NCBFAA Legislative Alert: Immediate Action Required

A Customs bill is on the verge of being finalized. Discussions will be taking place in a House-Senate conference committee very soon. The House bill contains two provisions of great concern to NCBFAA:

Harsh Penalties for Customs Brokers for Failure to Vet Importers Adequately: Section 116 of the House bill imposes stiff penalties on customs brokers (up to $10,000 per violation and potential loss of license) if they fail to collect and verify information on importers. This requirement is guided by a vague and ambiguous standard.

U.S. Agent Required For Nonresident Importers: Section 117 of the House bill requires a nonresident importer-of-record to appoint a U.S. agent to assume liability for duties and penalties if CBP is unable to collect from the nonresident importer-of-record.

A letter from NCBFAA to House and Senate trade leaders provides further details. Please click these links to download the letters:

Senate Letter
House Letter

All Customs Brokers
Immediately contact your Congressman and Senators. Ask them to weigh on the Customs bill to express concern about the provisions mentioned above and to urge that the conference committee drop the two objectionable House provisions. Feel free to send along a copy of NCBFAA’s letter to explain the issue. See the following pointers for how best to reach your Congressional Representatives.

Who Should I Contact?
You should contact your two Senators and your Representative in the House — particularly those who are on the House Ways and Means Committee or Senate Finance Committee or otherwise have an interest in Customs and trade issues. If you have developed staff contacts during your visits to Washington, you should direct your message to the attention of those staff members.

How Do I Best Reach Out To Them?
You can locate the contact information for House members and Senators at the following links:

We recommend that you FAX your message (along with the appropriate NCBFAA letter attached) to each office. And, if you have a staff contact, also email that person with the NCBFAA letter as an attachment.

What Do I Say In My Message?

  • I am greatly concerned about the Customs Bill now being discussed in a House-Senate conference committee.
  • Section 116 of the House bill establishes new requirements for customs brokers to collect and verify information on the identity of importers, with stiff penalties for failure to comply. We disagree with heavy-handed approach of House bill, especially since the industry is already engaged with CBP in a collaborative approach to leverage the role of the broker.
  • Section 117 of the House bill requires nonresident importers-of-record to designate a U.S. registered agent for payment of duties and fines, even though a nonresident importer-of-record already is subject to bonding requirements to assure payment of duties and fines. This is an ineffective solution that will be highly disruptive to trade, particularly with our Canadian trade partners.
  • The attached letter from our national association explains the issues in greater detail
  • for Senators, please contact Chairman Orrin Hatch and Senator Ron Wyden (Senate Finance) and, for House members, please contact Chairman Paul Ryan and Ranking Member Sander Levin (House Ways and Means Committee), as well as other members of the House-Senate conference committee, urging them to eliminate these two provisions in conference.

For Senators, attach the letter addressed to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
For members of the House, attach the letter addressed to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
NOTE: When sending your letter, please also forward a copy of it to the NCBFAA by email or mail it to 1200 18th Street NW, Suite 901, Washington, DC 20036.

When Should I Do This?
Right now!Timing is critical. The House-Senate conference discussions are now beginning and could move very rapidly so that a final bill can pass both chambers by the end of the month.