On Friday, June 23, 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) released its final rule requiring continuing education for licensed individual customs brokers. CBP anticipates that “by requiring individual customs brokers to remain knowledgeable about recent developments in customs and related laws as well as international supply chains” it will “enhance professionalism and competency within the customs broker community.”
Under the new regulations, individual customs brokers will be required to complete 36 continuing education credits every triennial period. CBP states that importers can obtain credits by “attending or presenting at accredited events,” online or in-person, “such as courses, seminars, symposia and conventions.” One credit is earned for each hour of continuous education, and CBP will allow for the recognition of half-credits as the smallest unit of continuing education. CBP will not permit credits to carry over from one triennial period into the following triennial period.
All continuing education must be administered by a government agency or a CBP-selected accreditor. A list of CBP-selected accreditors will be announced on CBP’s website with details on “every training and educational activity accredited by that accreditor.” Individual customs brokers will be required to self-report the completion of their continuing education credits at the end of every triennial period and maintain records from the provider or host of the qualifying event, in addition to the dates, titles, providers, credit hours earned, and location for each training. CBP maintains the right to conduct a records request from any individual customs broker following the submission of their triennial status report.
In the final rule, CBP makes clear that the new regulations apply to individual customs brokers, with two notable exceptions. The continuing education requirement will not apply to (1) customs brokers that have not held a customs broker license for the entirety of the triennial period, and (2) customs brokers that have voluntarily suspended their customs brokers licenses in accordance with 19 CFR § 111.52. If an individual customs broker “has not held an active customs broker license for an entire triennial period or is reactivating a license that was voluntarily suspended,” they will be required to complete a prorated number of credits. Corporate customs broker license holders are not required to fulfill the continuing education credits.
The triennial period will end on January 31 and begin on February 1st every three years, which will coincide 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 begin on February 1, 2024, and end on January 31, 2027. CBP will not require the full 36 credits in the initial triennial period and CBP will publish the precise number of required education hours for the initial period in a future Federal Register Notice. However, individual customs brokers will be required to complete the full 36 credits starting the triennial period that begins on February 1, 2027.
Failure to report and certify compliance with CBP’s continuing education requirement may result in written letters of warning, which could ultimately progress to more punitive measures such as license suspension or revocation.