Customs Broker Continuing Education
Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers Final Rule
Licensed Customs brokers play a critical role in protecting revenue and facilitating the movement of compliant cargo. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published the Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers Final Rule (88 FR 41224), which amends CBP regulations to require continuing education for individual customs broker license holders (individual brokers) and creates a framework for administering this requirement. The new regulations will help ensure customs brokers remain up to date on evolving customs rules and related U.S. trade laws. The new regulations will require brokers to have the necessary training needed to facilitate compliant trade in the modern operating environment and will allow brokers to act as an additional layer of security to prevent illegal goods from entering the U.S. commerce.
CBP collaborated with the broker community and the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Council (COAC) for several years to develop the continuing education requirement. CBP incorporated many of the COAC’s recommendations in the Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). CBP took all public comments received in response to the NPRM into consideration during the development of the Continuing Education Final Rule.
While the Final Rule states that brokers must complete 36 continuing education credit hours per triennial status period, CBP will allow brokers to complete fewer than 36 hours to meet the requirement for the initial 2024-2027 triennial status period. Further guidance on how many continuing education credits will be required for the 2024-2027 triennial status period will be published on CBP.gov and in a Federal Register notice.
CBP and U.S. partner government agencies (PGAs) will offer a variety of continuing education credits at no cost to customs brokers. Training and educational opportunities offered by a third-party outside of CBP, or PGAs will require approval by a CBP-selected accreditor. Information on the accreditation process and details on courses offered by CBP and PGAs will be posted on this page as they become available.
Question: I am going to retire in February 2027 to coincide with the triennial period. I do not plan to keep my license active after this point. Do I need to comply with the new requirements?
Yes. As long as your license is in an active status, you will be required to meet the continuing education requirement. This is because it important to keep your knowledge bank fresh during the time that you are transacting customs business. Additionally, plans change, and if you decide you’re not going to retire in 2027 after all, and it is already close to the reporting deadline, you may have difficulty completing all the required hours. If you do not intend to file a triennial report or pay your fee, you should still submit the information that you completed the continuing education. CBP is intending to modify eCBP.gov to capture a scenario such as this one.
Question: I offer training for customs brokers. How do I get my course offerings accredited?
Answer: CBP does not know the exact process for submitting course offering for consideration because the accreditors have not yet been selected. CBP will work with the accreditors as the program is stood up to ensure that instructions for educators and individual licensed brokers are clear and user-friendly. CBP is also going to require that accreditors be able to accept course offerings electronically, which should help facilitate educators’ submissions for consideration.
Question: Can you tell me how to find continuing education courses so that I can get my broker’s license?
Answer: The continuing education requirement will be for individuals who already have a customs broker license. The new requirement does not apply to anyone who is not already a license holder. In order to obtain a license, you can get more information at this CBP website which explains what a customs broker is and how you become one. In general
- You must pass the Customs Broker License Examination.
- You must submit a broker license application with appropriate fees.
- Your application must be approved by CBP.
Question: Will an EU Masters of Customs, Taxation and International Trade Law (MCA) program or other EU customs classes be applicable for credits?
Answer: Courses provided by non-U.S. government agencies will not be approved as continuing education credit. The U.S. individual broker license is based on knowledge of U.S. laws, regulations, and systems. U.S.-based accreditors will not be able to assess the value of programs and courses that do not pertain to U.S. laws and regulations. While CBP does not want to discourage any broker from taking courses and training that are of value, CBP cannot approve non-U.S.-based activities.
Question: Would trade compliance conferences like ICPA be considered for the accreditation?
Answer: CBP cannot say what will be approved or not because CBP is not an accreditor. Once the accreditors have been identified and the approval process for getting activities is in place, associations that hold conferences, such as the International Compliance Professionals Association, should submit their draft agendas to one of the accreditors for full consideration. In general, CBP finds conferences and symposia to be valuable educational and networking opportunities for all trade professionals, whether public or private sector.
Question: Is continuing education required for an inactive license?
Answer: Yes. Unless your license is in voluntary suspension, you will be required to complete the 36 hours of continuing education every three years and report that with your triennial report.
Question: What would be required to suspend a license if an individual is not conducting customs business and chooses not to be subject to the CE requirements?
Answer: Per § 111.52, the Office of Trade Broker Management Branch may accept a broker’s written voluntary offer of suspension of the broker’s license or permit for a specific period of time under any terms and conditions to which the parties may agree.
Question: Will there be opportunities to add additional accreditors if an accreditor is not selected in the initial process?
Answer: CBP has determined that the initial term of being an approved accreditor will be three years. If a party is not selected in the first selection cycle, they can respond to future Requests for Proposals for consideration. CBP has determined three years is an appropriate period of time and allows CBP to ensure that the accreditor selection process does not interfere with the close of a triennial period. CBP may adjust the term in future Requests for Proposals as circumstances and hindsight dictate the best practice.
