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Customs Broker Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

How do I find a Broker?

Please go to Find a Permitted Broker on the Broker webpage, select a state, then click on a port from the resulting search list.

Where can I find study materials for the Broker Exam?

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule and the Code of Federal Regulations may be found at https://bookstore.gpo.gov. Directives and the CATAIR may be found at CBP.gov

How can I study for the examination?

CBP maintains 15 years of actual exam and answer keys at https://www.cbp.gov/document/publications/past-customs-broker-license-ex....

How long does it take to obtain a Customs Broker License?

CBP processing time upon receipt of a complete application averages 4 - 6 months.

How can I find information on importing?

Please contact a Customs Broker or local Port.

I received my notice of passing the exam but never received the application packet.

If an application is not received within 60 day of the passing grade letter, you may contact the BMO at the port indicated on your registration form.

I moved and misplaced my original license.

Replacement requests can be made to port though which your license is registered or via e-mail to brokermanagement@cbp.dhs.gov with "license replacement request" in the subject line.

How often is the examination given?

The Customs broker exam is given twice annually in October and April.

What are the requirements to obtain a custom brokerage license?

An individual must be a citizen of the United States, not an officer or employee of the U.S. Government, be of good moral character, have attained 21 years of age prior to submission of the application and have passed a Customs broker exam within 3 years of the submission of the application.

Where do I send my license name change request?

Name change request letters can be mailed to the BMO at your license registered port or e-mail to brokermanagment@cbp.dhs.gov including the supporting legal documentation and putting license name change request in the subject line.

Customs Broker Triennial Status Report

Who is required to submit a triennial status report and pay the corresponding fee?

A status report and fee must be submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for every license that has not been previously revoked, suspended or canceled, whether it may be a license for a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, or individual. Some brokers who have had their licenses suspended may be required to submit a status report and fee depending upon the conditions of the Suspension Agreement enacted between CBP and the individually licensed broker.

An individually licensed Customs broker who forms a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or association, that is subsequently licensed as a Customs broker, will be required to submit two reports and fees along with each report that is filed - one for the individual license, and one for the license for the organization.

When is the status report due to Customs?

The federal regulations specify that the triennial status report is due by February, every three years, starting from 1985.  Based on this information, one can calculate in which years future triennial status reports will be due: 2015, 2018, 2021, and so on.

A report that is filed during the month of February in the year in which reporting is due, and which is filed for the current reporting cycle, is considered to be filed timely. CBP offices will begin accepting the status report and the corresponding fee on December 15, 2017.  Filing for year 2018, for example, can therefore be made between December 15, 2017 and February 28, 2018.

Where should I submit the report and fee?

The report and fee submissions will be collected online via the Pay.gov website, where credit, debit and digital wallet (PayPal, Amazon Pay, etc) are accepted*. The status report webform fields will be filled directly on Pay.gov, and the employee list can be attached and uploaded, as applicable.

 

A link to the Triennial Status Reporting on pay.gov is located HERE on our webpage. The pay.gov link will become operational on December 15, 2017 when the reporting timeframe opens.

 

In no instance should reports be submitted directly to CBP headquarters. Submission of triennial reports directly to headquarters will not be considered to have satisfied reporting requirements.

*Note: There are no additional fees for paying online using any means on Pay.gov

 

 

What steps should I take to ensure receipted submission of my status report on pay.gov?

It is advised to create a pay.gov account prior to initiating payment. This will allow payment records to be queried in pay.gov under your account. If you do not create an account prior to status report/fee submission, you will not be able to research payment history.

 

Prior to advancing to Payment, it is strongly advised to select “PDF Preview” at the bottom of the status report form and save the completed form for your record.

On the payment confirmation page, select that you want to receive an email of the transaction. You will be able to enter an email address and an additional cc: email address. A receipt will be emailed to each address provided.

How much is the corresponding fee?

