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What Does it Take to be a US Customs Broker?

They don’t let just anyone be US Customs Brokers. They are federal employees, so the screening process is federal-level intense. You have to pass a number of qualifications, just to register for the test. Learn them below.

  • Be at least 21 years old

  • Not be a current Federal employee

  • Be a US citizen

  • Have good moral character and be willing to have people testify to it

  • Be willing to be fingerprinted

  • Pay the $390 test registration fee

If you passed all of the above, congratulations. You’re qualified to start the US customs brokers licensing test.

The Test

The CBLE or Customs Broker Licensing Exam is 80 questions long. You get four and a half hours to take it and it’s open book. The test has questions about four different topics. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States of America, Title 19 regulations, specified customs directions and the Customs and Trade Automated Interface Requirements Document.

You are allowed to bring a copy of each of these materials to the exam to reference since you’re not going to memorize every tariff schedule even as an active broker. The test occurs at contracted test sites nationwide and as of last year, occurs on the last wednesday in both April and October.


From April 2017:

“ Top Dawg imported seven ball bearings with integral shafts from Germany, which are classified under subheading 8482.10.10, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, at a 2.4% ad valorem duty rate and subject to antidumping duties. The ball bearings are shipped by air and formally entered at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The total value of the shipment is $9,875.00. The applicable antidumping duty case deposit rate is 68.89%. What are the total amount of fees and estimated duties that should be reported on the CBP Form 7501? “

A. $237.00

B. $7,039.89

C. $7,074.10

D. $6,837.10

E. $6,802.89

You’ll need at least a 75 to pass. The government posts practice exams from past years on their website. Successful test takers encourage potential brokers to use those as study materials as well as indexing their test-day documents for quick reference. IF you pass the exam, you’ll pay a $200 licensing fee along with a separate charge for fingerprinting.

Once you have your letter of approval, you can apply to active ports for three years. Keep in mind that applications themselves take 8-12 months to process. If you’re approved and secure a position, you can expect to make a salary in the range of 37,460 to 115,990 a year. The US median is $68,170.

Being a US Customs broker isn’t for everyone. You have to have high-level organizational skills, be detailed oriented, and not be afraid of numbers. It’s an interesting job and you’ll never be bored. What do you think, is it the right path for you?

Example Question Answer: C

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