Shipping Container Security Seals Guide


Stock Security Seals One tool often used in supply chain security programs is security seals. There are two primary types of shipping container seals indicative and barrier. Indicative seals demonstrate if the item being sealed has been tampered with. They can easily be broken since their function is to demonstrate entry, not deter it. The use of stronger seals, known as barrier seals, is becoming more common. In addition to providing evidence of tampering, these seals can actually deter theft because they are harder to remove. These shipping container seals are typically used on ocean containers, rail cars and long-haul trucks.


Selecting a Shipping Container Seal

Below are criteria for determining the best seal for your application:

  • Determine if an indicative or barrier seal is required.
  • If using a barrier seal, determine what strength level is needed.
  • Make sure that the seal type that you choose fits the device.
  • Choose a seal that has the appropriate level of strength and security.
  • Measure seal cost vs. security risks.
  • Use a manageable locking system considering the tools and resources you have at your disposal.
  • Consider the durability of the seal in relation to its environment.

Using Security Seals Effectively

A shipping container security seal in and of itself is not an effective supply chain theft prevention and product tracking program. It is one component that if used effectively and in conjunction with other security measures, can provide evidence of tampering and even help deter theft. There are additional steps, however, that can be taken to reinforce their effectiveness.

  • Layering devices, using multiple seals, matching labels and tape or applying segregated sealing by separating the seal from the bar code.
  • Using a variety of sizes, styles, colors and alpha-numeric combinations of security seals on a rotating basis can make tampering much more difficult.
  • Logos, custom marking, warning labels or any other type of symbols that quickly and easily identify source and content can help prevent tampering.

Security Seals are Essential If you're in the Dangerous Goods business, you probably use security seals somewhere. Maybe lots of places. But you might not realize how many ways and places DG professionals put seals to work. A closure device that can be opened only once can protect more than you might think. Locks can be re-locked, but a broken seal tells you with certainty that a container or vessel has been opened. Are you missing a key security measure? Read about 11 Places Seals Aren't Just Useful, But Essential.



Security Seals Versus Locks In the Dangerous Goods world locks aren’t always the best choice. When is a seal better than a lock? You might be surprised:

  1. When you need to know if a package or door has been opened.
  2. When it’s a matter of national security.
  3. When your shipment needs to be opened in a hurry.
  4. When you only need to keep something secure for the duration of a shipment.
  5. When your Dangerous Goods will be exposed to extreme environmental conditions.
Read about Dangerous Goods Security - 5 Reasons to Choose a Seal Over a Lock.

How a security seal control program protects your hazardous materials A security seal control program is a system of procedures that documents what’s been secured, when it was secured and with what seal. The program also makes it clear who—in your organization and along the supply chain—is responsible for each step. The ultimate goal of your security seal control program? Knowing with 100% certainty that no shipment or package has been opened by anyone not authorized to open it. Read more on How to Establishing Your Security Seal Control Program.



C-TPAT Compliant Security Seals What is C-TPAT? What are C-TPAT compliant security seals?

C-TPAT stands for Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Founded shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, C-TPAT is a voluntary, collaborative effort between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and commercial shippers to develop comprehensive cargo security programs for imports into the U.S. Read more on How C-TPAT Compliant Security Seals Can Protect Your Hazmat Shipments.



C-TPAT Compliant Security Seals How to protect your pallets and crates from being stolen or tampered with?

Did you know you can protect your pallets and crates easily and inexpensively. The patented Snap-N-Secure™ is the first pallet and crate seal that can be applied without the use of any tool. Simple hand pressure locks the seal in place. Read more on How to Protect Your Pallets and Crates.



C-TPAT Compliant Security Seals Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken a close look at the role of security seals in the Dangerous Goods business. From explaining why seals trump locks in hazmat security, to how seals protect less-than-load shipments, we’ve explained just about everything you need to know about seals. On the lighter side Here’s Our List of Seals That Have Nothing to Do With Dangerous Goods Security.



Security Seal Types and Materials

There are a wide variety of security seals available for containers, closures and devices. Types of seals vary depending on their use, from securing cargo containers to inventory control, and many can be personalized with custom data. Following are various types and materials of security seals and their recommended usages:

Plastic Cargo Seals

Plastic Cargo Security Seals


These cost-efficient plastic seals come in a range styles, colors and imprinting options. Tampering is readily evident. They are more suited to short-term use in applications like door latches, handles, valves and switches.


Steel Cable Seals

Steel Cable Security Seals


These heavy-duty, self-locking steel cable seals must be removed with a bolt cutter and meet C-TPAT guidelines. Ideal for securing rail cars, cargo doors, gates, drums and hazmat shipping containers, they provide long-lasting durability and maximum security for a range of applications.


Steel Bolt Seals

Steel Bolt Security Seals


High-security bolt locks can only be removed with bolt cutters. C-TPAT-compliant bolt seals are primarily used for securing rail cars, cargo doors, lids, drums and containers.


Metal Security Seals

Metal Security Seals


These metal ball-type security seals are specifically engineered to provide your cargo with the highest level of protection, and you with peace of mind. The metal is valued for its low density and its corrosion resistant properties.




C-TPAT Compliant Seals

A Guide to What's Required for C-TPAT Compliant Seals

C-TPAT Compliant Seals The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a collaborative effort between the government and commercial shippers to develop comprehensive cargo security programs for imports into the U.S. This voluntary program to protect global commerce from terrorism is primarily applied to any shipper or carrier transporting goods in intermodal containers and truck trailers.

It's important to be informed about C-TPAT compliant seals. A primary requirement for C-TPAT is the use of high-security seals on shipments entering the U.S. The program specifies that these high-security seals pass the highest strength test of ISO/PAS-17712. The International Standards Organization outlined the physical properties of seal strength. It identified three levels: indicative, security and high security, based on criteria such as impact, shear, bend and tensile strength.

Indicative Seals

All light-duty seals that can be removed by hand or with common household cutters

Security Seals

Intermediate strength seals requiring a strong tool and more effort to open

High Security Seals

Barrier seals that are the strongest and most difficult to cut open. A specialized, industrial-strength tool is needed to cut them open. Testing for this category requires resistance to high levels of pulling, bending and crushing.

The best thing a commercial shipper can do to ensure C-TPAT compliance is to stay informed, develop a detailed supply chain product-tracking program to prevent theft, and ensure your seals are as strong and effective as possible. Tactics to prevent seal tampering and increase security of cargo seals include:

  • Using multiple seals or layered technology
  • Matching labels and tape to enhance visual identification
  • Applying segregated sealing by separating the seal from the bar code
  • Using an RFID tag or other unique identifiers
  • Using colors and alpha-numeric combinations on a rotating basis
  • Using a variety of model, size and style of security seals
  • Applying warning labels for employees on packaging and at point of sealing
  • Adding a unique mark or indicator at time of locking
Shipping Container Seals