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How VMS Bolsters C-TPAT Compliance Programs

How VMS Bolsters C-TPAT Compliance Programs Photo

The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) program designed to enhance border security by increasing supply chain security among importer and exporter partners. This is a voluntary program for importers, carriers, customs brokers, and manufacturers. Program partners can enjoy benefits that include less frequent CBP examinations, decreased border wait times, and access to Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at land borders, among other advantages.

C-TPAT Requirements


Joining C-TPAT means agreeing to identify and address security weaknesses and document security processes. Processes related to physical access controls are a crucial element of C-TPAT compliance. Here are details related to processes for employees, visitors, and deliveries:

  • Employees

Organizations must ensure that employees only have access to secure areas when it is necessary for job tasks. A system must be in place to identify employees that have access privileges. Procedures must exist to document the distribution and retrieval of access devices.

  • Visitors

Visitors arriving on site must present photo identification for documentation purposes. All visitors require escorts, and must show temporary identification.

  • Deliveries

Vendors arriving on site must present appropriate identification for documentation purposes.

Other access control processes must also exist. These involve:

  • Identifying, challenging, and addressing individuals in a facility who are not displaying identification or do not have access authorization.
  • Removing identification and access privileges for individuals that have been terminated.

How a Visitor Management System (VMS) Supports C-TPAT Compliance


A VMS can support C-TPAT security compliance by helping to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Visitors must present photo identification, be escorted, and display temporary identification.

A VMS, integrated with an airport-grade scanner, can verify a visitor’s identity by documenting and validating their government-issued photo identificationAlternatively, an iPad scanner can be used to capture a visitor’s identification information. The VMS can be configured to only record identity information that is required for compliance purposes, disregarding the rest. This enables an organization to walk the line between satisfying compliance requirements and maximizing visitor privacy. The system can also be configured to notify an employee when a visitor checks in, ensuring that procedures exist to have each guest escorted by an authorized person.

  • Procedures for issuing and removing identification badges must be documented


With a VMS, visitor badges with identification can be issued for a visitor to display. The removal of these badges can be automated as well. The badges can be designed to expire automatically, displaying a visible marker indicating that it is no longer valid.

  • Processes for identifying and confronting unauthorized persons

The issuance of self-expiring badges, combined with security training related to identifying, challenging and removing individuals without valid identification or escorts, can help to ensure that invalid identification cannot be used after its appropriate period and that people do not gain access to restricted areas by tailgating or piggybacking.

  • Procedures related to terminated personnel

When an individual’s employment with an organization ends, procedures should be in place to ensure that identification and access to all restricted facilities and systems are removed. VMS features include automated watchlists that can be updated immediately. When a terminated employee is added to an internal watchlist, the updated watchlist will help prevent the employee from being able to enter a different facility before the news of their termination is otherwise disseminated.

VMS Reduces the Complexity of C-TPAT Compliance

There are clear upsides to joining C-TPAT as a partner. However, compliance requires robust processes to document identities and access control procedures. VMS simplifies the complexity related to several C-TPAT requirements so that an organization can focus on serving its international partners without concern.