Payment via Pay.gov in the amount of $100.00 (one hundred dollars) should accompany each status report that is submitted to CBP.  Payment by credit, debt and digital wallet (PayPal, Amazon Pay, etc.) are accepted.

*Note: There are no additional fees for paying online using any means on Pay.gov

What is the format for the report?

The required elements of the report are prescribed in 19 CFR 111.30(d). There is no required format for the report; however, the electronic submission contains all data elements required to be provided in the Triennial Status Report.

Please be reminded, licensed customs brokers with active permit(s) must submit an employee list, if applicable, along with the status report in accordance with 19 CFR 111.28(b). The electronic submission allows a PDF document upload of the employee list.

In addition, each individually licensed broker must indicate, by selecting the associated box on the web form, whether or not he/she still meets the applicable requirements of 19 CFR 111.11 and 111.19 and has not engaged in any conduct that could constitute grounds for suspension or revocation under section 111.53.

For purposes of completing the report, how does CBP define a person who is "actively engaged" in transacting customs business?

Individuals are considered to be  "actively engaged" in transacting customs business when they are currently transacting or have recently transacted customs business on behalf of others as a sole proprietor, or when they are employed by a licensed Customs broker which is currently transacting or has recently transacted customs business on behalf of others. Those who work for another broker and are not directly involved in any activities which fall under the scope of the definition of customs business may report that they are not actively engaged in customs business.

Partnerships, corporations, and associations must also report to Customs in a status report whether or not they are actively engaged in customs business. An organization which currently transacts or recently transacted customs business on behalf of others should report that they are "actively engaged" in customs business.

How do I record my name on the status report if I legally changed my name since my license was issued?

Brokers should record their name on the status report that will be submitted to CBP as it appears on their Customs broker license. Any broker who has undergone a legal name change and has not had his/her/its license reissued so that the name on the license agrees with the new legal name, must provide the port director with evidence of their right to use the new legal name and separately request that the license be reissued in the new name.

What happens if I fail to submit a status report by the end of February of any given reporting year?

All valid licenses for which no report has been submitted will be suspended by operation of law on March 1 of any given reporting year. When a license is so suspended, the port/Center director will transmit written notice of the suspension to the broker in March of that same reporting year. The notice will be mailed to the last known address reflected in CBP records. Note that if the broker has failed to provide the port/center director with a current and accurate address, the suspension notice will, as a result, be mailed to an incorrect address.

The broker may tender a status report and fees online via the Pay.gov website within the 60 day notice period and MUST notify the appropriate port/center director of the electronic filing. If the status report and fee is submitted within 60 days of notice of suspension, the license will be reinstated.

If the broker does not tender the relevant status report and fees to the port/center director, pursuant to 19 CFR 111.30(d), the broker’s license will be revoked by operation of law.

What happens if I fail to submit a status report by the end of the 60-day suspension period?

Unfortunately, failure to submit a status report and the corresponding fees to CBP during the 60-day period will result in the license being revoked. Such licenses are revoked by operation of law without prejudice to the filing of a new application for a license. This means that, while a license which is revoked by operation of law cannot be reinstated, the effected individual may file a new application for a license.  However, unless the individual has passed the customs broker license exam within the three years prior to submitting that new application, the individual will need to retake the exam.

Can I submit my triennial status report in paper form?

We encourage you to submit your triennial status report and payment electronically via pay.gov; however, a paper triennial status report and payment in the form of a check or money order payable to U.S. Customs and Border Protection may be submitted to the port that originally delivered the license to the broker. A report and/or fee submitted to a port other than the delivered through port may be rejected, returned, misplaced or denied which may result in the revocation of the license.

Triennial Status Report Form

In no instance should reports be submitted directly to CBP headquarters. Submission of triennial reports directly to headquarters will not be considered to have satisfied reporting requirements.

Trade Names and Corporations

I have an individual Customs Broker license, and I want to start a corporation that will engage in "Customs business." May I transfer my individual license to the corporation for purposes of engaging in "Customs business" as a corporation?

