Individual licensed customs brokers would be subject to a new continuing education requirement under a proposed rule from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

CBP believes such a requirement is necessitated by the complex and evolving nature of international trade, stating that “simply relying on self-initiated efforts to maintain current knowledge is insufficient to ensure compliance with the wide array of applicable and evolving laws that is necessary to protect the revenue of the United States.” CBP notes evidence suggesting that as more time passes since the passing of a broker’s license exam the more errors are made. On the other hand, CBP states, data indicates that companies employing individual brokers who voluntarily pursue continuing education in the form of industry certifications generally commit fewer errors.

Under CBP’s proposal, individual customs broker license holders would have to complete at least 36 continuing education credits per triennial period, which works out to an hour per month, rather than the 40 hours previously considered. Two groups of brokers would be exempted from this requirement: those who have voluntarily suspended their license in accordance with 19 CFR 111.52 and those who have not held their license for an entire triennial period at the time the required status report is submitted. In addition, individual brokers reentering the profession following a period of voluntary suspension would be subject to a prorated requirement of one continuing education credit for each complete remaining month until the end of the triennial period.

Brokers could earn continuing education credits for a variety of training or educational activities, whether in-person or online, including the completion of coursework, seminars, workshops, symposia, or conventions and, subject to certain limitations and requirements, the preparation and presentation of subject matter as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker. Training or educational activity provided by CBP or any other federal agency that is relevant to customs business would automatically qualify as continuing education credit, but training or educational activity offered by corporations, non-profit organizations, or foreign government agencies would only qualify if it has been approved beforehand by a CBP-selected accreditor. CBP notes that it has dropped the idea of requiring brokers to complete a specific number of hours of continuing education on laws authorizing CBP operations and processes and CBP regulations and programs.

Brokers would report and certify their compliance upon the submission of their triennial status reports. They would also have to maintain for three years records documenting compliance that include specific information, though no specific format would be required.

CBP would be authorized to take disciplinary actions if a broker fails to complete the required number of continuing education credits or certify his or her compliance. These measures would progress from warning letters to suspension and revocation of the broker’s license.

Comments on this proposed rule are due no later than Nov. 9. For more information on the details and impacts of this rule, please contact Paula Connelly (via email or at (781) 897-1771) or Lenny Feldman (via email or at (305) 894-1011).

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