Sea Carrier Initiative Agreement (SCIA) no longer operational


After a period of uncertainty about the fate of the Sea carrier initiative Agreement (SCIA), United States Customs & Border Protection has now confirmed, that SCIA is no longer operational.

CTPAT replaces SCIA

In a meeting with United States Customs & Border protection (CBP), BIMCO has learned that the Sea Carrier Initiative Agreement (SCIA) is no longer operational. SCIA was created in the 1980’ies by legacy US Customs Service. Following the terrorist attacks on 9-11 2001, SCIA gradually lost importance as the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) became the CBP’s preferred approach towards achieving supply chain security. Consequently, participation in SCIA is no longer applicable, and members are advised to investigate whether they can become participants to CTPAT.

CTPAT comes with many benefits

There is every reason to seek qualification for CTPAT membership, as CTPAT Partners enjoy a variety of benefits. These include:

  • Reduced number of CBP examinations.
  • Front of the line inspections.
  • Possible exemption from Stratified Exams.
  • Shorter wait times at the border.
  • Assignment of a Supply Chain Security Specialist to the company.
  • Access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lanes at the land borders.
  • Access to the CTPAT web-based Portal system and a library of training materials.
  • Possibility of enjoying additional benefits by being recognized as a trusted trade Partner by foreign Customs administrations that have signed Mutual Recognition with the United States.
  • Eligibility for other U.S. Government pilot programs, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s Secure Supply Chain program.
  • Business resumption priority following a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
  • Importer eligibility to participate in the Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA).
  • Priority consideration at CBP’s industry-focused Centers of Excellence and Expertise.

CTPAT is not for all – eligibility criteria apply

Not all companies are eligible for participation in CTPAT, and the one eligibility criteria which stand out the most is the requirement to have a business office in the United States. In view of the many benefits associated with CTPAT certification, companies which do not fully live up to the eligibility criteria listed below should consider to remedy this, for example by establishing a business office in the United States, if this is what it takes. In view of the benefits involved it may well prove to be an investment with a short payback time.

To be eligible for CTPAT certification, a sea carrier must

  • Be an active Sea Carrier that transports shipments internationally (within the last year) into the United States.
  • Have a business office staffed in the United States.
  • Have an active Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (VOCC) Number.
  • Have an active U.S. National Motor Freight Traffic Association issued Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC).
  • Possess a valid continuous international carrier bond registered with CBP.
  • Designate a company officer that will be the primary cargo security officer responsible for CTPAT.
  • Have a company representative at each seaport where the carrier operates for CBP to contact.
  • Sign the “CTPAT-Partner Agreement to Voluntarily Participate” and demonstrate commitment to the obligations outlined in this Agreement. This document is signed by a Company officer when the company applies for CTPAT membership via the CTPAT Portal.
  • Complete a supply chain security profile in the CTPAT Portal, identifying how the company meets and maintains the Program’s MSC for Sea Carriers.
  • Maintain no evidence of financial debt to CBP for which the responsible party has exhausted all administrative and judicial remedies for relief, a final judgment or administrative disposition has been rendered, and the final bill or debt remains unpaid at the time of the initial application or annual renewal.

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria, a sea carrier must also live up to the “Minimum Security Criteria – Sea Carriers”, the latest version of which is dated November 2019 (see attachment).

BIMCO’s focus in future dialogue with CBP

The fact that shipowners without a business office in the United States (typically smaller shipowners) are prevented from enjoying the benefits of CTPAT is a concern to BIMCO. Going forward, BIMCO will advocate that a solution should be developed for companies without a business office in the United States, that rewards an active participation in the combat against drug smuggling. The development of such a program – a “CTPAT light” if you like – will depend on the willingness of CBP to listen and adapt their current concepts, and will also require that extra resources are directed within CBP to fund such new initiatives. While this may prove difficult in the short term, the benefits to the United States’ security situation will hopefully warrant the necessary allocation of CBP funds, but time will tell. The BIMCO Secretariat will report any developments to members as soon as possible.


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    CTPAT Minimum Security Criteria - Sea Carriers (Nov 2019) 0.5 MB

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Jakob Paaske Larsen
in Copenhagen, DK


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