C-TPAT Compliant Seal
There are many security seal manufacturers who claim that they can offer a C-TPAT “Compliant” security seals.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a C-TPAT Compliant seal as the C-TPAT Board does not issue seal certificates or carry out tests on the seal.
What is C-TPAT?
C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) is a voluntary, joint government-business partnership to help add to supply chain and increase border security. C-TPAT specifies that “A high security seal must be affixed to all loaded containers destined for export from the U.S. All seals must meet or exceed the current ISO 17712 standards for high security seals.”
This specifies that there is no C-TPAT Compliant Seal or any special certificate for individual seals. For a company to commit to C-TPAT they must place a PAS ISO 17712 standard high security seal.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose. ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, and of good quality.
ISO STANDARDS FOR SECURITY SEALS
ISO 17712 is the standardised document that establishes “uniform procedures for the classification, acceptance, and withdrawal of mechanical freight container seals. It provides a single source of information on mechanical seals which are acceptable for securing freight containers in international commerce.”
ISO 17712 defines three types of classes of security seal strength, or barrier capacity: “I” for Indicative; “S” for Security; and “H” for High Security. C-TPAT requires the use of “H” class seals. The seals must also meet several general requirements apart from the clause 5 and clause 6 certifications. Below are a few general requirements:
- The seal shall meet the appropriate physical parameters in this International standard, as certified by an accredited testing facility.
- Seals meeting the relevant criteria shall be marked or stamped to identify their classification as Indicative (“I”), Security (“S”), or High Security (“H”) seals.
- Seals shall be marked and constructed in such a manner that manufacturers shall be able to identify their own products.
The ISO 17712 standard requires independent testing against three main categories:
1.Mechanical Testing to determine a security seals physical strength (Clause 5).
“H” Class Security Seals or High Security Seals are manufactured to the highest standards and are marked with a “H” on the seals body. The most popular high security seals are bolt seals and cable seals.
In May 2014, new requirements were published for ISO 17712:2013, for all high security seals to be compliant, they must be categorized and marked “H” as High Security Seals. When undergoing mechanical testing by an independent ISO 17025 accredited laboratory (Clause 5) and the manufacturer must be certified to both ISO9001 and ISO17712: Annex A.
Furthermore, in order for a seal to obtain a Clause 5 certification, the testing facility must be ISO 17025 accredited with ISO 17712 as specific scope. There are many independent testing organisations which carry out the clause 5 testing. However, if the testing facility isn’t fulfilling the required accreditation, the seal cannot be tested to ISO 17712.
2. Seals be designed and constructed with tamper indicative features that generate tell-tale evidence of tampering (Clause 6).
The new requirement for High Security Seals also states that the security seal must also be compliant with Clause 6: Evidence of Tampering. Clause 6 requires the manufacturer to have a documented and audited process and test specification in place in its quality manual for all High Security Seals in its product range. Clause 6 is a valuable addition to the seal standard emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement of tamper resistance and tamper indicating features on security seals.
An accredited process review organisation is a third-party organisation accredited according to ISO/IEC 17020. This means if the testing facility isn’t accredited by ISO/IEC 17020, it isn’t fulfilling the required accreditation and the seal cannot be tested to ISO 17712.
3. Auditing of manufacturer’s security-related business processes (Annex A)
Poor security-related manufacturing practices can undercut the effectiveness of a high-quality security seal. ISO 17712’s Annex A defines over two dozen required practices, such as facility risk assessments and access controls to production and storage areas. Suppliers’ conformance with Annex A should also be demonstrated through an independent certification provider that is accredited to audit compliance with the ISO standards.
In order to verify that a High Security Seal is certified as ISO 17712:2013, You must contact your security seal supplier and ask them to provide the ISO certificates mentioned below:
- The manufacturer of the seal must be ISO 9001 certified.
- The manufacturer of the seal must be ISO 17712:2013 Annex A (Best Practices) certified.
- The mechanical strength of the seal must meet or exceed the requirements of ISO 17712 Clause 5 High-Security Seal category. This is documented by a ISO 17712:2013 “H” laboratory report/certificate for the seal.
- ISO 17712 Clause 6 certification.
- The test laboratory performing the evidence of tampering tests must be ISO/IEC 17020 accredited with ISO 17712 as specific scope.
- The test laboratory performing the mechanical tests must be ISO 17025 accredited with ISO 17712 as specific scope.
If the security seal manufacturer can provide all the certifications above, the seal will meet the C-TPAT guidelines.
ISO 17712 Certified & C-TPAT “Compliant”