How to Become a Custom Broker in the USA

A custom broker uses their knowledge of the industry to assist importers and exporters in obtaining customs clearance across international borders. So, do you want to be a customs broker in the USA? This article explains everything you need to know about customs brokers’ salaries, customs brokers in the United States, and how to become one.

Customs brokers are an important part of the shipping industry because of the increasing amount of goods shipped into, out of, and across the USA.

A customs broker clears all imported goods shipments, prepares required documents for export shipments, and acts as a liaison between the government and importers by assisting shipping companies with legislative processes.

If you are interested in becoming a customs broker and want to be paid well for doing something you enjoy while working for an amazing company, keep reading!

Who is a Customs Broker in the USA?

corporations licensed, regulated, and authorized by US Customs and Border Protection to assist importers and exporters in meeting Federal import and export requirements. Brokers charge their clients a fee for submitting necessary information and making appropriate payments to CBP on their behalf.

Brokers must be knowledgeable about entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, and the rates of duty, taxes, and fees applicable to imported merchandise.

Most people who conduct cross-border transactions use the services of a licensed customs broker to clear their shipments at the border. For each of these transactions, reams of critical business data must be generated, covering everything from the country of origin and destination to suppliers, tariff classifications, routings, and intended use.

What Does A Customs Broker Do?

Customs brokers help the international trade community by handling customs clearance for shipments traveling by air, sea, or land. Among these services are, but are not limited to the following:

  • Completing the necessary paperwork for export shipments
  • Clearing imported goods shipments
  • Obtaining the necessary duties and taxes
  • Customs accounting documentation preparation
  • Consultation on topics such as how to maximize the benefits of free trade agreements
  • Providing organizations with information and paperwork to assist them in shipping their goods out of the country, as well as assisting businesses in successfully importing goods by clearing customs.
  • Maintaining current knowledge of the latest tariffs and fees that businesses must pay, as well as ensuring compliance with biosecurity and other requirements.
  • Obtaining permissions, licenses, or other approvals to ensure the smooth importation of specific goods

Every country has different import and export regulations and procedures for various products, and these rules are constantly changing. Brokerage personnel is responsible for staying current on new regulations in order to better advise their customers.

Customs brokers, in addition to having a wealth of specialized knowledge, communicate with various agencies and government officials as goods are shipped to ensure proper procedures are followed. This not only ensures that goods are cleared correctly and on time, but it also saves clients from having to deal with customs officials directly.

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How to Become a Customs Broker in the USA

In order to become a licensed customs broker, you must first complete the following :

  • You must have the necessary educational credentials
  • You must pass the licensing exam
  • Submit a license application and pay the required permit fees
  • Make preparations for the application process

You must have the necessary educational credentials

To be a productive custom broker, you must understand entry procedures, valuation, and entry requirements, among other things. The industry is fast-paced and demanding, requiring highly knowledgeable professionals who must also keep up to date on current national customs standards.

Although you can get the job with just a high school diploma, employers usually prefer to hire people who have completed a degree program in the industry and understand brokerage professionalism. You could, for example, pursue a transportation degree or a business management program.

You must pass the customs broker license exam

Applicants for the customs broker license exam must apply in the ports where they want to work in customs brokerage. To be eligible for the customs broker exam, you must provide proof of eligibility, which may include a photo ID or proof of registration.

Submit a license application and pay permit fees

Following the passing of the exam, the next step should be to obtain a work permit. You may need to budget for processing and fingerprinting fees. The fingerprint analysis assists authorities in conducting an investigation into your background and reviewing your character references, arrest records and credit checks.

Make preparations for the application process

The license application process can take up to six months or more, depending on a variety of factors. Some of the factors that influence the processing time include, but are not limited to:

  • The various locations an applicant has lived in
  • The  state of national security
  • The workload of background investigation agents

As a result, if you want to start working within the specified time frame, consider applying well in advance.

How to become an import export agent

If you are much interested in how to become an import export agent in the USA, the following will aid you:

  • Choose a product to represent
  • Create a Product Line
  • Ensure that you have complete product knowledge
  • Conduct competitor analysis
  • Check to see if any safety regulations apply to you.
  • Determine the territory you want to represent
  • Recognize circumvention clauses
  • Make certain you get samples
  • Make certain that you have promotional materials
  • Before entering into negotiations, know what commission rate you want

Custom broker salary

The average Licensed Customs Broker salary in the United States is $73,917. A Licensed Customs Broker’s average bonus is $2,500, or 3% of their salary, with 50% of people reporting that they receive a bonus each year. Licensed Customs Brokers earn the most in San Francisco, at $107,762, with total compensation that is 46% higher than the national average.

