Monday, July 28, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 2: Exam Study Aids

In our first study tip, we discussed the importance of obtaining all of the required resources that are necessary to take the exam. This study tip will focus on the various study aids and materials that will help you prepare for the exam.

The percentage of people who pass the Customs Broker Exam the first time is low, ranging from 3% to 25%. While it is possible to pass the Customs Broker Exam using only the required exam materials, most people find using a variety a supplemental materials and exam study courses significantly increases their potential of passing the exam. The use of additional study materials also improves comprehension and makes better use of limited study time.

Some people learn better by actually doing a task, while others need to read the instructions or hear the instructions. Determining your style of learning and how you learn the best is the key to studying for the exam. If you do not have time to go to lectures, you may prefer correspondence or online courses. If you comprehend better by hearing the information, you may prefer audio lectures or classroom instruction. You should seriously consider the time you have to commit to studying and your learning style when selecting study courses and training materials. We have listed just a few options for using supplemental study aids and courses here.

1. Past Exams
Taking the past exams is a good way to become familiar with the format and types of questions that appear on the test. Using past exams as a study aid also helps you learn the materials, boosts confidence, shows your progress, as well as areas that need improvement.

2. DVD's and CD's
If you want the convenience of learning at your own pace CD's and DVD's allow you to study from the comfort of your home or office and may be reviewed as often as you like. CD's provide audio which is great for listening to on your daily commute. The DVD's usually simulate a classroom environment but the advantage is that you can view the lectures at your convenience rather than commute to a class.

3. Online Study Courses
For students who want the convenience of studying at their own pace, online courses provide instruction, examples, quizzes and other tools that are usually available 24/7 and anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Boskage Commerce Publications offers a variety of courses, study plans and other materials designed to fit different learning styles, experience levels and needs of students. Click HERE to view a variety of materials and courses. Consider your learning style as you review each of these options. We sincerely believe you will find that one or a combination of several that fits your needs perfectly; however, we may be able to customize plans to fit your needs. Be sure to check out the Customs Broker Exam Room Guide, a perfect resource for regular study and use on test day. This coil bound book contains all CATAIR sections, Directives and miscellaneous resources that will be tested on the upcoming exam. The Guide also contains includes quick-reference fact sheets such as Incoterms, trade program indicators, types of appraisement, acronyms, CBP fees and more.

Stay tuned to the Boskage Trade News for more helpful hints on studying for the Customs Broker Exam! The next article will provide the pros and cons of using the loose-leaf version of the CBP Regulations. We also welcome any suggestions on topics you would like to see discussed.

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 1: Required Exam Resources

Now that you have made the decision to take the October Customs Broker Exam, it is important develop a study plan that guarantees your chances of success. Boskage wants to help you achieve your goal of passing the exam; therefore, we are starting a series of articles to support you on your journey to success! Our first topic in this series focuses on exam resources.

The first step in your plan should be acquiring the required texts and study materials. These materials come in two categories, “required” and “study aids”. Required materials are those that students must have because questions on the exam have been selected from these sources. CBP lists the required materials in the Notice of Examination. The required materials are listed below and you should obtain them now if do not already have them. All of the required materials can be purchased from Boskage Commerce Publications.

Required Exam Resources

1. Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2008 version - Supplement 1)

2. Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations (revised as of April 1, 2007 Parts 1 to 199) (no supplements)

3. Customs and Trade Automated Interface Requirements (CATAIR)

· Appendix B - Valid Codes
· Appendix D - Metric Conversion
· Appendix E - Valid Entry Numbers
· Appendix G - Common Errors
· Appendix H - Census Warning Messages
· Appendix L - Drawback Errors
· Glossary of Terms

