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How to Become a US Customs Broker

Are you looking to expand your current position in the import and export field? Maybe you are interested in starting a new career in this area. Becoming a custom broker can be very rewarding, challenging and will require constant learning.

Becoming a licensed customs broker can open many doors for you for employment opportunities. However, there is a lot of information you need to know. Let’s take a closer look at what is required of you.

What is a Customs Broker?

As a US customs broker, you can expect to have a solid understanding of importing and exporting. It will be your responsibility to clear shipments being sent and ensure all the items being shipped meet the regulations.

You will need to file all the necessary paperwork for these shipped items to all the government agencies. You will act as a liaison between the importer, the exporter and the government.

How To Get Started

If you already work in the import and export area, you are ahead of the game. You need to be a US citizen, not be employed by the federal government and be of good moral standing.

If you don’t know much about importing and exporting, you will need to study these. There are customs broker classes and courses you can take and also government-issued materials for you to study.

Education Required

Having established knowledge of importing and exporting will be needed. This included a thorough understanding of entry procedures and requirements, valuation, any fines and penalties that may be brought, classification, and all the rates, duty, taxes and fees for imported goods. If you don’t know anything about these laws, you can take a course or several courses to become familiar with them.

You may also want to consider some type of entry-level employment in the importing and exporting area, to help you become familiar with the laws, the procedures and terminology. Hands-on tends to be the best way to learn the ropes.

The Broker’s Exam Course

Preparing to take the customs broker exam requires a solid course to help you learn all the information. There are courses offered online so you can work at your own pace. There will also be help available around the clock.

You will learn all about the rules and regulations involved, all the forms and requirements, valid codes, metric conversion, pitfalls to watch for and all the ongoing updates to the laws.

The exam is only given twice a year and if you don’t pass it, you are allowed to continue to take it until you do pass. Expect questions regarding rules and laws, but also real-life scenarios that may occur while on the job.

Getting Your License

Once you have passed the exam, you then need to apply for a broker’s licence. Once you submit your application, you will be investigated for a criminal record, any credit issues and character references will also be required.

The application must also be approved by the Customs Border Patrol (CBP). They will do their own investigation similar to the government one. A CBP port director will forward a recommendation to CBP headquarters. There, the Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, will let you know if your application is approved or not.


You should expect the entire procedure to take up to a year to be completed. When you are fully prepared and knowledgeable, then passing the customs broker exam on the first try will cut down the time.

The background checks, the fees need to be processed, and all areas need to complete their own investigation. Depending on a backlog of applicants, this can take a few months.

Once You Are Licensed

Many exciting opportunities are waiting for a licenced customs broker. Many specialize in a certain area, meaning they focus on a particular item being shipped or a particular task.

You can work in many different areas, including different places in the country. You can also use your skills to educate people who are looking to become custom brokers themselves.

Becoming a custom broker will open up many doors for you and your career opportunities. Make a comfortable living and continue to learn and expand and share your knowledge.

Following our program fully will get you your customs broker license! 

We also have a wide variety of courses to offer; seminars, webinars, on-demand, and private sessions are available. Feel free to contact us for more information or to enroll for the Customs Broker Prep Course or in any of our classes. We have first-hand knowledge and trained, experienced professionals to help you get the best education and help you get started in the right direction.


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