How do I Become a Customs Broker?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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The training required in order to become a customs broker varies from country to country. Within the United States, all eligible candidates must be licensed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. In Canada, all brokers must be licensed by the Canada Border Service Agency. Different countries in Europe have different tests and licensing requirements, as do other countries across the globe. The best way to determine how to become a customs broker in your country is to visit your government's website.

Universally, there are some character traits that any person must possess in order to become a customs broker. Since brokers facilitate the movement of goods in and out of a country, it is important that any broker be well-versed when it comes to communication. Not only do brokers have to work with various government agencies, but these individuals must also work with demanding customers who often have tight deadlines in-mind.

Customs brokers must also be able to handle a vast amount of stress relatively well. Within the brokerage world, it is not uncommon for problems to arise at the last minute. Therefore, you must be able to think quickly and precisely. Brokers who speak a variety of different languages are often in-demand, since goods come from a number of countries across the globe. Even though any broker must possess all of these character traits, none of these traits can be learned overnight.


Prior to attempting to gain a brokerage license, it is a wise idea to seek an apprenticeship with a customs brokerage firm. There are a number of different firms spread across the world, and many of these companies will hire new college graduates. Rarely do brokerage firms hire people who do not have college training, though this is not always the case. By gaining experience within a brokerage firm, you will have a better chance of learning how to become a customs broker on an individual level.

Once all necessary licensing exams have been successfully completed, you can become a customs broker in your country. Keep in mind that you may need additional licenses in order to operate as a broker in other countries. A person who chooses to become a customs broker must have all the attributes listed above in addition to proper hands-on training. Those people who are successful in this field often find the position of a customs broker rewarding and lucrative.


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Post 4

@allenJo - I’m afraid that I don’t think well on my feet, so I wouldn’t be cut out for this kind of a job. You can make mistakes that will cost you a lot of money or let shipments go through that should have been stopped at port of harbor.

The worst scenario I can envision is if you let something in that turned out to have some contraband substance. Of course I realize that this is the job of the customs agent, not the broker, to do that kind of inspection, but still, as the shipping agent you bear some responsibility for knowing what stuff gets transported to another country. I wouldn’t be able to handle the stress myself.

Post 3

My friend owns an Indonesian import business. He imports a lot of exotic furniture like teak wood and antique desks. It’s a very profitable business for him, and of course he often has to travel to far flung regions of that country to find the best deals.

He has some customs brokers that he works with who make the job easier for him. Even though he speaks the language, he is not well versed in the law, and they can often help him clear the goods easily.

Just as importantly, they take care of the shipments for him and get him the best possible rates on fees that are incurred.

Post 2

@Mutsy - I have many friends that work in this field and they all possess an attention to detail along with an adaptable personality because things do go wrong in this business and those that work well in the industry know how to handle the pressure that they may be faced with when they don't meet a client's deadline.

Many customers of the customs broker have to move their cargo out of customs by a certain date, but if there is a problem with the paperwork the shipment just sits there and every day that the shipment sits at customs the more money the company loses because they can't sell their goods.

Also if someone makes a mistake and enters something incorrectly, this can also delay the shipment from getting out of customs. This is why most major corporations only work with established custom brokers that they trust because a mishap can cost a lot of money.

Post 1

My husband started out as a licensed customs broker and now he is a Vice President of Customs Compliance for his company. It is really a dynamic field that can be stressful at times. My husband took some courses in college to prepare for the exam which is really hard.

Most people do not pass it the first time that they take it. He was able to pass the exam the first time that he took it and was really successful in the field. The thing to remember is that when you consider becoming a customs broker is that your license is on the line when you represent an office or company. If a mistake is made with regard to customs regulations your office will be fined a lot of money.The custom broker's license is issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

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