Got Humans?

As all logistics professionals know, problem solving is a big part of the job. My clients are mostly small or medium sized firms working with minimal staffs, so I frequently assist them in resolving service issues.

We engage with a variety of LSPs (Logistics Service Providers) including freight forwarders, carriers, integrators, and customs brokers. Most have automated systems for efficiency and cost control purposes. LSPs invest heavily in technological solutions and this is a major determinant in selecting a provider. When looking for a status update or answer to a simple question these systems are fine. Self service can be frustrating, though, when the problem is not easily described, and is of no use for more complex issues. Examples are customs delays, re-routing of shipments, special pricing, or real emergencies. Information is easier to get than action.

Solving problems on the spot is what defines great customer service. Reaching a human being requires patience and many times that person is simply reading from a script. If I haven’t been able to solve the problem on-line then I need someone with the ability and authority to resolve the issue. It seems that as logistics providers invest in technology they are disinvesting in human customer service.

LSPs, don’t force your clients to dump problems on their account rep or e mail the CEO. A few key people in customer service roles with the authority to fix problems on the spot will earn you a lot of customer loyalty.

Got Character?

Congratulations to all who passed the April 2023 Customs Broker License Exam! You are now eligible to go through the application process, background check, and fingerprinting to obtain your license.

It may come as a surprise that the entire process can take months before you receive your license. In addition to a passing grade on the CBLE, eligibility to become a customs broker requires applicants to be a US citizen at least 21 years of age, not be a current Federal Government employee, and possess good moral character.

Character is determined by an extensive background investigation:

Each broker license applicant must undergo a background investigation that includes a fingerprint analysis and a review of character references, credit reports, and any arrest record. Arrests or convictions do not necessarily preclude the issuance of a license.

Licensed Customs Brokers, via their entry filings, are responsible for the assessment of revenue for the United States in the form of duties and taxes. They must also ensure that they, and their clients, comply with the laws and regulations in all transactions. So the background check is more than a mere formality. Be patient applicants!

CBLE Results

The April 2023 CBLE (Customs Broker License Exam) resulted in a 5.5% pass rate prior to appeal decisions. This rate is much lower that the previous two exams (11.1% in October 2022 and 39.6% in April 2022). I continue to wonder if low pass rates are what CBP wants. The exam and answer key are posted on the CBP website.

Congratulations to all who passed ! You are now eligible to go through the application process, background check, and fingerprinting to obtain your license.

Many brokers have needed more than one try, so don’t be discouraged if you came up short. If you want to challenge any of the questions here is the link explaining how to appeal.

Heads Up Importers

Importers, if you have been relying on your suppliers for HTS classifications of your products check this September 2022 CBP ruling. Briefly, it states that suppliers are not qualified to provide HTS classifications unless they employ LCBs, even with a disclaimer that the information is advisory.

Classifying goods for others is “customs business” and must be carried out by a licensed customs broker. Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1641(b)(1), “[n]o person may conduct customs business (other than solely on behalf of that person) unless that person holds a valid customs broker’s license . . . .”

H290535: Customs business and broker rules; HTSUS classification recommendations; disclaimers

LinkedIn Comment- LCB Value

(ICPA INC) International Compliance Professionals Association, Inc.Ned Blinick

A while ago I participated in a webinar with Dan Gardner about whether the Customs Broker was, or would soon be obsolete. Dan argued the negative that the Customs Broker is like a spouse, and only under extreme circumstances and duress would an #importer divorce its Customs Broker. I argued the positive. Dan won the debate.

Mitch Kostoulakos, Ad Hoc Logistics LLC, Int’l Logistics Consultant/Licensed Customs Broker

As Dan points out in the article LCBs do more than file entries. The value is in having a qualified, credentialed advisor. When I have a legal question I ask a lawyer. For a tax issue I want a CPA.