How to Get Your Start in U.S Customs Brokerage

An aspiring customs broker finds out that he passed the customs exam

For most of the U.S population, customs brokerage is not a major talking point. In fact, customs brokerage is an industry that drives a nation but works in the background, like how the electrical wiring in your home is hidden but essential. For the few that think about brokerage, it can be a complex, exciting, and fulfilling job that opens up new ideas and perspectives. If you’re one of those people that find brokerage fascinating, we’ll take you through what you need to break into the customs brokerage industry.

Basic Requirements

According to U.S Customs and Border Protection, you’ll need to meet three eligibility requirements before you can become a customs broker. The three requirements include:

  • Be a U.S citizen 21 years of age or over
  • Not be a current federal employee
  • Possess good moral character

So if you’re old enough for a Bud Light, don’t work for the government, and aren’t a member of the mafia, you’re probably eligible to be a broker. Some companies prefer a bachelor’s degree, but it’s not required. This just covers eligibility; actually becoming a customs broker involves a few more steps.

Becoming A Certified Customs Broker

If you’re eligible, then the next step is to pass the Customs Broker License Exam. Before you freak out about the test, it’s an open book exam, so you needn’t stress about memorizing everything you’ll need to know. As far as what the test will go over, you can expect to see these topics:

  • The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)
  • Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations
  • Specified Customs Directives
  • Customs and Trade Automated Interface Requirements document (CATAIR)

These are the basics for a customs broker, so make sure to internalize all of this information. The test is four and a half hours long, and there is a $390 fee that needs to be paid a month in advance. If you receive a 75 percent or higher on the exam, congrats! You can move on to the next step, which is getting your customs broker license. Get ready to shell out another $200 for that, and to wait a while for background checks. Credit reports, arrest records, character references will all need to be reviewed before you are cleared. In the meantime, learn as much as you can about being a customs broker.

If you have any questions about customs brokerage or want to join our team, Cordova Brokerage can help. Contact us today for more information!

The Quick and Dirty of ISF in 2019: What You Need to Know

 

Container ship carrying container for import and export, business logistic and transportation by container ship in Atlantic ocean headed for America

If you’re reading this, you probably know that the world of import and export can be full of confusing information, especially in the current trade climate. ISF is no exception, and has gone through a number of changes since its inception in 2009. At Cordova Brokerage, we have an intimate understanding of ISF rules and guidelines, and wanted to give you a quick overview of how ISF has changed over the decade. 

ISF Overview

First, ISF stands for Importer Security Filing, which is simply a filing that details when, where, and how you plan to import goods into the United States. The ISF is usually referenced as a “10+2”, which refers to the information that the importer and carrier have to provide to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Below are the 10 pieces of data required from the importer, and the 2 required by the carrier: 

  1. Manufacturer (or supplier) name and address
  2. Seller (or owner) name and address
  3. Buyer (or owner) name and address
  4. Ship-to name and address
  5. Container stuffing location
  6. Consolidator (stuffer) name and address
  7. Importer of record number/foreign trade zone applicant identification number
  8. Consignee number(s)
  9. Country of origin
  10. Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number to six (6) digits

From the carrier:

  1. Vessel stow plan
  2. Container status messages

This information is largely non-negotiable, and has to be received by CBP no later than 24hrs before the goods are set to leave for the United States, and you can be subject to significant fines if the information is not filed on time or appropriately. That is why we at Cordova Brokerage specialize in ISF, because it can be a complicated and costly process if not done correctly. 

Quick History of the ISF

The ISF was first conceived of in late 2008, as a way to more accurately track the flow of goods into the U.S. It was part of the SAFE Port Act, a bill that was signed into law under the Bush administration to bolster maritime trade security and record keeping. The ISF was a pursuant of this bill, but full finings didn’t begin until 2016. Now non-compliance can cost several thousand dollars, which will certainly eat away at any potential profits that exporting/importing can reap. Recently, as of May of 2018, the definition of an ISF Importer was broadened to include non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs), and also to be the goods’ owner, purchaser, consignee or agent. It is important to keep up to date on all the changes to ISF, and we at Cordova Brokerage are bonafide experts when it comes to ISF and shipping. Call us today if you would like more information on filing, or would like to use our services for your goods and cargo. 

