TO : Foreign-Trade Zone Operators

FROM : Executive Director, Trade Programs
Office of Field Operations

SUBJECT: Security in Foreign-Trade Zones

The U.S. Customs Service would like to thank all of the operators of foreign-trade zones (FTZ) for your support in this time of national emergency. In the past you have provided secure storage and handling for a substantial portion of America’s imported and exported merchandise. Your past vigilance has assisted the U.S. Customs Service in providing revenue to the Treasury, helping to monitor consumer safety, protecting American jobs and facilitating trade.

Now we are faced with a much more important task, protecting the lives of Americans. As the U.S. Customs Service is tasked with an ever-increasing share of homeland security duties, we need the help of the FTZ community to be our “eyes and ears”. You are the first stop for a large share of merchandise entering the United States. In this capacity you are uniquely qualified to provide an early warning system for merchandise or customers that may pose a threat to your security as well as the security of your community and the nation. In order to assist you in this increased vigilance, the U.S. Customs Service wishes to provide you with some simple steps that you can follow to improve the security of your facility.

Review your facility’s security systems and procedures. Are the physical security features and monitoring of security sufficient to prevent your facility from being a target? Do locks, fences, or cameras need to be improved or added?

Know who is in your facility at all times. Access should be restricted to persons who have passed through a screening process. All visitors to your facility should have valid picture identification, a legitimate purpose for being there and should be escorted whenever possible. Employees should challenge unknown persons in the bonded area.

Know your employees. New employees should be chosen and screened carefully. Any changes in your work force should be reported to U.S. Customs as soon as possible (within 10 days according to the regulations). Employees who have access to bonded merchandise need to be trustworthy.

Know your merchandise. Merchandise should be what you expect to receive. You should receive the same amount and type of merchandise that is on the shipping bills. If shipments are placed in a zone on a temporary deposit it should be scrutinized for the safety of the merchandise and accuracy of the shipping documents.

Know your Customs Inspectors. Contact Customs if anything doesn’t “seem right”. You know what shipments should look like and what visitors should act like. Feel free to report any suspicions you might have to Customs, as it can make all the difference.

At this time, when the United States is being tested as never before, it is important that all Americans come together to help keep our nation safe and secure. We can all do our part to protect America’s borders from those who wish to harm us. You, the FTZ operators, play an important part in the U.S. Customs Service’s efforts to combat terrorism. Thank you.

If you discover something that you wish to report to Customs you can contact your port director or call 1-800-Be Alert.


Elizabeth G. Durant