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CBLE Results

The October 2023 CBLE (Customs Broker License Exam) resulted in a 34% pass rate prior to appeal decisions. Previous pass rate information is listed below. 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. The process can be lengthy so be patient.

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.

Pass Rate Information

The October 25, 2023 CBLE resulted in a 34% pass rate prior to appeal decisions.

The April 26, 2023 CBLE resulted in a 5.5% pass rate prior to appeal decisions. 

The October 26, 2022 CBLE resulted in a 11.1% pass rate prior to appeal decisions. 

Scot Snyder Government Logistics | Talent Mentoring | Troops2Logistics | Recruiting | US Army Veteran & Advocate |

That’s a high pass rate. I hope it’s the same or higher in April. Thanks for sharing Mitch Kostoulakos,

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

As Mike Smiszek pointed out the exam questions now have 4 answers to choose from vs 5 in previous exams. This means less time needed to consider answers. Also if forced to guess you have a 1 in 4 chance vs 1 in 5. May have been a contributing factor to the higher pass rate. 34% is still low compared to other licensing exams.…

Mike SmiszekView Senior Trade Compliance Advisor at Braumiller Consulting Group

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB Thanks for sharing this pass rate data. Though we’ll never know for sure, I’ll bet the pass rate was boosted by the question format change. It will be interesting to follow the pass-rate trend over the next few years (if CBP sticks with the four-answer format).

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

Mike Smiszek Yes it will be interesting. I’m never sure if I should encourage others to take the exam and put in all that effort with such low pass rate,

Heads Up Customs Brokers-Annual Permit User Fee

The annual user fee for each national permit held by a customs broker, whether it may be an individual, partnership, association, or corporation, is due no later than February 9, 2024.

The customs broker permit user fee payable for calendar year 2024 will be $174.80. CBP is also announcing that customs brokers may pay the fee electronically via the electronic Customs and Border Protection (eCBP) portal.

LinkedIn Comment- Infrastructure

Ken Davis • Regional Vice President of Sales at Omni Logistics

I don’t normally wade into to these issues but, this is important ! Everything you have in your home, business, manufacturing plant, eat and drink comes in on a truck. Those of us that drive everyday know, our roads are in need of repair, bridges need to be rebuilt, infrastructure needs a lot of work. We need safe places for our road drivers to layover and get fuel, eat and shower. We need safe bridges. We need better software at our airports to handle the flights. We need modern equipment at our ports to bring us into the 21st century! 

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

Thanks for a great post…a few points to consider:
1) Infrastructure does not get better with age and can’t fix itself.
2) Spending on infrastructure is an investment. It provides good paying jobs and wages will be spent in local economies. Recycle the dollars.
3) It can be done. Visit any EU country and compare the roads, airports, etc to the US. They are way ahead of us.

Let’s Go Chiefs

C- Level executives, perhaps you have been “looking the other way” when it comes to export compliance. If you are lucky there have been no consequences for this negligence. Why not start off 2024 with a little executive action and move your organization towards compliance?

While a complete Export Compliance Program is the ideal solution, you may not be ready to commit the resources needed at this time. However, there are some steps that can be implemented immediately at little cost.

Here are a few best practices to help you get started :

1) Review and confirm correct Harmonized Tariff and Schedule B codes and maintain master list as updates occur. Proper classification follows established protocols and is the starting place for compliance.

2) Check Export Administration Regulations (EAR) for correct ECCN and license exception codes. Are you automatically using EAR99 and NLR? can help.

3) Confirm Country of Origin for all imports. This info is needed for your Commercial Invoice and is not always obvious, so consider consulting a Licensed Customs Broker.

4) Check common “Red Flags” such as denied parties lists, entities lists, and unverified lists. Once again, provides details and training.

5) Review export documentation for possible improvements.

Make export compliance a front-end process, not a last minute shipping function. Remember, while Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) are valued partners, the exporter bears primary responsibility for compliance. Finally, if exporting under ITAR you need a responsible trained officer.

Contact for immediate assistance.

Prepare for CARM

If you are a Canadian importer or NRI (Non-Resident Importer) you will want to get up to speed on CARM, which will be fully implemented in May, 2024.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) project is a multi-year digital initiative that will change how CBSA collects duties and taxes for goods imported into Canada. Through CARM, the CBSA will modernize and streamline the process of importing commercial goods.

CARM is relevant to US exporters because many of them act as Non-Resident Importers (NRIs) in Canada. A Non-Resident Importer (NRI) is a business located outside of Canada that ships goods to customers in Canada and assumes responsibility for customs clearance and other import-related requirements.

