Hundreds of people apply every year to become a customs broker. Customs brokers are licensed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The process requires passing a rigorous multiple choice examination, and then passing a background investigation. For many applicants who successfully pass the examination, they are denied a license because the background investigation revealed a poor credit history and rating.
Although the application to be a customs broker is submitted to the local port, the decision letter granting or denying a broker license is issued by Allen Gina, Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, CBP Headquarters in Washington, D.C. A typical denial letter would state:
After careful evaluation of the information obtained from the background investigation, we must deny your application due to your financial history.
The denial letter always cites the CBP regulation at 19 CFR 111.16 – a failure to establish the business integrity and good character of the applicant. Fortunately, the letter also cites 19 CFR 111.17 which provides the right of appeal of the denial of the customs broker license.
The appeal must be filed, in writing, and submitted to Mr. Gina no later than 60 days from the date of the denial letter. The appeal must persuasively argue why the applicant has business integrity and good character. For example, if the applicant went through a divorce, and the former spouse failed to pay certain bills which negatively affected the applicant’s credit history and rating, that is an important fact that must be argued, and documented, in the appeal.
There are numerous reasons why CBP may legitimately deny a customs broker license to an applicant who has a spotty financial history. Similarly, there are numerous reasons to explain to CBP that despite what appears to be a questionable financial history, the applicant has business integrity and good character, and should still receive the customs broker license.