What Are High Security Seals?
High security seals differ from other security seals in two ways: their tensile strength and the regulations around them. They are by far the strongest—and most regulated—security seal.
First, let’s discuss how strong they are. Security seals are often grouped into three levels of protection: Indicating (weakest), Security, and High Security (strongest). So, a high security bolt seal is just a bolt seal categorized in the “high security” range of protection (very literal, we know). Several types of high security seals exist—including bolt seals, barrier seals, and cable seals—but most of them have a tensile strength of around 2-3,000 pounds; our bolt seals are around the upper end of the typical tensile strength range, with a strength of 3,000 pounds.
For comparison, truck seals and pull tight seals are usually only around 50 pounds of tensile strength, meaning bolt seals are 40-60 times stronger! Unless you have a pair of powerful bolt cutters, chances are you’re not getting past such a strong seal. Keep in mind, though, that some circumstances are better suited to truck seals and pull tight seals (we’ll cover that later).
In addition to their colossal strength, high security seals must maintain compliance with national shipping laws. The US Customs and Border Patrol requires any seals used internationally follow the ISO 17712 standard, which has rules regarding their strength, monitoring, and verification procedures. Let’s dive a bit deeper into those rules.
What Is ISO 17712?
A set of standards developed by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), ISO 17712 seal requirements create a checklist that security seals should meet. Anyone who manufactures security seals must meet each metric to be considered “high security.” This checklist states, among other things, high security seals must be:
- Tested for their tensile strength
- Manufactured to have tamper-evident qualities (we’ll discuss what this means later)
- Evaluated by a third party to determine compliance
- Tracked by the manufacturer for audits—usually via serial numbers
ISO 17712 is a voluntary international standard, but many countries around the world modify their shipping regulations to include ISO standards. In the United States, Customs & Border Patrol—specifically, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT)—implements these regulations at a federal level. This means if you want to make, sell, or even use high security seals in the US, you have to follow these regulations. In addition to the regulations around how these seals are made and tested, ISO lays out guidelines for end users on how the seals are applied, monitored, inspected, and disposed of. Regardless of how well-made a seal is, it’s still only as good as its application.
If following ISO regulations sounds scary, don’t worry—the regulations are simple to follow, and if you work with a good company, you’ll have no trouble remaining compliant or properly using the seals you purchase. We at ZipTie.com are no strangers to ISO regulations; we even display our ISO certifications on our site! If you work with us, we can help make sure you understand them and how to properly apply your seals. We also keep meticulous records of our seals (and their unique serial numbers) to make sure they are up to code, so we can help you keep an accurate record of your own.
Now, at this point, we’ve talked a lot about high security seals, and just how secure they are. You might be wondering, “well, if these are so secure, why would you ever use anything else? What good is a truck seal when you have a bolt seal?” Well, in addition to bolt seals being about 10 times more expensive, using them for everything would be a little overkill. Let’s talk about why that’s true by defining what the “weaker” seals are providing. As you will soon find out, stronger seals are not always necessarily better at doing their job, and what weaker seals provide carries just as much significance.