Question: Will I have to send proof of credit to accreditors or just keep it for CBP/Broker Management Branch auditing purposes?
Answer: You will not have to provide anything to an approved accreditor proving that you completed any educational offering. You must retain the following information and documentation for your continuing education credits:
- The title of the qualifying continuing education attended.
- The date(s) attended.
- The location of the qualifying continuing education (“online” if the activity is web-based).
- Any documentation received from the provider or host of the activity that proves you attended and completed the activity.
(See § 111.102(d)(1))
Note that CBP is not requiring any specific format for this information. A simple spreadsheet or electronic table with accompanying certificates or receipts (paper or electronic) would be considered acceptable, so long as it can be provided to CBP upon request (See § 111.102(d)(2)).
Question: I am a licensed customs broker working for a private company. I cannot obtain credits with the NCBFAA because I am not allowed to join since I don’t work for a broker or forwarder.
Answer: Anyone can participate in courses offered by NCBFAA’s Education Institute (NEI). The course and exam fees do differ between NCBFAA member and non-members. For more information, you can visit the NCBFAA website (https://www.ncbfaa.org/).
You do not have to obtain continuing education credits from any specific organization. The course only needs to be accredited (if offered by the private sector) or offered by CBP or other government agency.
Question: If a broker earns credit for information that becomes obsolete, will the earned credit still be acceptable?
Answer: Any accredited continuing education credit or government-hosted activity designated as good for continuing education that is taken during the triennial period will count, no matter at what point during the period that the credit was earned. CBP notes that the accreditation period for any training of educational activity is 1 year. If the trainer or education provider would like the activity to be valid for longer than 1 year, then they will need to resubmit their materials to one of the approved creditors for consideration and reaccreditation. However, if you took the accredited training in the year it was approved, you do not need to take it again the next year unless you find the activity useful or of value to you. It is the responsibility of the education providers, through accreditation, to keep their materials fresh. It is your responsibility as a broker to obtain the education when it is offered and of value to you.
Question: Will a certain number of credits be required for a specific topic?
Answer: CBP is not requiring that a minimum or specified number of continuing education credits be on any specific topic. These regulations do not require individual brokers to fill the 36 continuing education credits with specific training or educational activities, such as ethics training. Individual brokers are encouraged to seek the training, educational activity, and topics that best suit their needs during each triennial period.
Question: Will training taken in January 2027 count toward the 2027 triennial submission? Can that same training be counted again in the 2030 triennial submission?
Answer: CBP will provide additional guidance on this upcoming situation as the date draws closer. Once you have submitted your triennial status report in eCBP, any course you take after that will count toward the credit for the next triennial period.
Please note: for the 2027 triennial period, only those activities that have occurred after the Federal Register Notice has published with the number of credit hours required will be considered eligible for credit.
No activity will receive credit in two different triennial periods.
Question: I am attending a trade-related conference this fall. Does this count toward my continuing education credit for the new requirements?
Until CBP selects accreditors, CBP cannot say for certain whether conferences or other activities will qualify for continuing education credit. Additionally, CBP will not be making the determination of whether conferences held by the private sector will qualify for continuing education—that is the function of the accreditors.
The continuing education requirement is not yet fully in place. CBP will be soliciting for information, then release a Request for Proposals, then go through a selection process with parties who would like to become accreditors. Once CBP selects the accreditors, we will publish a Federal Register Notice announcing the accreditors. In that Federal Register Notice, CBP will announce how many credit hours will be required between that date and the end of December 2026 (when the triennial reporting period on eCBP.gov opens). Any activities conducted before that Federal Register Notice is published will not be considered eligible for continuing education credit because none of these activities will have been reviewed and approved by an accreditor.
While participating in activities prior to this Federal Register Notice will not count toward the continuing education requirement, CBP does not want to discourage any broker from attending conferences or training that provide value and knowledge to the individuals participating.
Question: What happens if I fall just short of completing the continuing education credit hours in the given triennial reporting period? If I don’t complete the continuing education credits 2027 and my license is suspended, how do I reinstate my license?
Answer: If you do fall short of credit hours, then your license is at risk of being suspended. Unless you take corrective action to make up the credit hours, then CBP will move to suspend your license (See § 111.104(b)(2)). You will be given notice that your license is about to be suspended, and you will then have 30 days to take corrective action (See § 111.104(c)). If you fail to take corrective action during this 30-day window, then your license will be suspended.
If an individual broker license is suspended, you can still take corrective action on or before 120 calendar days from the date of issuance of the order of suspension (See § 111.104(d)). Corrective action can range from certifying completion of the requirement to completing 36 continuing education credits.
In setting this 120-day window (approximately four months), CBP believes that we have provided sufficient time in the most extreme situation for a broker to complete all 36 hours of education and return to good standing. You as an individual broker should be aware that CBP is serious about compliance with the continuing broker education requirement. CBP also wants to ensure minor mistakes and life circumstances can be addressed and mitigated with a limited effect on your license.
