This document provides guidelines for Partners in Protection (PIP) members on the use of high-security mechanical seals on containers and trailers for imported, exported and in-transit cargo. This document should be used in conjunction with the Security Profile as it applies to the applicable industry sector, shipment or conveyance.
To be a member of PIP, exporters, importers and carriers must ensure the security and integrity of their cargo by adhering to well-defined targeted security measures. This includes the requirement for seals as outlined in this document, the Security Profile and the World Customs Organization's Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade.
Sealing trailers and containers and ensuring continuous seal integrity throughout the life cycle of a containerized shipment of goods are crucial elements of a secure supply chain and critical parts of a member's commitment to PIP. As such, PIP members must monitor all components of their supply chain and monitor and advise their business partners, to the best of their ability, to verify that high-security seals are being used in accordance with PIP security requirements.
Border Services Officers (BSOs) may verify the integrity of seals upon the arrival of containers in Canada and will verify that sealing procedures are consistent with the PIP program's minimum-security criteria during PIP site validations. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has modified its policies on the use of seals and PIP member loads that are examined by officers will be re-sealed with a high-security seal.
For PIP purposes, high-security mechanical freight container seals are categorized as seals that meet or exceed the current ISO/PAS 17712 standard for freight container mechanical seals. Seals that conform or exceed this standard are manufactured with strong metal materials with the intent to delay intrusion, and the seals generally require removal with bolt or cable cutters.
ISO/PAS 17712 defines the various types of security seals available and describes in detail the general performance requirements for each product type as well as details of testing specifics.
Seals are categorized into the following security levels:
Companies must agree to use seals that meet the "H" (high security) level for PIP purposes.
General basic requirements stipulate that seals must be the following:
The seal manufacturer's logo should also be easily identifiable.
A seal consisting of a metal rod, threaded or unthreaded, flexible or rigid, with a formed head and secured with a separate locking mechanism.
A seal consisting of a cable and a locking mechanism. On a one-piece seal, the locking or seizing mechanism is permanently attached to one end of the cable. A two-piece cable seal has a separate locking mechanism that slips onto the cable or prefabricated cable end.
A reusable lock that can only be opened with a combination code or key.
Terms used if the quantity of freight does not fill a standard truck or container and/or more than one shipper's goods/consignment occupies a single container. Each shipper's cargo is considered to be LTL/LCL. This often applies to companies doing pick up and delivery (P & D) operations, where cargo is added to an existing LTL/LCL load en route.
The point where the container is stuffed; this is usually the manufacturer, shipper or consignor.
Issued by the CBSA to a PIP applicant or member, the Action Plan outlines necessary corrective action and a reasonable time frame for completion in order to comply with PIP minimum-security requirements. If the Action Plan is acted upon accordingly, a PIP applicant can avoid being denied membership or a PIP member can avoid suspension/cancellation of his or her membership.
There are many types of seals on the market that meet or exceed the ISO/PAS 17712 standard and many seal manufacturers. PIP members are responsible for acquiring seals from legitimate manufacturers. Companies purchasing seals to meet PIP commitments should acquire the seal manufacturer's test report issued by an independent ISO17025-certified testing laboratory. Members should maintain this documentation for future reference.
The CBSA does not endorse any particular seal manufacturer or product. There are organizations, however, such as the International Seal Manufacturers Association that can provide guidance to PIP members who are searching for seal manufacturers offering ISO/PAS 17712 high-security seals.
Cargo integrity begins at the point of origin. It is the fundamental responsibility of the shipper/consignor to ensure the safe and secure stuffing and sealing of the container or trailer and to provide an accurate and complete description of the cargo. Each party in possession of the container or trailer has security responsibilities while cargo is entrusted to them, whether the cargo is at rest, at a node or moving between nodes.
Under many circumstances, PIP members have no direct control or responsibility of the cargo before taking possession. While the CBSA recognizes the complexity of international supply chains and endorses the application and implementation of security measures based on risk analysis, PIP members must work with their business partners to ensure that pertinent security measures, including the proper use of seals, are in place and adhered to throughout their supply chain, from point of origin to final destination. This includes domestic and foreign suppliers, manufacturers, cargo handling and storage facilities, conveyances, warehouses or other elements.
Members should be certain to document the requirements they have requested of their business partners with respect to the application and verification of high-security seals.
PIP members must ensure that a high-security seal is affixed to all their containers crossing the border into Canada. Some types of commercial loads/conveyances may not be suitable for high-security seals or padlocks (e.g. tank trailers, bulk or open top loads, dump trailers, tractors, open/van trailers, step decks, flatbeds, livestock trailers and other types of open trailers or oversize loads where a seal will not detect access). In these situations, PIP members must demonstrate that they use other effective methods to ensure the integrity of their cargo while it is in transit. For example, access to the cargo could be detected by using tamper-evident tape or by undertaking more frequent or thorough inspections.
Members must ensure that seals are appropriately applied to the container/conveyance in their custody to help prevent and detect any unauthorized access and maintain the integrity of the shipping container or trailer.
The point of origin/exporter is responsible for sealing the container or trailer until such time as the carrier assumes control. The point of origin must also ensure that the seal number is documented on the manifest, thereby providing a method of verifying legitimate seals. Changes in custody or possession do not reduce the fundamental responsibility of the point of origin to ensure the safe and secure stuffing and sealing of the container or trailer.
A highway carrier picking up a load must check the documentation (manifests, bills of lading, etc.), inspect the condition of the seal, verify the seal number against what is recorded and document the inspection. If the carrier takes possession of a container or trailer that has not been sealed, the onus shifts to the PIP carrier to seal the container or trailer and to record the seal number on the bill of lading/manifest.
