United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Nov 30, 2023
No person may conduct customs business (other than solely on behalf of that person) unless that person holds a valid customs broker’s license issued by the Secretary under paragraph (2) or (3).
The Secretary may grant an individual a customs broker’s license only if that individual is a citizen of the United States. Before granting the license, the Secretary may require an applicant to show any facts deemed necessary to establish that the applicant is of good moral character and qualified to render valuable service to others in the conduct of customs business. In assessing the qualifications of an applicant, the Secretary may conduct an examination to determine the applicant’s knowledge of customs and related laws, regulations and procedures, bookkeeping, accounting, and all other appropriate matters.
The Secretary may grant a customs broker’s license to any corporation, association, or partnership that is organized or existing under the laws of any of the several States of the United States if at least one officer of the corporation or association, or one member of the partnership, holds a valid customs broker’s license granted under paragraph (2).
A customs broker shall exercise responsible supervision and control over the customs business that it conducts.
The failure of a customs broker that is licensed as a corporation, association, or partnership under paragraph (3) to have, for any continuous period of 120 days, at least one officer of the corporation or association, or at least one member of the partnership, validly licensed under paragraph (2) shall, in addition to causing the broker to be subject to any other sanction under this section (including paragraph (6)), result in the revocation by operation of law of its license.
Any person who intentionally transacts customs business, other than solely on the behalf of that person, without holding a valid customs broker’s license granted to that person under this subsection shall be liable to the United States for a monetary penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each such transaction as well as for each violation of any other provision of this section. This penalty shall be assessed in the same manner and under the same procedures as the monetary penalties provided for in subsection (d)(2)(A).
The failure of a customs broker granted a permit under paragraph (1) to employ, for any continuous period of 180 days, at least one individual who is licensed under subsection (b)(2) within the district or region (if paragraph (2) applies) for which a permit was issued shall, in addition to causing the broker to be subject to any other sanction under this section (including any in subsection (d)), result in the revocation by operation of law of the permit.
Notwithstanding subsection (c)(1), upon the implementation by the Secretary under section 1413(b)(2) of this title of the component of the National Customs Automation Program referred to in section 1411(a)(2)(B) of this title, a licensed broker may appoint another licensed broker holding a permit in a customs district to act on its behalf as its subagent in that district if such activity relates to the filing of information that is permitted by law or regulation to be filed electronically. A licensed broker appointing a subagent pursuant to this paragraph shall remain liable for any and all obligations arising under bond and any and all duties, taxes, and fees, as well as any other liabilities imposed by law, and shall be precluded from delegating to a subagent such liability.
Unless action has been taken under subparagraph (B), the appropriate customs officer shall serve notice in writing upon any customs broker to show cause why the broker should not be subject to a monetary penalty not to exceed $30,000 in total for a violation or violations of this section. The notice shall advise the customs broker of the allegations or complaints against him and shall explain that the broker has a right to respond to the allegations or complaints in writing within 30 days of the date of the notice. Before imposing a monetary penalty, the customs officer shall consider the allegations or complaints and any timely response made by the customs broker and issue a written decision. A customs broker against whom a monetary penalty has been issued under this section shall have a reasonable opportunity under section 1618 of this title to make representations seeking remission or mitigation of the monetary penalty. Following the conclusion of any proceeding under section 1618 of this title, the appropriate customs officer shall provide to the customs broker a written statement which sets forth the final determination and the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which such determination is based.
The Secretary may settle and compromise any disciplinary proceeding which has been instituted under this subsection according to the terms and conditions agreed to by the parties, including but not limited to the reduction of any proposed suspension or revocation to a monetary penalty.
Notwithstanding section 1621 of this title, no proceeding under this subsection or subsection (b)(6) shall be commenced unless such proceeding is instituted by the appropriate service of written notice within 5 years from the date the alleged violation was committed; except that if the alleged violation consists of fraud, the 5-year period of limitation shall commence running from the time such alleged violation was discovered.
