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How to become a Customs Broker

What is a Customs broker? According to CBP.gov, Customs brokers “are private individuals, partnerships, associations or corporations licensed, regulated and empowered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assist importers and exporters in meeting Federal requirements governing imports and exports.” Brokers submit necessary information and appropriate payments to CBP on behalf of their clients and charge them a fee for this service. Brokers must have expertise in the entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, and the rates of duty and applicable taxes and fees for imported merchandise.

What about Customs brokerages?

Corporations, partnerships, and associations must have a broker license to transact Customs business. Each of these businesses must have at least one individually licensed officer, partner, or associate to qualify the company’s license. Failure to have a qualifying officer or member (of a partnership) for more than 120 days will result in the revocation of the broker license.

Who is eligible to become qualified as a Customs broker? To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen at least 21 years old.
  • Not be a current Federal Government employee.
  • Possess good moral character

Assuming I am eligible, how do I become a Customs broker?

  • First, you must pass the Customs Broker License Examination.
  • Second, you must submit a broker license application with appropriate fees.
  • Third, your application must be approved by CBP.

About the Exam

The Customs broker license exam is administered by CBP normally twice a year, in April and October. Consisting of 80 multiple-choice questions, the test covers topics such as classification, valuation, broker compliance, valuation, trade agreements, the right to make entry, power of attorney, duty drawback, bonds, foreign trade zones, warehouses, fines and penalties, and intellectual property rights. Candidates have four hours to complete the exam, and must score 75% or greater to pass.

While the exam is now administered digitally (through Pearson Vue), candidates must bring their own hard-copy reference materials. These may include the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR), and any other study materials the student may find useful (form templates, notes, etc). No digital reference materials are allowed.

FCBF offers a preparation course for the Customs Broker License Exam. Enrollment for the Fall 2020 course closes July 31.

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