On Friday, June 23, 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) introduced a groundbreaking final rule mandating continuing education for individual customs brokers. This new requirement aims to boost professionalism and competency within the customs broker community by ensuring brokers remain up-to-date on recent developments in customs, related laws, and international supply chains.
Continuing Education Credit Requirements
Under the new regulations, licensed individual customs brokers must complete 36 continuing education credits during each triennial period. CBP outlines that these credits can be earned by attending or presenting at accredited events, both online and in-person. Examples of such events include courses, seminars, symposia, and conventions. Each hour of continuous education will earn brokers one credit, and CBP will even recognize half-credits as the smallest unit of continuing education. It’s important to note that credits cannot carry over from one triennial period to the next.
Accreditation and Reporting
To maintain the integrity of the continuing education process, CBP stipulates that all education must be administered by a government agency or a CBP-selected accreditor. A list of these CBP-selected accreditors will be made available on the CBP website, complete with details on every training and educational activity accredited by each accreditor.
Additionally, individual customs brokers are responsible for self-reporting their completed continuing education credits at the end of each triennial period. They must maintain records from the provider or host of each qualifying event, including dates, titles, providers, credit hours earned, and location of each training. CBP reserves the right to conduct records requests from any individual customs broker following the submission of their triennial status report.
Exceptions and Prorated Credits
While the new regulations apply to most individual customs brokers, there are two notable exceptions. The continuing education requirement does not apply to customs brokers who have not held a customs broker license for the entire triennial period. Similarly, brokers who voluntarily suspend their customs broker licenses in accordance with 19 CFR § 111.52 are exempt from this requirement. In situations where an individual customs broker has not held an active license or is reactivating a voluntarily suspended license, they will be required to complete a prorated number of credits. Corporate customs broker license holders are not subject to the continuing education credit requirements.
Triennial Period and Future Changes
The triennial period for continuing education will run from February 1 to January 31 every three years, coinciding with the due date of the triennial status reports. The first triennial period during which individual customs brokers must complete their continuing education credits will commence on February 1, 2024, and conclude on January 31, 2027. CBP clarified that the initial triennial period will not require the full 36 credits, and the precise number of required education hours will be published in a future Federal Register Notice. However, starting from the next triennial period beginning on February 1, 2027, all individual customs brokers will be expected to complete the full 36 credits.
Consequences of Non-Compliance
Non-compliance with CBP’s continuing education requirement can have serious consequences. Brokers who fail to report and certify their compliance may receive written letters of warning. If the non-compliance persists, more punitive measures such as license suspension or revocation could be imposed.
Seek Specialist Advice
While this blog provides a general guide to the subject matter, it’s important to seek specialist advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Understanding and adhering to the new continuing education requirements will ensure customs brokers stay current and maintain the highest level of professionalism and competency within the industry.