Question: Will corporate trade compliance training qualify as continuing education?
Answer: Until CBP selects accreditors, CBP cannot say for certain that trade compliance training offered by a company employing customs brokers will meet the continuing education requirement. Once the continuing education requirement goes into effect and accreditors have been chosen, brokers who work for a corporation should collaborate with each other and the corporation’s management to submit their corporate training materials to one of the selected accreditors for consideration. The criteria for receiving approval and instructions for submitting materials for consideration will be provided by each accreditor as part of their public-facing website. In-house training is, presumably, intended to provide individuals within the company the most relevant information on that company’s processes and best practices, something that is vital to a business’s viability. CBP supports these activities and believes they should be considered by an accreditor for potential continuing education credit.
Question: I have retired but would like to keep up my license. Will I have to meet the continuing education requirement?
Answer: Yes. If you would like to keep your license active even if you are no longer working as a customs broker, you will need to obtain the continuing education credits (36 hours over 3 years) and continue to meet all reporting requirements and payment of applicable fees. Even brokers who are not actively engaged in transacting business as a broker might be leveraging their broker license in other ways—for example, as an employee of a company or as a consultant. A broker can become active at any point after a period of inactivity and then must meet the same levels of professionalism and knowledge as any other broker who has been actively engaged in transacting business. If you expect to not actively engage in transacting business as a broker for an extended period of time, you may want to consider having your license voluntarily suspended (see 19 CFR 111.52) and, thereby, not be subject to the broker continuing education requirement during the period of voluntary suspension.
Question: Will the Certified Customs Certification (CCS) and the Certified Export Specialist (CES) designations/certifications count toward the new continuing education requirement in Part 111?
Answer: Until CBP selects accreditors, CBP cannot say for certain whether the education requirement for a CCS or CES will meet the new continuing education requirement. CBP has not evaluated the specific training materials required to attain these certifications. As of now, there are no qualified trainings or educational activities because CBP has not identified nor have any CBP-selected accreditors approved any such activities. However, CBP envisions future accreditors will likely determine that trainings and activities designated for CCS and CES will qualify as continuing education under § 111.103, given the history of these certificate programs and their reputation in the broker community.
Question: Can an individual broker obtain all the required continuing education credits in one year or do they have to be spread over all three years?
Answer: The 36 continuing education credits can be completed at any time during the triennial period. The new regulations also do not require individual brokers to fill the 36 continuing education credits with specific trainings.
If a broker wants to attend a week-long trade conference sponsored by the U.S. Government, an association, or a private company, that will likely cover, or come close to, covering the 36 hours for that reporting period. If instead a broker wants to obtain their education in smaller units that does not involve travel, hotel stays or time away from their workplace, they could choose shorter, virtual options like webinars and online courses.
The purpose of the regulatory requirements as finalized is to encourage individual brokers to seek the trainings, educational activity, and topics that best suit their needs during each triennial period. During our August 3 webinar, CBP encouraged individual brokers to “take stock” of the activities they already do that would likely qualify for continuing education credit. CBP also wants to encourage brokers to continue to attend the trainings, conferences and webinars involving customs business that provide them knowledge and value.
Question: I am an individually licensed customs broker. What do I need to do for continuing education between now and December 2023 when the next triennial reporting period opens?
Answer: Individual Customs Brokers are not required to complete any continuing education for maintaining their individual customs broker license in the current triennial period (2021-2024). The continuing education requirement will begin in the 2024-2027 triennial period. CBP will announce the start date and the number of education credits that will be required during this period in a future Federal Register notice and on the CBP website.
CBP encourages all brokers to take this time before the requirement is in place to take stock of their education activities over the past several years. Individual brokers may start to identify those activities that could likely qualify for education credit once the new requirement is in place. Individual brokers will likely find that many education activities currently pursued will likely meet the continuing education requirements. Some examples to consider:
- Attended a meeting of your local broker association
- Participated in a commodity webinar hosted by CBP’s National Commodity Specialist Division
- Participated in a local Trade Day hosted by the CBP Port Director
- Took an online training course, such as those conducted by a trade association
- Attended a CBP Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit
CBP encourages individual brokers to continue monitoring this website for updated information on the new Broker Continuing Education requirement.
Have a question? Please submit your questions to: ContinuingEducation@cbp.dhs.gov. CBP will continue answering questions that come to this box in future updates to this website.
Webinar (August 3, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. ET)
CBP hosted a webinar on August 3, 2023, which provided an overview of the new regulations for customs brokers, which mandates a continuing education requirement to maintain an individual license. The webinar presented an implementation overview as well as next steps for brokers to take to meet the upcoming program requirements.
Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS)
- CSMS# 57625703 - Request for Information for Continuing Education Accreditors for Licensed Customs Brokers Issued in SAM
- CSMS# 56727800 - Final Rule Published: Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers
- CSMS# 56927521 - Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers Webinar- August 3, 2023
Press Release: CBP Introduces Customs Broker Education Requirements