Appealing the CBLE

I’m always interested in hearing from those who have taken the CBLE (Customs Broker License Exam). If you took the exam on April 27th you will be anxiously awaiting your results. You also know how difficult the exam is. Many brokers have needed more than one try, so don’t be discouraged if you come up short. If you want to challenge any of the questions here is the link explaining how to appeal.

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Freight Forwarding Challenges

Astronomical ocean rates, containers in the wrong locations, tight capacity in both trucking and air freight, and shortages of critical components. These are among the issues logistics managers have been dealing with for a couple of years now. It is often noted that supply chain is strategic while logistics is tactical. Day to day logistics consists of planning, execution, and problem solving. Right now it seems that the job is mostly problem solving. This certainly leads to frustration for all parties.

Changing forwarders or other LSPs (Logistics Service Providers) as a solution may be tempting but futile. LSPs are struggling to serve existing clients as best they can. Sales departments are always looking to grow their customer base and, at the same time, maintain existing accounts. Relationships are still the key ingredient and every LSP that I know is working diligently to manage their business.

Freight forwarders are intermediaries and have relationships of their own with ocean and air carriers. The strength of these relationships gives them the bandwidth to provide service to importers and exporters. They work with but don’t control overall capacity and rates.

Many of my posts are about compliance. While responsibility for compliance remains with the USPPI, LSPs can be a valuable resource. Expertise in compliance and documentation is certainly important but first they need to be able to move the freight.

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Check Your Boilerplate

The term boilerplate refers to standardized text, copy, documents, methods, or procedures that may be used over again without making major changes to the original. A boilerplate is commonly used for efficiency and to increase standardization in the structure and language of written or digital documents.

Traders when was the last time you reviewed your Commercial Invoice for accuracy or updates? Chances are it has been quite a while, given the more immediate challenges in logistics today. The same question applies to documents produced by your freight forwarder. Checking your CIs for accuracy is a best practice and can help reduce customs delays. Reviewers with “fresh eyes” are an even better idea.

While there is no universal standard format for commercial invoices, including the following key elements will help reduce customs delays and entry mistakes:

Description of goods – Vague or incomplete descriptions are the most common cause of customs delays. Avoid trade names, brand names, jargon. What is it? What is it made of? What is it used for?

Recipient or Importer of Record contact info- customs delays are often prolonged by slow communication between CBP and importers or between exporters and customs agencies in other countries. Make sure phone and e mail info is spelled out on the CI.

Invoice Number, Page Numbers – Avoids confusion for entries with multiple CIs or CIs with multiple pages.

Country of Origin– Best to use ISO country codes.

Related/Not Related parties

Incoterms and currency- these are elements of the sales contract. Indicate version of Incoterms (2010, 2020) as all parties may not be aware of updates.

Harmonized tariff code to the 6 digit level– if unsure best not to include this info.

Summary of Value- must include IV Invoice Value. Can also include NDC Non Dutiable Charge (subtractions), AMMV Add to Make Market Value (additions), NEV Net Entered Value (bottom line- dutiable).

For immediate assistance contact mitch@