No. Customs Broker licenses are issued to individuals, associations, corporations, or partnerships. These licenses are restricted to the person or entity to which they are issued, and are not transferable from that license holder to any other individual or entity, regardless the relationship. For example, an individual licensee may not use his or her license for the purpose of a corporation to engage in "Customs business" - even if the licensee is sole owner of that corporation. The corporation would need to obtain its own Customs Broker license.

Note that, upon that corporation's receipt of its license, the licensed individual could qualify it to engage in "Customs business."  In such a case, the licensee would be required to be an officer of that corporation.

I am a licensed individual who wishes to operate under a different name. After receiving approval from the relevant state/local authority, what is the next step?

If the broker wishes to operate under a different name, the broker can change his, her, or its name, or can can utilize a fictitious name name i.e., DBA, or "Doing Business As". Pursuant to 19 CFR § 111.30(c), a broker who wishes to change names, or proposes to operate under a trade or fictitious name, must obtain approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection prior to that new name's use.

In the case of a trade or fictitious name, the broker must affix his, her, or its own name in conjunction with the approved trade name when signing customs documents. For example, should Customs broker "ABC, Inc." be granted approval to use the fictitious name of "XYZ," that Customs broker must sign customs documents as "ABC, Inc. dba XYZ."

To request use of a trade name, please submit to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Broker Management Branch, the following:

  1. A written request for use of the trade name.  Include your name, mailing and email address, phone number, port and port code, and license number.

  2. A copy of approval to use the trade name from the relevant local authority (e.g., state or county).  If the relevant local authority does not review trade name usage requests, please note this in the your request to the Broker Management Branch.

My individual license was revoked for failure to file my triennial status report, and I am the licensed qualifying broker for the corporation. Does this affect the corporation?

Yes. A licensed individual and a licensed corporation, association, or partnership, each have an obligation to file their own triennial status reports. If the business entity files its status report timely but the individual licensee qualifying the business does not file his or her own status report timely, pursuant to 19 CFR 111.30(d), that individual's license may be revoked by operation of law.

An individual licensed qualifier for a corporation, association, or partnership, who loses his or her license, subjects that business entity's license to possible revocation. Pursuant to 19 CFR 111.45(a), if, during any continuous period of 120 days, the corporation, association, or partnership brokerage firm fails to have at least once officer who holds a valid individual broker's license, that business entity's license and all of its permits will be revoked by operation of law.

I am a licensed broker, and I have formed a company. Should I notify U.S. Customs and Border Protection of that formation?

It depends.  For a company to engage in "Customs business," that company must generally become its own licensed entity. If the company engages in "Customs business" without a license, as specified in 19 CFR 111.11, the company may be subject to penalties. 19 U.S.C. 1641(b)(6) dictates, for example, that each intentional transaction of customs business without a license creates liability for a monetary penalty of up to $10,000. 

Should the company not engage in customs business, however, then it is not necessary to disclose the entity's formation to U.S. Customs & Border Protection.  Nevertheless, other rules and regulations still apply.  For example, if the individual broker outsources ancillary services to the corporation, the corporation must have no access to or involvement in the actual customs business work of the licensed broker. In addition, pursuant to 19 CFR 111.24, broker clients record, and the information contained in those records, must generally not be disclosed to third parties. Third parties include the broker's company, so long as it is its own distinct legal entity, irrespective of ownership structure.

May a filer code be transferred between entities, such as from a broker to his or her newly licensed company?

No. Filer codes, which are unique and dedicated, are assigned to individuals, corporations, partnerships, or associations. As such, an individual who later obtains a corporate license to engage in "Customs business" and intends to conduct "Customs business" as a corporation would need to obtain a separate corporate filer code.  The manner of requesting the filer code for the company remains the same as requesting the filer code for the individual.

Last modified: 
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 15:15
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