Border Security Terms and Definitions

ATS: Advanced Targeting System
The U.S. Customs Advanced Targeting System (ATS) screens high-risk shipments while expediting legitimate shipment movement.

C-TPAT: Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
A voluntary initiative, C-TPAT is a joint U.S. government-business partnership to enhance supply-chain and border security. Read more.

C-TPAT Supply Chain Security Specialist: The principal advisor and primary point of contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) assigns for certified members in the C-TPAT program. The specialist and CBP provide guidance and assistance in developing and implementing a C-TPAT self-policing tool, perform the validation and periodic assessments and conduct internal anti-terrorism/anti-smuggling training and awareness programs.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA): In December 2003, the Canadian Government announced the creation of the CBSA, which is part of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canadian Food Inspecton Agency (CFIA) are consolidated into this new agency.

CBP: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
CBP is part of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. What makes up CBP? Customs, Immigration and Naturalization, Agriculture Plant Health and Border Patrol comprise CBP (effective March 1, 2003). Read more at

CSA: Customs Self Assessment
Canada Customs introduced the CSA as part of the Canada Customs Revenue Agency (CCRA) blueprint to streamline processes for low-risk shipments moving into Canada. Read more.

COAC: Departmental Advisory on Commercial Operations of the CBP.  This committee advises the secretaries of the Treasury and Homeland Security departments on the Commercial Operations of CBP and related Homeland Security-related functions. The committee consists of 20 members and the Co-Chairs. The members are selected by the secretaries of the Treasury and Homeland Security jointly from representatives of the trade or transportation community served by CBP and related DHS and Treasury functions, the general public or others who are directly affected by customs commercial operations.

Color-Coded Alert Status:
The Department of Homeland Security announced the color-coded alert status in March 2002. The alert rates the threat level of a terrorist attack on a five-level, color-coded scale. Green is a "low" threat, blue is "guarded," yellow is "elevated," orange is "high" and red is "severe."

CSI: Container Security Initiative
The program began January 2002 to help protect the United States and a large part of the global trading system from terrorists who might use ocean-bound containerized movement of goods to hide weapons of mass destruction and related materials without disrupting legitimate flow of cargo. There are 58 CSI ports. The CSI requires that bilateral agreements be created with other governments to target and pre-screen high-risk containers in overseas seaports before they are shipped to the United States. Customs inspectors (pre-screeners) are also be stationed in CSI ports, to work with their overseas counterparts.

Customs Anti-Terrorism Technologies
These U.S. Customs-developed technologies focus on security and protecting our U.S. borders and are designed to combat terrorist threats.

DHS: Department of Homeland Security
President Bush signed the legislation to create this department on Monday, Nov. 25, 2002. The government reorganized 22 agencies under one department. CBP is one of the 22 agencies.

FAST: United States, Canada and Mexico Free and Secure Trade is a clearance process for low-risk shipments
FAST is a harmonized clearance process for shipments of known, compliant importers. FAST is for shipments destined to the United States (from Canada or Mexico) using highway mode of transport. For trucks from Mexico to use FAST processing, the Mexican manufacturer must be C-TPAT approved, the U.S. importer of record must be C-TPAT approved, the highway carrier must be FAST/C-TPAT certified, and the commercial driver must possess a valid FAST Commercial License The cargo release methods for FAST shipments are the National Customs Automated Prototype (NCAP) or the Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS).

ICE: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
ICE comprises the investigative and enforcement duties of U.S. Customs, Immigration and Naturalization and the Federal Protective Service. It focuses entirely on criminal investigations and enforcement of immigration and customs laws as they relate to foreign nationals and the entry of goods.

ISA: Importer Self Assessment
The Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA) is a voluntary partnership between the CBP and importers who have made an investment in trade compliance. The program allows those importers to assume the responsibilities of self-assessment with minimal CBP intrusion.

MOU: Memorandum of Understanding

NCAP: National Customs Automation Program is an automated electronic system for processing U.S. commercial imports. The NCAP test for automated truck manifests (e-Manifest) will be part of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) when mandated.

NVOCC: Non Vessel Common Carrier
A common carrier that does not operate the vessels by which the ocean transportation is provided, and is a shipper in its relationship with an ocean common carrier.

OSA: Operation Safe Commerce
This U.S. program is to identify and fund business-driven initiatives designed to enhance security for the movement of shipments through the supply chain. Read more.

PAPS: Pre-Arrival Processing System
A U.S. Customs Automated Commercial System (ACS) border cargo release mechanism that uses bar-code technology to expedite the release of commercial shipments while processing each shipment through Border Cargo Selectivity (BCS) and the Automated Targeting System (ATS).

PIP: Partners in Protection
A voluntary initiative, PIP is a joint Canadian government-business partnership to enhance border security, combat organized crime and terrorism, increase awareness of customs compliance issues and help detect and prevent contraband smuggling. Read more.

Trade Act of 2002: Section 343(a) of the Trade Act of 2002, as amended by Section 108 of the Maritime Port Security Act of 2002. The law requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to promulgate regulations providing for electronic transmission to the Customs Service of information pertaining to goods destined to and from the United States before arrival or departure of such cargo by Oct. 1, 2003. Not later than 15 days before promulgation of regulations, the Secretary will transmit to the Congress a report setting forth the proposed regulations and an analysis of the public comments received on the regulations when they were proposed.

USCS: United States Customs Service
On March 1, 2003, the border inspection functions of the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service and the U.S. Border Patrol, were transferred to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is part of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Read more at

US VISIT: The United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program is an entry/exit control system that was implemented at the 50 largest land border ports of entry in 2004. The program was implemented at all remaining ports of entry in 2005.

24-Hour Advance Manifest Rule: The U.S. CBP issued a final rule, effective Dec. 2, 2002, which amends Customs Regulations (19 CFR Parts 4, 113, and 178) for goods imported by ocean transport to require that carriers present certain manifest information electronically 24 hours before ocean vessel lading at the foreign port overseas. For C-TPAT importers to receive benefits, the customs entry must be filed with CBP at a minimum of 24 hours before the shipment arrives in the U.S..

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