4. Instructions for Preparation of CBP Form 7501 (8-30-2005)

5. C-TPAT - Minimum Security Criteria for Customs Brokers (3-20-2007)

6. Submission Changes for Supplemental Information Letters and Post Entry Amendments

7. CBP Directives

· 3510-004, Monetary Guidelines for Setting Bond Amounts
· Amendment to 3510-004 for Certain Merchandise Subject to Antidumping/Countervailing Duty Cases
· 3550-055, Instructions for Deriving Manufacturer/Shipper Identification
· 3550-067, Entry Summary Acceptance and Rejection
· 3550-079A, Ultimate Consignee at time of Entry or Release
· 3560-001A, Census Interface-Processing Procedures
· 5610-002A, Standard Guidelines for the Input of Names and Addresses Into Automated Commercial System (ACS) Files

Note: The use of any versions of the listed references other than those recommended is at the applicant's own risk.

Seeing this list of resources on paper and as a stack of documents on your desk can seem quite overwhelming, but don't worry. We’ll discuss organization of your materials in an upcoming article. Stay tuned to the Boskage Trade News for more helpful hints on studying for the Customs Broker Exam! The next article will cover the second category of exam resources, the “Exam Study Aids”. We also welcome any suggestions on topics you would like to see discussed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

CBP Proposes Elimination of Substantial Transformation Rule

On Friday, July 25, the Federal Register contained a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR), which proposes to eliminate the use of substantial transformation as one of the two methods for determining origin of imported goods.

Under the current regulations, there are two primary methods that CBP uses to determine the country of origin of imported goods that are processed in, or contain materials from, more than one country. One method provides for case-by-case adjudication to determine whether goods have been “substantially transformed'' in a particular country. The other method uses the codified rules in 19 CFR Part 102 , also known as the “tariff shift rules”, which also determine whether a good has been “substantially transformed'' by assessing changes in tariff classification.

CBP proposes to apply the Part 102 rules to future free trade agreements. This change will also affect many of the current free trade agreements such as GSP, CBERA and the AGOA; however, these rules will not be applied where current agreements specify another origin test for determining origin. Since use of FTA’s are often complex, please consult the notice in the Federal Register for more detail concerning these changes

CBP believes that the use of one codified standard will result in more objective uniform country of origin determinations instead of the subjective determinations that have resulted from the use of substantial transformation rules.

Comments related to this notice must be received on or before September 23, 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-2007-0100


Trade and Commercial Regulations Branch
Regulations and Rulings, Office of International Trade

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., (Mint Annex)

Washington, DC 20229.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CBP Posts Notice of Exam for October 2008

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has posted a notice to its web site announcing the October 2008 Customs Broker License Exam. The exam will be held on Monday, October 6, 2008 and applications (CBP 3124E) to take the exam must be received on or before Friday, September 5, 2008. Please note the important information about the following references.

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2008 version – Supplement 1)
Questions on the exam were written using the 2007 HTSUS. It is important to use this edition since questions often require the determination of the correct HTS number, duty rate and applicability of Free Trade Agreements, all of which may change slightly from year to year.

Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations (revised as of April 1, 2007) (Parts 1 - 199)(No Supplements)
Questions on the exam were written using the 2007 CBP Regulations. However, anybody with the 2006 Regulations can use that book if it contains the updates through April 2007 (5th update).

CBP did not delete any of the supplemental materials listed from the April 2008 exam or add any new ones. The complete list of reference texts along with specific instructions for application to take the exam can be found on the CBP web site.

Note: CBP added the C-TPAT Minimum Security Criteria for Customs Brokers (3-20-2007) to the list of reference materials for the April 2008 exam and asked five questions related to that document. Be sure to read the C-TPAT document thoroughly and review the questions from the April Exam!

It’s time to get ready for the next Customs Broker Exam! Click HERE for a complete list of our study plans and products designed to help you study and pass the exam! As always, the only way to guarantee that you receive the correct editions prior to the Notice of Exam posting is the get the Required Testing Material package through Boskage. Don’t forget to visit the Boskage Trade News Blog for additional for import/export news updates, articles about specific trade topics and helpful posts related the Customs Broker Exam!