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Broker Precertification for Importer Self-Assessment to be Tested Soon

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to conduct a test in which up to nine customs brokers will be able to pre-certify importers for participation in the Importer Self-Assessment program. The primary goal of the Broker ISA PC test is to leverage customs broker relationships to facilitate and promote importer participation in ISA, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, and thus increase the pool of trusted traders with minimal use of CBP resources. Those interested in participating in this test should notify CBP no later than May 1.

ISA allows importers to self-assess their own compliance with customs laws and regulations on a continuing basis. CBP states that ISA is a trade facilitation partnership program that recruits trade compliant companies with the goals of reducing both CBP and company resources required during entry and post-entry processes and of building cooperative relationships that strengthen compliance with trade laws. ISA is based on the premise that importers with strong internal controls are more likely to achieve a high level of compliance, and the program provides a means for CBP to recognize and support importers who have implemented such systems.

Licensed customs brokerages and licensed customs broker sole proprietorships seeking to participate in the Broker ISA PC test program must have (1) operated as a licensed customs broker representing importers as a filer (under the licensed broker’s filer code) for at least five consecutive years immediately prior to the date of application, (2) been C-TPAT certified as a broker for at least three consecutive years, (3) maintained written internal control procedures designed to ensure compliance with CBP-related activities, (4) been trained in internal control concepts based on the Committee of Sponsoring Organization Internal Control – Integrated Framework course, and (5) a history of compliance with customs laws and regulations. Services to be provided by brokers as part of the Broker ISA PC test will include the evaluation of importers’ customs policies, procedures and readiness to participate in ISA, the submission of evaluation results to CBP, and a pre-certification that the importer has demonstrated a readiness to assume the responsibilities of the program.

Importers interested in applying to participate in ISA will still be able to do so on their own. However, using the services of an ISA pre-certifier (most likely for a fee) is expected to reduce the time period from application to presentation to the ISA Review Board from the current average of 9-12 months to 90-120 days.

CBP will review the effectiveness and feasibility of this test after one year and then determine if Broker ISA PC will be fully implemented as a permanent program.

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