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Proposed Continuing Education Requirement for Customs Brokers Refined

Monday, August 12, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection approved Aug. 7 two recommendations concerning continuing education requirements for customs brokers. CBP is drafting an update to the broker regulations in 19 CFR Part 111 that is expected to include a continuing education requirement.

COAC recommended a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education for brokers over the three-year reporting period, which works out to about one hour per month. COAC further proposed that a minimum of 32 hours be accredited, meaning that up to eight hours could come from non-accredited education providers, and CBP says it is “receptive” to this suggestion. CBP also agrees with COAC’s recommendation that brokers be allowed to report their continuing education hours at the same time they file their triennial reports, both of which should be done together in the Automated Commercial Environment.

The committee urged CBP to take a “measured, commercially reasonable approach” to the continuing education requirement for brokers who want to reactivate an inactive license. No further details were given, but CBP officials have said they are considering requiring such brokers to only make up the continuing education hours for last triennial cycle they missed; i.e., a maximum of 40 hours would be needed to reactivate a license.

CBP agrees with brokers that there should be no-cost and low-cost options for complying with a continuing education mandate. A list of education opportunities compiled by a work group within the COAC Trade Modernization Subcommittee includes courses offered by local associations of brokers, freight forwarders, importers and exporters; conferences and seminars offered by regional and national trade associations; relevant coursework offered by local colleges and universities; local port authority trade seminars; and courses offered by compliance firms, law firms and other consulting firms with expertise in customs broker compliance. CBP is “receptive” to the suggestion that any company that conducts compliance training for in-house brokers and is also a member of the Importer Self-Assessment program should not be required to have its education accredited.

The work group will next discuss how to establish the bona fides of brokers and hopes to have recommendations in this area later this year. The work group also plans to discuss customs broker permit modernization in the future.

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