From the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

Does your supply chain meet new security standards? The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary partnership between the U.S. and the international business community that protects the global supply chain and speeds commerce. For entrepreneurs, C-TPAT certification means safer trade, faster clearance and emphasis on self-policing.

Since 9/11, C-TPAT's anti-terrorist and cargo-security measures have helped prevent terrorists from infiltrating global trade. More than 9,000 companies are certified, but the rush to sign has caused a tremendous backlog of applicants. There is speculation that the program will eventually become mandatory and that uncertified cargo will be inspected more often.

"The fewer exams, the less it will cost the importer," says Donna Bade, international attorney for Miami-based Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg. For businesses lacking warehouses or full-container imports, Bade says it might be easiest to work with C-TPAT-certified businesses.

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Laurel Delaney runs GlobeTrade.com and LaurelDelaney.com, Chicago-based firms that help small businesses expand internationally.