What is a Customs broker?
Customs brokers are private individuals, partnerships, associations
or corporations licensed, regulated and empowered by U.S. Customs
and Border Protection (CBP) to assist importers and exporters in
meeting Federal requirements governing imports and exports. Brokers
submit necessary information and appropriate payments to CBP on
behalf of their clients and charge them a fee for this service.
Brokers must have expertise in the entry procedures, admissibility
requirements, classification, valuation, and the rates of duty and
applicable taxes and fees for imported merchandise.
There are approximately 11,000 active licensed Customs brokers in
the United States.
What about Customs brokerages?
Corporations, partnerships and associations must have a broker
license to transact Customs business. Each of these businesses must
have at least one individually licensed officer, partner or
associate to qualify the company's license. Failure to have a
qualifying officer or member (of a partnership) for more than 120
days will result in the revocation of the broker license.
Who is eligible to become qualified as a Customs broker?
To be eligible, you must:
be a United States citizen at least 21
not be a current Federal Government
possess good moral character.
Assuming I am eligible, how do I become a Customs broker?
First, you must pass the Customs Broker
Second, you must submit a broker license
application with appropriate fees.
Third, your application must be approved by
1. The Customs Broker License Examination
Q: What is the Customs Broker License Examination?
A: The Customs Broker License Examination is an open
book/open test with 80 multiple-choice questions based on designated
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the
United States (HTSUS)
Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations
Specified Customs Directives
Customs and Trade Automated Interface
Requirements document (CATAIR)
Q: How long is the Customs Broker License Examination?
A: You have four hours to complete the examination.
Q: Where and when is the Customs Broker Examination given?
A: This examination is normally given at CBP service ports the
first Monday in April and the first Monday in October. If that
Monday is a religious holiday, the examination will be given the
following Tuesday. The appropriate CBP port director must receive
the examination application and $200 fee at least 30 days in advance
of the examination.
Q: What must applicants take to the Customs Broker
A: Each applicant is responsible for bringing proof of
registration, a picture identification, and the recommended
reference materials to the examination.
Q: Must I be a U.S. citizen to take this examination?
A: No, you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to take this
examination. But you must be a U.S. citizen to apply for a broker
Q: What is a passing score?
A: A passing score is 75 percent or better.
Q: What if I fail the examination?
A: You may retake the examination until you pass. You are also
entitled to submit an appeal of your examination score to CBP in
accordance with 19 CFR 111.13(f)
2. Applying for a Customs Broker License
Q: When may I apply?
A: Assuming you are eligible, you may apply after you pass
the Customs Broker License Examination.
Q: How long after passing the examination can I wait to apply
for a broker license?
A: You must apply to a CBP port director within three years of
the date of the letter notifying you that you passed the Customs
Broker License Examination.
Q: What are the fees for a broker license application?
A: There is a $200 application fee (plus a fingerprint check and
Q: Where do I apply?
A: Apply to the port where you want to transact Customs business
as a broker.
Broker License Application Review
Q: Who reviews broker license applications?
A: There are three levels of review. First is a multi-agency
background investigation. Second, the CBP port director reviews the
background investigation and any other pertinent information, and
forwards a recommendation to CBP Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Finally, CBP will carefully evaluate each application, and the
Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, will advise
the applicant whether his or her application is approved.
Q: What does the background investigation include?
A: Each broker license applicant must undergo a background
investigation that includes a fingerprint analysis and a review of
character references, credit reports, and any arrest record. Arrests
or convictions do not necessarily preclude the issuance of a
Q: How long does the license application process take?
A: The length of time it takes to complete the license
application process can vary depending on multiple factors. Some of
the factors include but are not limited to the amount of different
locations the applicant has lived in, the workload of the agent
conducting the background investigation and the national security
threat level. An application can take from 8 to 12 months to
Q: Is there an appeal if a broker license application is
denied by CBP?
A: Yes. Appeal procedures are outlined in 19 CFR 111.17.
Please send written correspondence to: U.S. Customs and Border
Protection Trade Facilitation and Administration Broker Compliance
Branch 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Attn: 1400 L Street Washington