Thursday, May 29, 2008

Changes Proposed to Customs Broker License Examination Eligibility Requirements

On Tuesday May 27, the Federal Register contained a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) concerning changes to the eligibility requirements for taking the Customs Broker License Examination. The proposed rule would require individuals to meet the following criteria prior to the date of the exam. In order to take the exam, individuals must be U.S. citizens,
21 years of age, and not be an officer or employee of the U.S. Government.

The proposed amendments would more closely align the requirements for taking the written examination with the requirements an individual must satisfy in order to obtain a customs broker's license. As a result, this proposed rule would facilitate the overall customs broker licensing process by helping to ensure that those taking the examination are not automatically precluded from obtaining a license by reason of age, citizenship status, or employment. These changes also resemble the requirements for obtaining a license that were changed in 2000 to allow applicants three years to meet the eligibility requirements after taking the exam.

Comments must be received on or before July 28, 2008. Make your opinion count and post your comments! Comments must be identified by docket number and submitted by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Docket number USCBP–2008–0059.

Trade and Commercial Regulations Branch, Regulations and Rulings
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., (Mint Annex)
Washington, DC 20229.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Changes to Antiquated Customs Broker Regulations Pending

At the NCBFAA Conference in April, Commissioner Ralph Basham stated that some changes needed to be made to antiquated broker processes. First, there needs to be change to the process of filing the Triennial Status Report. Initiated prior to automated systems, the party who forgets to mail the administrative report could lose their license almost immediately, which results in a penalty disproportionate with the infraction. Second, CBP needs to be able to suspend the licenses of brokers whose illegal activities threaten national security and the health and safety of individuals in the U.S. Just last year, brokers were indicted and arrested for smuggling, but CBP could not suspend their licenses. Basham told the attendees that new draft legislation addresses both of these issues.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Informed Compliance Publications

Customs and Border Protection has been busy writing, reviewing and updating the Informed Compliance Publications this year. Three new publications have been added, and 24 were updated in the first quarter of 2008. Here’s a brief overview of the new publications along with a list of the publications that have been reviewed and updated.

New Publications:

Classification and Entry Requirements of Alcoholic Beverages and Spirits (February 2008)
This new publication provides detailed explanations of each heading, the related explanatory notes and some examples of products included in each heading. Additionally, it provides instructions on how to compute proof liters along with examples. This is a great source of information for importers of alcoholic beverages and for persons studying for the broker’s exam. CBP has asked questions related to the classification of alcoholic beverages and calculation of proof liters on past exams.

Classification of Coated and Water Resistant Apparel (January 2008)
Finding the proper classification of wearing apparel can be a difficult task, but determining the difference between coated and water resistant provisions is one of the most frequently misunderstood areas. This new publication presents information to clarify the distinctions between the visibly coated and water resistant apparel goods by explaining how the GRI, Chapter Legal Notes and the actual headings provide direction in classifying these goods. Since CBP recently asked a question related to a water resistant apparel good on the broker’s exam, this publication would also be helpful to those studying for the upcoming exam.

Eyewear Frames and Eyewear (January 2008)
The new publication provides a comprehensive discussion of eyewear, which encompasses the actual completed product, frames, accessories and cases. In addition to CBP regulations, this publication includes information concerning the regulation of eyewear by other government agencies.

Revised and Updated Publications:

· Agglomerated Stone - 03/13/2008
· Agricultural Actual Use Provisions - 02/01/2008
· Base Metal Mountings and Fittings - 02/13/2008
· Basic Forms of Non-Ferrous Metals - 02/26/2008
· Beauty and Skin Care Products of Heading 3304 - 03/06/2008
· Button, Snap Fasteners, Slide Fasteners and Similar Articles - 02/13/2008
· Buying & Selling Commissions - 01/08/2008
· Caviar - 03/20/2008
· Classification of Children's Apparel - 02/13/2008
· Classification of Cooking Ranges, Stoves and Ovens - 03/03/2008
· Classification and Marking of Watches and Clocks - 02/13/2008
· Coated Nonalloy Flat-Rolled Steel - 02/13/2008 02/13/2008
· Decorative Glassware - 03/13/2008
· Diodes, Transistors & Similar Semiconductor Devices - 02/21/2008
· Distinguishing Bolts from Screws - 02/21/2008
· Fasteners of Heading 7318 - 02/13/2008
· Hand Tool Sets Classified Within Subheadings
  8205.90.00 and 8206.00.00 - 02/13/2008
· Household Articles of Base Metal - 02/13/2008
· Mushrooms - 03/06/2008
· Peanuts and their Classification under the HTSUS - 03/06/2008
· Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and Electronic Organizers - 04/01/2008
· Stranded Wire, Rope and Cable, of Iron or Steel- 02/28/2008
· Vending Machines and Their Parts Under the HTSUS - 04/21/2008
· Waste & Scrap as it Relates to Base Metals of Chapter 81 - 02/26/2008

Tired of looking for updates? Click here to find out how you can have updated versions for all of the Informed Compliance Publications along with an extensive compilation of Customs Directives and other selected CBP information in looseleaf and searchable CD-ROM.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Importer Security Filing “10+2” Update

In May, the Federal Register published the regulatory agendas for various government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. The comment period for the implementation of 10+2 ended on March 18, 2008. Almost 200 comments were submitted in response to the proposed rulemaking have been published for review. Click here to view some of the comments. According the information published in the Federal Register, CBP projects that they will issue the final 10+2 rule sometime in September.

As we posted in September 2007 and February 2008, the Importer Security Filing rule will require that carriers and importers submit additional data elements by EDI. CBP states that collection of this information will enhance targeting and risk analysis capabilities, improve facilitation of lawful trade, and is required by the SAFE Port Act 203. In addition to the new reporting requirements, the rule also proposes to amend 19 CFR 113.62 to include payment of liquidated damages for violations of the proposed regulations. The principal could be liable for damages equal to the value of the merchandise for failure to comply with the regulations. Additional penalties of $5,000 per violation could be imposed for failure to comply with container status messages.

Even though the final rule will not be published until September and the implementation is likely to be phased in over 8 to 12 months, importers, brokers, forwarders and carriers need to prepare now.

Someone within your organization needs to have responsibility for obtaining the required information. For importers, should this responsibility be delegated to Customs Compliance, Logistics, or some combination of parties? Who will transmit the information – your company or an agent? Remember that the importer is solely responsible for submitting the information, but an agent may submit it if they have a power of attorney. For brokers, how will you manage this process with clients? What changes will need to be made to the software and other electronic data systems?

Take action now to avoid costly delays in cargo delivery later!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Pass Rate - 20.6%

For all of you who have been patiently (or not so patiently) waiting on the results of the April 2008 Customs Broker Exam, CBP expects to have the answers posted their web site some time this week. CBP will start mailing letters at the end of this week, so you should start camping out by your mailbox next Monday.

The pass rate for this exam was 20.6%, which is higher than the 9.2% on the October exam. We’ll be watching the CBP web site for the answers so we can provide an updated list of correct answers and a list of potential protest questions. For those of you who purchased the Boskage Study Plans that included the detailed exam commentary, we’ll be completing that information and posting it as soon as possible after the official exam results are posted.