ELD & Hours of Service

C-TPAT & PIP - How-to & Guide

October 5, 2023
October 28, 2023

Need to get a CTPAT license & certification but don’t know where to start? This article will walk you through the steps to get CTPAT certified.

In this article

Freight trucking carriers play a crucial role in the international supply chain, transporting goods efficiently and reliably across borders. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program, administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), significantly impacts freight trucking carriers.

C-TPAT certified freight trucking carriers enjoy the advantage of expedited processing at border crossings. This results in reduced transit times, ultimately enhancing the efficiency of logistics operations. Expedited border crossings not only benefit carriers by reducing fuel and labor costs but also contribute to improved customer satisfaction due to faster delivery times.

What is C-TPAT?

In a globalized world, the safety and security of supply chains are paramount. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a vital initiative that bolsters trade security by collaborating with businesses to implement best practices and procedures that enhance supply chain security. This certification allows for closer cooperation with U.S. Customs by demonstrating safe practices on the part of all participants.

When an entity joins CTPAT, an agreement is made to work with CBP to protect the supply chain, identify security gaps, and implement specific security measures and best practices. Applicants must address a broad range of security topics and present security profiles that list action plans to align security throughout the supply chain. CTPAT members are considered to be of low risk, and are therefore less likely to be examined at a U.S. port of entry.

C-TPAT entities enjoy a variety of benefits, including taking an active role in working closer with the U.S. Government in its war against terrorism. As they do this, entities are able to better identify their own security vulnerabilities and take corrective actions to mitigate risks in importing/exporting goods. Some of the benefits of the program include:

  • A reduced number of CBP (Customs Border Protection) inspections;
  • Access to the list of member companies of the program;
  • The possibility of using the FAST/EXPRESS LANE for shorter wait times at the border;
  • The establishment of a single contact;
  • Eligibility for various customs programs;
  • Recognition of your company by your business partners and increased security within your own company.

Steps to getting your CTPAT certification?

In general, there are three steps to C-TPAT certification.

  1. Risk assessment: The C-TPAT candidate conducts and fully documents a security risk assessment
  2. Application: The company then submits an application via the C-TPAT portal system.
  3. Security profile: The third step is for the company to complete a security profile explaining how they are meeting C-TPAT criteria

Familiarize yourself with the C-TPAT program requirements. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website offers detailed information about eligibility, criteria, and necessary steps to achieve certification. This includes the following:

Assess Your Supply Chain: Conduct a thorough assessment of your supply chain to identify potential vulnerabilities. This involves evaluating your business processes, security policies, and physical security measures.

Develop an Action Plan: Based on your assessment, develop a comprehensive action plan to address the identified vulnerabilities. This plan should outline the specific security measures you intend to implement.

Implement Security Measures: Implement the security measures as outlined in your action plan. This may include enhancing physical security, employee training, and communication protocols.

Documentation and Application Submission: Compile all necessary documentation related to your security measures and submit your application through the C-TPAT portal. Ensure that all required information is accurate and complete.

Validation and Approval: CBP will review your application and may conduct an on-site validation to verify the implementation of the security measures. Once approved, your organization will achieve C-TPAT certification.

What about PIP?

Partners in Protection (PIP) certification is similar to C-TPAT certification, but in Canada. It is designed to “accelerate border processes in Canada and make them more efficient for preapproved, low-risk businesses that are recognized as reliable traders.”

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the United States Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP) have committed to harmonizing the CBSA’s Partners in Protection (PIP) and U.S. CBP’s Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) programs, with a focus on highway carriers. Harmonization aligns the membership requirements of both programs, to the greatest extent possible, for the benefit of applicants, members, and both customs organizations.

Harmonization enables eligible companies to apply to both programs using a single application process, undergo only one site validation, and have a single point of contact to administer their membership in both programs. Based on the location of the company’s corporate headquarters, either PIP or CTPAT will be designated as the host program to administer harmonized membership on behalf of both programs, thereby streamlining the requirements for maintaining membership status.

For information on eligibility requirements and applying for harmonized membership, visit the Trusted Trader Portal help page.

Want help managing your C-TPAT certification?

Our safety & compliance partners can help take care of the whole process for your carrier. Learn More

How does C-TPAT and PIP affect day-to-day trucking?

There are some increased day-to-day requirements that truck drivers must adhere to in order to achieve and maintain C-TPAT compliance. Truck drivers must have a comprehensive understanding of C-TPAT standards and requirements. This involves being familiar with the security protocols, procedures, and best practices outlined by C-TPAT. Regular training and updates on C-TPAT guidelines ensure that drivers stay informed about the evolving security measures and their role in compliance.

Adherence to Secure Loading and Unloading Practices: Truck drivers are responsible for ensuring that cargo is loaded and unloaded in a secure and compliant manner. This includes verifying that seals are properly affixed, confirming the integrity of the cargo, and reporting any discrepancies or concerns promptly. Drivers must also comply with guidelines regarding secure parking and storage of vehicles and cargo.

Vigilant Monitoring and Reporting: C-TPAT compliance necessitates drivers to be vigilant in monitoring their surroundings and reporting any suspicious activities, unauthorized access, or potential security threats. This heightened awareness contributes to the overall security of the supply chain and assists law enforcement in maintaining a safe environment.

Documentation and Record Keeping: Drivers must maintain accurate and up-to-date documentation related to their trips, cargo, and seal inspections. This includes record-keeping of inspections, seal numbers, and any incidents or deviations from standard procedures. Accurate documentation is crucial for demonstrating compliance during inspections and audits.

The integration of these day-to-day requirements not only ensures compliance with C-TPAT standards, but also contributes to a safer and more secure international supply chain.

Switchboard Technology provides drivers with the ability to enter C-TPAT compliant trip inspections which account for secure loading & unloading, including entry of seal #s. If you want to learn more, click here to reach out to us.
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