Highway carriers must immediately notify their dispatcher if a seal is broken and indicate by whom and the number of the second seal that is placed on the container or trailer. Empty trailers do not require a high-security seal to cross the border into Canada.
A rail carrier picking up a load must check the documentation (manifests, bills of lading, etc.). Rail carriers should have procedures in place to guard against the loading of contraband while trains are in transit to the border into Canada, including unforeseen train stops. They must maintain inventory information and movement records on each rail car and use the physical rail car tracking technology that is inherent to the North American rail network system.
To the extent practical, a high-security seal should be affixed to all loaded rail cars and intermodal maritime containers moving by rail and destined for Canada. Rail cars crossing the border into Canada must also fully comply with seal verification rules and seal anomaly reporting requirements.
Marine carriers or their agents (i.e. terminal operators) must inspect seals and document their condition before the container is loaded onto their vessel. If the carrier takes possession of a container that has not been sealed, the onus shifts to the carrier to seal the container and record the seal number on the bill of lading/manifest.
All containers bound for Canada, even if empty, must be visually inspected and sealed.
Where an air carrier does not control a specific element of the cargo transportation service it has contracted a business to provide (such as an airport terminal, the direct handling of cargo containers or a unit load device, or processes subject to these seals criteria), the air carrier must work with these business partners to ensure that pertinent security measures are in place and adhered to. The air carrier is responsible for exercising prudent oversight for all cargo loaded on board its aircraft, pursuant to applicable laws and regulations.
The consignee or de-consolidator must inspect the seal before removing it and note any discrepancies between the seal and the information listed on the documentation. Any anomalies where illegal activity is suspected must be reported to the CBSA or appropriate authority.
Customs brokers must convey to their importers, whether the importers are PIP members or not, the criticality of having security procedures in place at the point of stuffing/origin to inspect, properly seal and maintain the integrity of the shipping containers and trailers. An inspection process that meets PIP security criteria should be recommended for empty containers and trailers prior to loading the cargo.
High-security padlocks or similar appropriate locking devices can be used instead of high-security seals when there are multiple stops to pick up or deliver local freight. PIP members must implement strict controls to limit the access to keys or combinations that can open these padlocks.
However, containers and trailers crossing the border into Canada must be secured with a high-security seal.
If a consolidation hub is used, the seal number(s) may be recorded on the consolidated lead sheet instead of on the individual bills of lading.
Seal numbers should be listed on the documents presented at the first point of arrival.
All PIP members that affix or remove seals must have written procedures in place that stipulate how seals in their possession are to be controlled, issued, affixed, tracked, removed and destroyed.
PIP members must safeguard the use of seals and maintain a record of seal numbers they have issued and used. A responsible employee should strictly control access to seals. Seals should be stored in a secure location (e.g. locked cabinet, safe) until such time as their use is warranted. Records and removed seals should be kept for an acceptable period of time in case of an audit or investigation.
Seals are to be affixed by a responsible, designated representative. The representative should receive appropriate instruction and training on the proper use and application of high-security seals. The seal should be applied to the container in a manner that prevents surreptitious tampering of the traditional container door handle seal location. Among the acceptable ways to do this are using alternative seal locations that prevent the swiveling of an outer door locking cam or using equivalent tamper-evident measures, such as high-security cable seals across the door-locking bars.
Seals on cargo-laden containers or trailers should be inspected by the receiving party at each change of custody. Inspecting a seal requires visually checking for signs of tampering, comparing the seal's identification number with the cargo documentation and noting the inspection in the appropriate documentation.
Written procedures must be established to record any change in seals and to stipulate how discrepancies are noted and reported.
If the seal is missing or shows signs of tampering, or has a different identification number than the cargo documentation, the receiving party (or the party in possession) must report the discrepancy as specified in the Security Profile and must note the discrepancy on the cargo documentation.
Any anomalies or suspected illegal activity should be reported immediately to a border services officer at the point of entry into Canada or to another appropriate law enforcement agency. PIP members can also contact their regional representative (intelligence officer) or call the CBSA toll-free Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060. PIP members should identify and notify the appropriate foreign authority for incidents occurring outside Canada.
If a seal is removed in-transit to the border, even by government officials, it is the responsibility of the carrier to replace the seal and document the particulars, including the new seal number, on all pertinent cargo documentation. The carrier will not be required to re-seal loads examined by the CBSA if a border services officer has applied a CBSA-supplied, high-security seal after an examination.
At the time of the site validation, Canada Border Services Agency officers will confirm that the seal policies and procedures described in the Security Profile are in place and are adequate. Officers may ask to see the following:
Where an applicant's policies and practices with respect to seals appear to be insufficient, Canada Borders Services Agency officers will decide whether to recommend the company for approval dependant on its completion of an Action Plan or to deny the company membership status.
When the CBSA becomes aware that a PIP member is not maintaining his or her responsibility to seal loads, Canada Borders Services Agency officers will investigate to determine if the failure is widespread, isolated or was not the fault of the member, and they will consider any action taken by the member to mitigate the situation.
It is up to the officer(s) to determine, based on the circumstances and his or her knowledge of the member, whether the company needs only a reminder of their seal responsibilities or an Action Plan outlining the steps to be undertaken to address the identified shortcomings, or if a recommendation for suspension or cancellation of membership is warranted.
If the Action Plan is not addressed, the company will be suspended from the program until the seal criteria are determined to be satisfactorily met or its membership may be cancelled.
Members can appeal their suspension or cancellation from the PIP program.
For more information or to submit questions on seal guidelines, e-mail the PIP program.