria. Although the manual was written for importers, the format and most procedures can be altered to work for brokers.

The manual contains policies, procedures, and a summary for all of the C-TPAT criteria for importers and are arranged in the same order as provided by CBP in the Security Link Portal. Just take the information you compiled from the questionnaire and other sources and create your narrative using our examples. Once you are satisfied the narratives adequately reflect the status of your operations, enter them into the portal.

In addition to the policies and procedures, the manual contains a C-TPAT Project Plan and Organizer to assist you in organizing your C-TPAT process from the time you decide to apply for membership through your first annual review of processes and procedures. The Project Plan outlines processes and provides helpful hints to keep your project moving forward. The Organizer in spreadsheet format will help you to assign projects and keep track of due dates.

Click HERE to view the Table of Contents and a Sample Procedure.

In addition to the procedure manual, Boskage offers an online C-TPAT training course that can be used to explain the entire process to employees and helps satisfy education and awareness requirements. Even if your company has already applied and been accepted as a C-TPAT member this course will help your employees understand the process involved in becoming a member and the responsibility of importers once they obtain membership. C-TPAT is an ongoing process for organizations involved in international trade. If your organization has not applied for C-TPAT membership, this course will provide valuable information on the requirements for membership.

Click HERE to view information about bcpLearning’s C-TPAT Compliance Course.

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