OEA Certification: Streamlining Cross-Border Transport for Companies Manufacturing in Mexico

By Alejandro Rey | OEA Supervisor
Published 05/12/2022

The Authorized Economic Operators certification (known in Mexico as OEA) is a voluntary program promoted by the World Customs Organization aimed at increasing supply chain visibility and security that streamlines cross-border shipping for US companies manufacturing in Mexico and international companies engaging in cross-country shipping.

The program, which prior to 2016 was known as NEEC (New Scheme of Certified Companies, is Mexico’s equivalent of the C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certification granted by the US Customs and Border Protection. Under a mutual recognition agreement signed by both countries, companies with OEA certification can interact with C-TPAT certified companies as equals.

American Industries has had NEEC certification since 2014 and OEA since 2017, with over 40 registered facilities, including services providers, companies in the aerospace, electronics, and automotive industries, as well as medical devices manufacturers in Mexico, among others.

Working under American Industries’ shelter program facilitates and simplifies the process of applying for OEA certification and allows companies to apply for this certification independently after two years of working under AI’s legal entity as well. AI also has experience in successfully handling OEA audits, with 12 plants audited in 2013 and 1 in 2018.

All companies engaging in cross-border trade are eligible to apply for the certification and must meet a variety of legal and fiscal obligations and prove compliance with 11 minimum security standards. Those minimum standards include providing the documentation and verification for procedures and policies related to:

international companies in Mexico

  1. Planning for security in the supply chain: Companies must develop and implement custom measures to identify, analyze, and mitigate security issues in the supply chain depending on their operations. These must be updated at least once a year and include policies that address supply chain risks, including contraband, money laundering, arms and human trafficking, prohibited merchandise, and acts of terrorism. In addition to continual monitoring, they must also carry out periodic audits performed by authorized personnel and business continuity plans for contingencies such as customs closures, bomb threats, suspicious packages, and electricity outages, among others.
  2. Physical security: Companies must ensure the physical security facilities using measures such as fences, barriers, and other mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access and identify and separate international, high-value, and hazardous cargo.This includes appropriate monitoring and control of parking areas, windows, doors, locks and keys, and appropriate interior and exterior lighting and emergency alarms. Companies must also have emergency communication and alarm systems with backups and CCTV systems.
  3. Access controls: Companies must hire security personnel that follow documented procedures to oversee and monitor access to authorized personnel, visitors and suppliers and ensure the physical security of facilities and merchandise entering and leaving the property.
  4. Business partners: Companies must have written procedures for selecting and maintaining business partners, including an investigation process and references check. Depending on each supplier’s risk analysis, companies must also request additional security measures based on their profile to prove they meet the minimum security standards outlined in OEA certification.
  5. Process safety: Companies must implement and map out merchandise logistics flow and documentation required for each step in their international supply chain to ensure the integrity of goods during transport, handling, customs clearance, and warehousing. This includes identifying transport operators delivering and receiving cargo and designating an individual to supervise and verify loading and unloading and inspect merchandise and paperwork, as well as tracking transport vehicles, including establishing predetermined travel routes, estimated delivery times, and outlining actions to take when there are deviations from these for any reason.
  6. Customs management: Companies must have policies in place documenting the criteria for selecting a customs agent that carries out customs processes according to law with all the proper controls in place for ensuring compliance.
  7. Cargo vehicles, containers, trailers, and semitrailers: Companies must use high-security locks or seals that meet or exceed the ISO 17712 standard for each transport method and have methods in place to oversee the use and tracking of these. They must also include procedures for verifying all transport methods’ physical integrity and identifying any hidden compartments, including an inspection of fuel tanks, tires, batteries, and air filters, among others.
  8. Personnel security: Companies must have policies in place for the hiring, firing, and administration of personnel, including verifying information from their applications and implementing other security measures depending on the risk profile for their position, as well as comply with all labor laws and maintain their social security registrations and other records up to date.
  9. Information security: Companies must have procedures to classify and handle documents according to their importance and sensitivity to deter and prevent their unauthorized use or disclosure. These must also include digital security measures to protect the company from hackers and information extraction.
  10. Safety training: All administrative and operations personnel must receive training on supply chain security policies and handling and reporting security threats. This must also include specialized training depending on employee duties on topics ranging from information security to preventing transactions carried out with illegal funds and awareness programs regarding the consumption of drugs and alcohol.
  11. Incident management and investigation: Companies must have procedures and documentation in place for reporting, investigating, and analyzing supply chain security incidents and corrective actions to prevent recurrence, documents which must be available for authorities to review when necessary.

If you would like to know more about our shelter services and how American Industries can help your company facilitate the process of setting up operations in Mexico reach out today.

Alejandro Rey

OEA Supervisor

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