CBP announces 2020 customs broker license exam dates

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has set the dates for the two customs brokers license exams in 2020: April 1 and Oct. 8.

Traditionally, the agency has administered the test on the fourth Wednesday in April and October, unless the regularly scheduled test date conflicts with a national or religious holiday.

“Due to the limited availability of testing sites and to ensure the integrity of exam conditions by preventing commingling of the administration of the broker exams with other types of exams, CBP has decided to change the regularly scheduled dates of the examination,” the agency said in a Dec. 27 Federal Register notice.

Section 641 of the 1930 Tariff Act requires a person who conducts customs business on behalf of others to be licensed by CBP.

To pass the four-and-a-half-hour customs broker license exam, an applicant must score a passing grade of 75% or higher. Applicants spend many hours preparing for the exam. It is estimated that of the 1,200 applicants who take the customs broker license exam only 10 to 20% pass.

In early November, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association (NCBFAA) protested the conditions of 2019 test sites throughout the country, which were hosted by third-party test administrator Pearson Vue.  

“We’re working closely with CBP to resolve or at least mitigate the problems experienced in the last round of exams,” NCBFAA President Amy Magnus told American Shipper.   

She said the limited space for taking the test as well as the security screening to enter the exam area were two of the significant problems with the test sites. “CBP is aware of and trying to work with us to resolve these problems for the upcoming exam,” she said.   

CBP told the NCBFAA that the date change is necessary for the next two exams but expects to be back to the fourth Wednesday of April and October for future exams.   

“There are many trade-offs as CBP works to make the exam experience predictable. Space, reliable internet, reasonable ‘rules’ about what can and cannot be allowed while taking the exam, as well as reasonable security prior to the exam are all issues that CBP has discussed with our association,” Magnus said.   

“CBP has stated that they will conduct webinars or other outreach prior to the April exam, so that all exam takers will know what to expect on exam day as well as what will be allowed in the exam room.  Hopefully this effort will make the exam experience better for the exam takers,” she added.

There are an estimated 14,450 active licensed customs brokers operating in the U.S. today.