Before May 2024, importers and other trade chain partners need to register and adapt their systems and business practices. At first glance the process appears daunting. However, CBSA has provided plenty of resources, including webinars and a detailed user guide:

Most importers and NRIs will engage their Canadian customs broker for help with CARM. While this is a good idea, CBSA makes it very clear that:

  • Importers need to register their businesses and delegate a business account manager in CARM as soon as possible. 
  • Customs brokers need to get their clients to register and may need new software. 
  • If you are a trade consultant, find out what you need to do to be able to advise clients.

The CARM on-boarding steps are:

  1. Obtain Business Number. Current importers and NRIs will already have a BN.
  2. Create CARM account portal.
  3. Link user account with business account.
  4. Grant access to employees or representatives.
  5. Conduct business with CBSA.

Here are a few pro tips from a recent CBSA webinar:

  • During initial set up select a Sign-In Partner or create a GC key. The Sign-In Partner option allows users to log in through the web portal of their financial service provider. Sign-In Partners are financial institutions and banks that have partnered with Secure Key Technologies to enable their customers to use their online credentials to log in to other secure sites. A GC Key is a unique credential that protects your communications with online Government programs and services.
  • Users have the option set up multi-factor authorization, a personal profile, and preferences.
  • Register a BAM (Business Account Manager) in the CARM portal. CBSA recommends at least 2 BAMs to ensure account access in the event of staff changes.
  • Request a Statement of Account from customs brokers to answer any questions about transactions during on-boarding process. The CARM portal will bring all info together.
  • Decide delegation of authority to employees, customs brokers, consultants, etc.

This article is a brief overview of CARM and will, hopefully, help importers and NRIs start the process with time to spare before May, 2024. I have always found the CBSA website to be user friendly and strongly recommend consulting it for research.

LinkedIn Post- 3PLs

Here is a link to my post about managing 3PLs.

What’s Your ECCN ?

One of the key elements in export compliance is the ECCN, or Export Control Classification Number. In order to determine if a license is needed for your exports it is first necessary to determine the ECCN for your commodity. As noted in previous posts, many exporters automatically enter EAR99 and NLR on shipping documents. This is a mistake unless you have done due diligence on your products.

Violations of the Export Administration Regulations, 15 C.F.R. Parts 730-774 (EAR) may be subject to both criminal and administrative penalties. Under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (50 U.S.C. §§ 4801-4852) (ECRA), criminal penalties can include up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $1 million in fines per violation, or both. Violators may also be subject to the denial of their export privileges.

EAR99 indicates that a commodity is subject to Export Administration Regulations but is not specifically listed on the Commodity Control List (CCL). NLR states that no license is required.

ECCN can be determined by consulting with manufacturers of products, filing a classification request with BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security), or self classifying.

Don’t guess; confirm your ECCN. Here are a couple of easy to use resources:

Contact for assistance.

Customs Purgatory

I often hear from frustrated importers or exporters about shipments “stuck” in customs. The shipments may include critical parts needed for an equipment or plant shutdown, expensive high tech components not generally carried in inventory, or medical instruments for hospitals. Delayed orders also mean delayed payments, which gets everyone’s attention.

In many cases the delay is compounded by simple communication issues. Importer of record (IOR) contact info is often lacking on the commercial invoice. Customs in the importing country will not contact the exporter if they have questions or concerns. If they are unable to contact the IOR the shipment will go into storage. Make sure you include recipient name, address, phone number, and e mail address on your CI.

The CI is the most critical document for customs purposes. The data used in customs entries comes directly from the commercial invoice for the transaction. All countries have different, and sometimes obscure, customs regulations. It is true, however, that most delays are caused by a few commercial invoice errors or omissions.

Commodity descriptions should answer the questions: What is it? What is it made of? What is it used for? Use plain language which can be understood by anyone. Avoid trade names, brand names, or part numbers in the description. These can be added below the description or to the packing list if needed. If using a harmonized code it is best to enter only the first 6 digits, which are universal. All countries apply their own last 4 or more digits.

Contact for immediate assistance.

Value for customs may appear to be too low for the commodity being shipped. The customs agencies in the destination country need to make sure that duty rates are accurate and will hold up the shipment if in doubt. Make sure that your commercial invoice reflects the correct transaction value.

Logistics and Finance

While logistics managers excel in orchestrating the flow of goods from Point A to Point B, they typically tread on less certain ground when it comes to financial matters. Logistics managers with operations backgrounds and responsibilities typically leave finance to the accountants. But this gap in financial acumen can be a hindrance in the ever-evolving world of supply chain management. Logistics managers with at least a basic understanding of the financial aspects of the supply chain will be better positioned to improve their business operations.

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