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The C-TPAT and FAST programs demand adherence to very specific US Customs seal requirements.

US Customs encourages companies with manufacturing operations Mexico to participate in a number of preferential programs for companies that import and export goods to and from both sides of the US-Mexico border. Participation and certification in these programs enable manufacturers to receive special treatment as regards Customs’ processing and clearing of their merchandise. For instance recognition by the the C-TPAT program, or Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism initiative, benefits companies through a reduction in U.S. Customs inspections. Goods move by “trusted” carriers that are in the program experience less inspection related delays. Additonally, those that have chosen to be active participants in Customs’ FAST, or Free and Secure Trade program, earn the privilege to move their cargo in specially designated, expedited transit lanes. On of the pre-requistes for being approved to participate in both of these programs is that companies shipping goods abide by US Customs seal requirements.

The US Customs seal requirements specify that manufacturers:

  • make certain that all shipping documments, both paper and electronic, as well as permits connected to the shipment of cargo are filled out in the appropriate manner and that accurate seal information is included;
  • must attach seals immediately after loading commercial conveyances, precisely at the point at which the physical loading of goods has taken place;
  • have a system in place that includes procedures for making that cargo is stored in a secure fashion;
  • keep an available log that contains an up-to-date recorded of which seals have been used, and when they were affixed to trailers;
  • when possible, have a process in place to accurately record cargo weights and quantities, as well as seal numbers.

US Customs seal requirements also mandate that:

  • manipulation of, access to and the affixing of seals will be under the sole and complete control of a representative of the manufacturirng company that is shipping the goods;
  • seals will be kept and stored in a secure location that is equipped with theft protection technology;
  • personel charged with the responsibility of storing and handling seals in companies that utilze them by trained in their use and safe keeping, and that only designated personnel access them.

Regarding Customs seal responsibilities carriers include:

  • Defining processes for reporting any seal breach or irregularity.
  • Adopting, implementing and maintaining measures in container yards and other storage facilities that ensure that all cargo is secure and protected from tampering;
  • Verifying that all paperwork, including bills of ladings, manifests, permits and other pertinent documentation is in order when goods are taken into possession.
  • US Customs seals requirements also stipulate that seals “will be of the high security type as per ISO guidelines (ISO/PSA 17712, Freight Containers-Mechanical Seals) adopted May 2003.”

It is of value to make the effort to do what is required to particiate in both the C-TPAT and FAST programs. The implementation and adherence to US customs seal regulations is imperative to maintaining supply chain security. Those companies that take the appropriate measures to achieve this end move things faster. Remember, time is money.