US Customs Overhauling “The Role of the Broker”
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been working to completely revamp its regulations governing licensed customs brokers.
CBP has scheduled a series of summer webinars designed to describe the issues and the agency’s goals and to generate feedback from the trade community before it publishes a first draft of proposed new regulations for formal comment. Participation in this process will be critical for any broker who wishes to have a voice in shaping the future of the broker profession. For any importer that relies on a broker as part of an import compliance strategy – which applies to almost all commercial importers – each company should consider whether its past experiences or present concerns warrant making any comments in the process. In any case, CBP’s process serves as a useful reminder for importers to review whether they are properly instructing and managing brokers, since any error in the import declaration, no matter how it occurs, creates CBP enforcement risk for the importer and not necessarily for the broker.
In January 2011, CBP kicked off the Role of the Broker – Regulatory Revision Workgroup, together with the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. CBP has described the Role of the Broker initiative as an effort to develop solutions to the challenges of 21st Century commerce, to leverage broker relationships and extend opportunities for small and medium businesses, and to encourage the spread of best practices in the industry. Central to the Role of the Broker initiative, CBP has announced its intention to completely overhaul 19 CFR Part 111, the regulations governing brokers. Any broker covered by 19 CFR Part 111, whether an individual license holder, a broker in a brokerage house, or an in-house broker for an importing company, will be impacted by the planned overhaul of Part 111. Since licensed customs brokers are the conduit through which most importers make their import declarations to CBP, these changes also will necessarily impact importers.