A customs broker, applicant, or other person directly affected may appeal any decision of the Secretary denying or revoking a license or permit under subsection (b) or (c), or revoking or suspending a license or permit or imposing a monetary penalty in lieu thereof under subsection (d)(2)(B), by filing in the Court of International Trade, within 60 days after the issuance of the decision or order, a written petition requesting that the decision or order be modified or set aside in whole or in part. A copy of the petition shall be transmitted promptly by the clerk of the court to the Secretary or his designee. In cases involving revocation or suspension of a license or permit or imposition of a monetary penalty in lieu thereof under subsection (d)(2)(B), after receipt of the petition, the Secretary shall file in court the record upon which the decision or order complained of was entered, as provided in section 2635(d) of title 28.
The court shall not consider any objection to the decision or order of the Secretary, or to the introduction of evidence or testimony, unless that objection was raised before the hearing officer in suspension or revocation proceedings unless there were reasonable grounds for failure to do so.
The findings of the Secretary as to the facts, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.
If any party applies to the court for leave to present additional evidence and the court is satisfied that the additional evidence is material and that reasonable grounds existed for the failure to present the evidence in the proceedings before the hearing officer, the court may order the additional evidence to be taken before the hearing officer and to be presented in a manner and upon the terms and conditions prescribed by the court. The Secretary may modify the findings of facts on the basis of the additional evidence presented. The Secretary shall then file with the court any new or modified findings of fact which shall be conclusive if supported by substantial evidence, together with a recommendation, if any, for the modification or setting aside of the original decision or order.
The commencement of proceedings under this subsection shall, unless specifically ordered by the court, operate as a stay of the decision of the Secretary except in the case of a denial of a license or permit.
If an appeal is not filed within the time limits specified in this section, the decision by the Secretary shall be final and conclusive. In the case of a monetary penalty imposed under subsection (d)(2)(B) of this section, if the amount is not tendered within 60 days after the decision becomes final, the license shall automatically be suspended until payment is made to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Secretary may prescribe such rules and regulations relating to the customs business of customs brokers as the Secretary considers necessary to protect importers and the revenue of the United States, and to carry out the provisions of this section, including rules and regulations governing the licensing of or issuance of permits to customs brokers, the keeping of books, accounts, and records by customs brokers, and documents and correspondence, and the furnishing by customs brokers of any other information relating to their customs business to any duly accredited officer or employee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Secretary may not prohibit customs brokers from limiting their liability to other persons in the conduct of customs business. For purposes of this subsection or any other provision of this chapter pertaining to recordkeeping, all data required to be retained by a customs broker may be kept on microfilm, optical disc, magnetic tapes, disks or drums, video files or any other electrically generated medium. Pursuant to such regulations as the Secretary shall prescribe, the conversion of data to such storage medium may be accomplished at any time subsequent to the relevant customs transaction and the data may be retained in a centralized basis according to such broker’s business system.
The Secretary may prescribe reasonable fees and charges to defray the costs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in carrying out the provisions of this section, including, but not limited to, a fee for licenses issued under subsection (b) and fees for any test administered by him or under his direction; except that no separate fees shall be imposed to defray the costs of an individual audit or of individual disciplinary proceedings of any nature.
The Secretary shall prescribe regulations setting forth the minimum standards for customs brokers and importers, including nonresident importers, regarding the identity of the importer that shall apply in connection with the importation of merchandise into the United States.
Any customs broker who fails to collect information required under the regulations prescribed under this subsection shall be liable to the United States, at the discretion of the Secretary, for a monetary penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each violation of those regulations and shall be subject to revocation or suspension of a license or permit of the customs broker pursuant to the procedures set forth in subsection (d). This penalty shall be assessed in the same manner and under the same procedures as the monetary penalties provided for in subsection (d)(2)(A).
The term “importer” means one of the parties qualifying as an importer of record under section 1484(a)(2)(B) of this title.