Entry-level custom broker salary

An entry-level customs broker salary, such as that of an import specialist, maybe as low as $40,160 per year. Entry-level jobs typically do not necessitate a college degree or extensive work experience.

Experienced customs brokers with management positions in logistics or purchasing can earn up to $115,220 per year. Customs brokers with college degrees are more likely to be offered higher-level positions.

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Customs Broker license exam

To obtain the customs broker’s license, you must pass the US Customs broker exam. This is one of the most difficult exams to pass in the United States. The exam is taken by approximately 2,600 people each year, with only about 15% passing.

To pass, most examinees will need to take a prep course. The real-world application does not guarantee a passing grade, regardless of how much experience a person has with import compliance.

The customs broker license exam purpose is to “determine the individual’s knowledge of Customs and related laws, regulations, and procedures, bookkeeping, accounting, and all other relevant matters required to render valuable service to importers and exporters.”#

Eligibility for the customs broker license exam

  • You must be a United States citizen
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Cannot be a Federal government employee

About the customs broker license exam

  • There are 80 multiple-choice questions.
  • Classification, valuation, trade agreements, entry, broker compliance, power of attorney, marking, drawback, bonds, foreign trade zones, warehouses, fines and penalties, and intellectual property rights are common topics covered.
  • The examination lasts 4 12 hours.
  • A passing score is 75% or higher (You must correctly answer 60 questions to pass)
  • The customs broker license exam is administered twice a year, in April and October
  • The customs broker license exam is open book; examinees must bring the 19 CFR, HTS catalog, specified Customs directives, and any other paper reference material (no personal electronics are permitted). However, test sites do provide electronic copies.
  • The fee is $390, and it must be paid at least 30 days before the exam date.
  • Also, if you fail the exam, you can take it as many times as you want.

Who requires the services of a customs broker?

Now that you understand what customs brokers do, you must determine whether you require the services of a customs broker.

In this section, we’ll go over the scenarios in which the services of a customs broker are most useful.

Commercial importing

Customs brokers make the import process easier for your company. They are your border representatives, and they collaborate with the CBSA and handle face-to-face operations so you don’t have to.

When you have a high import rate, it can be difficult to get clearance at the border, especially if you don’t send someone with every shipment. Your imports are in good hands with a customs broker.

Furthermore, customs brokers pay duties as precisely as possible for each shipment. If your company imports frequently and in large quantities, this can save you a lot of money over time. Any customs broker fees you pay are actually investments that will save you money in the long run.

Importing delicate or controlled items

Attempting to clear sensitive goods can be difficult and even risky for business. When a minor oversight can cost your company its importing privileges, the expertise of a customs broker is invaluable.

Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, automobiles, firearms, and tobacco all necessitate additional documentation, permits, and adherence to health and safety regulations. Customs brokers understand these complex regulations and can assist you in avoiding complications and audits for such items.

Only a licensed customs broker can file certain declarations, such as when importing capital goods from another country into the United States. A customs broker’s services are required in these situations.

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Importing by a non-resident

Whether you live next door or halfway around the world, living outside the United States should not prevent you from trading in the American market. You do not need to have a physical presence in the country to import goods into the United States if you use the services of a licensed customs broker.

As a non-resident importer, entrusting border operations to a licensed customs broker protects your company from complications caused by unfamiliarity with US import regulations.

Customs audits

Being audited by US Customs and Border Protection, whether at random or not, can be stressful. Auditors look for evidence of reasonable care in how imports are declared and border tariffs are paid. You can ensure reasonable care by taking appropriate regulatory compliance measures.

This implies that even if an error is discovered during the audit, your penalty may be reduced simply by using the assistance of a licensed customs broker.

Furthermore, customs brokers can conduct internal audits to prepare your company for a real audit. They advise you on how to improve your procedures in order to avoid fines and penalties.

Conclusion

If you want to become a customs broker in the United States, you should first learn what it takes. This article has been written to assist you in realizing your dream.

FAQs About A Custom Broker In The USA

Can customs brokers work from home?

Yes, customs brokers can work from home giving you the flexibility to work from anywhere!

Is customs broker a good career?

Over the years, the overall job outlook for Customs Broker careers has been positive. During that time, job openings for this profession increased by 95.26 percent nationwide, with an average annual increase of 5.95 percent. Customs Brokers are expected to be in high demand, with 25,840 new jobs expected to be created by 2029.

How can i become a custom broker?

The following are the requirement to become a customs broker:
You must have the necessary educational credentials, You must pass the licensing exam, Submit a license application and pay the required permit fees, and Make preparations for the application process…

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