CTPAT & CBP: What Security Guidelines Do I Need to Follow?

importing and exporting across the globeWhen it comes to importing and exporting goods, there are certain guidelines you should follow that ensure the safety of you, other importers, and the countries to which you are importing and exporting. By following these guidelines, you can rest assured knowing you are taking the safest route and making the safest decisions when it comes to importing goods. While these guidelines put a focus on both importing and exporting, they are especially important when importing to the United States. In fact, most are required by the governing institution that has put them in place.

At Cordova Brokerage International, we are dedicated to upholding and enforcing strict security and safety guidelines, and we try to ensure that all of our trade partners and the importer clients we work with do so as well. We don’t do this because we are picky or selective but because we want to ensure that safety is kept at all times.

Who Sets These Guidelines?

These safety and security guidelines are set by two governing organizations: the United States Customs and Border Protection agency and the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. These two organizations work to keep our borders and the rest of the United States safe, something that should be on the minds of any importer importing from other countries.

At Cordova Brokerage International, we are CTPAT certified, so you can rest assured knowing we take the necessary steps to help protect our country from acts of terror.

Security Guidelines for Trailers and Containers

Part of ensuring safety when importing is knowing how to properly load trailers and containers while adhering to the guidelines set by the CBP. These guidelines include:

  • Following the seven-point inspection process for empty trailers and containers coming through the borders
  • Following the 17-point inspection process for loaded tractors and trailers

While this may seem like a lot, it is absolutely necessary (and also required) in order to maintain our safety. The last thing we want is for what should be a successful import from another country to turn into something that neither country wants. By following these guidelines, you are doing your part in ensuring that every import and export is safely given and received.

Contact Cordova Brokerage International Today!

If you’re in the business of importing and exporting, working with a customs broker can help make going through customs easier by ensuring you are meeting all the guidelines set forth by the CBP and CTPAT. By working with Cordova Brokerage International, you can make the customs process much simpler for your business. Call us today to learn more!

Why Might I Need Warehouse Services?

warehousingIn a perfect world, we wouldn’t need warehouse services. But this is far from a perfect world, and the unexpected seems to always happen. And what kind of world would this be if we didn’t have any delays? We live in a delay-ridden world where the unexpected happens and we have to prepare for whatever that unexpected thing is, and usually, that means needing to get warehousing for the goods we are importing and exporting internationally. The last thing you want is to have nowhere to store them while going through customs, especially if this process takes longer than usual (and it already takes a while). Having a warehouse to store your goods where you know they’ll be safe from damage, theft, and spoiling is a good way to obtain peace of mind.

Here are a few reasons why obtaining warehouse services from us here at Cordova Brokerage International, in addition to our many other imports and exports brokerage services, is a good idea.

#1: Unexpected Customs Delays

Relations and going through customs these days are always changing and quite unexpected. You never know when or why there might be a delay with trying to get through customs. The last thing you want is for your imports to be stolen, damaged, or go rotten while waiting for you to get through customs. Our warehouse services provide you with a reliable place to store your items just in case of unexpected customs delays.

#2: Poor Weather

You never know when the weather might strike and leave you stranded while trying to make it through customs. Whether it’s a bad winter storm, dust storm, or thunderstorm, you want a place that’ll keep your valuables safe from the harmful effects of the weather. That’s exactly what you get with our comprehensive warehouse services.

Always Stay Protected

Life, especially if you work in the business of importing and exporting goods internationally, is unexpected. You always want to stay protected and prepared for whatever life hands you, especially in this kind of business. One way to do so is to work with a brokerage firm like us to help you get through customs more smoothly and to give you a safe place to store your goods.

Call Cordova Brokerage International Today!

If you’re in need of reliable and dependable international brokering services, Cordova Brokerage International is the place to call. Contact us today so we can help you!