Background

Licensed customs brokers could be subject to a new continuing education requirement under a proposal being considered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Comments in response to this advance notice of proposed rulemaking are due no later than Dec. 28.

CBP states that recent developments have demonstrated the need for those involved in importing and exporting to keep up-to-date on training and continuously build and maintain their knowledge of current requirements. For example, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act prompted new rules on duty drawback. Modern supply chains make determining the country of origin of imported goods more complex than in the past. Low-value shipments, which have exploded with the online shopping revolution, have created multiple levels of issues for international trade that touch security, health and safety, information collection, timely clearance, duty evasion, and facility capacity.

Given the vigorous pace, complex nature, and expanding scope of international trade, CBP believes brokers must maintain a high level of functional and accessible knowledge to stay efficient and compliant over time. CBP believes a framework of continuing education requirements would (1) enhance the credibility and value of a broker’s license, (2) improve brokers’ skills, performance, and productivity, and (3) increase client service and compliance with customs laws.

CBP has therefore laid out in this ANPR a number of possible provisions for such a framework, including the following.

- 40 hours of continuing education over three years

- credit for established corporate training, courses offered by broker associations, CBP online webinars, training relevant to customs business by other federal agencies, conferences and national customs brokers association meetings, and periodic port-level meetings with brokers

- 75 percent of continuing education would have to focus on customs business and CBP operational and process requirements, with 25 percent for other areas related to international trade that are not CBP-specific

- applicable to all licensed brokers

- reporting concurrently with submission of triennial report

- disciplinary measures for failure to comply such as warning letters and suspension and revocation of license

- suspension of continuing education requirement while a license is in voluntary suspension and requirement to complete a certain number of credits in the first year after a license is reactivated

CBP is seeking comments on dozens of questions related to these and other aspects of the potential continuing education requirement, including its costs and benefits. However, CBP notes that it is also open to considering ideas other than continuing education to meet the objective of maintaining integrity and professionalism in the broker industry.

For more information, please contact Paula Connelly at (781) 897-1771 or Lenny Feldman at (305) 894-1011.

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