19 U.S. Code § 1641 - Customs brokers
No person may conduct customs business (other than solely on behalf of that person) unless that person holds a valid customs broker’s license issued by the Secretary under paragraph (2) or (3).
The Secretary may grant an individual a customs broker’s license only if that individual is a citizen of the United States. Before granting the license, the Secretary may require an applicant to show any facts deemed necessary to establish that the applicant is of good moral character and qualified to render valuable service to others in the conduct of customs business. In assessing the qualifications of an applicant, the Secretary may conduct an examination to determine the applicant’s knowledge of customs and related laws, regulations and procedures, bookkeeping, accounting, and all other appropriate matters.
The Secretary may grant a customs broker’s license to any corporation, association, or partnership that is organized or existing under the laws of any of the several States of the United States if at least one officer of the corporation or association, or one member of the partnership, holds a valid customs broker’s license granted under paragraph (2).
A customs broker shall exercise responsible supervision and control over the customs business that it conducts.
The failure of a customs broker that is licensed as a corporation, association, or partnership under paragraph (3) to have, for any continuous period of 120 days, at least one officer of the corporation or association, or at least one member of the partnership, validly licensed under paragraph (2) shall, in addition to causing the broker to be subject to any other sanction under this section (including paragraph (6)), result in the revocation by operation of law of its license.
Any person who intentionally transacts customs business, other than solely on the behalf of that person, without holding a valid customs broker’s license granted to that person under this subsection shall be liable to the United States for a monetary penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each such transaction as well as for each violation of any other provision of this section. This penalty shall be assessed in the same manner and under the same procedures as the monetary penalties provided for in subsection (d)(2)(A) of this section.
The failure of a customs broker granted a permit under paragraph (1) to employ, for any continuous period of 180 days, at least one individual who is licensed under subsection (b)(2) of this section within the district or region (if paragraph (2) applies) for which a permit was issued shall, in addition to causing the broker to be subject to any other sanction under this section (including any in subsection (d) of this section), result in the revocation by operation of law of the permit.
Notwithstanding subsection (c)(1) of this section, upon the implementation by the Secretary under section 1413(b)(2) of this title of the component of the National Customs Automation Program referred to in section 1411(a)(2)(B) of this title, a licensed broker may appoint another licensed broker holding a permit in a customs district to act on its behalf as its subagent in that district if such activity relates to the filing of information that is permitted by law or regulation to be filed electronically. A licensed broker appointing a subagent pursuant to this paragraph shall remain liable for any and all obligations arising under bond and any and all duties, taxes, and fees, as well as any other liabilities imposed by law, and shall be precluded from delegating to a subagent such liability.
Unless action has been taken under subparagraph (B), the appropriate customs officer shall serve notice in writing upon any customs broker to show cause why the broker should not be subject to a monetary penalty not to exceed $30,000 in total for a violation or violations of this section. The notice shall advise the customs broker of the allegations or complaints against him and shall explain that the broker has a right to respond to the allegations or complaints in writing within 30 days of the date of the notice. Before imposing a monetary penalty, the customs officer shall consider the allegations or complaints and any timely response made by the customs broker and issue a written decision. A customs broker against whom a monetary penalty has been issued under this section shall have a reasonable opportunity under section 1618 of this title to make representations seeking remission or mitigation of the monetary penalty. Following the conclusion of any proceeding under section 1618 of this title, the appropriate customs officer shall provide to the customs broker a written statement which sets forth the final determination and the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which such determination is based.
The Customs Service may, for good and sufficient reason, serve notice in writing upon any customs broker to show cause why a license or permit issued under this section should not be revoked or suspended. The notice shall be in the form of a statement specifically setting forth the grounds of the complaint, and shall allow the customs broker 30 days to respond. If no response is filed, or the Customs Service determines that the revocation or suspension is still warranted, it shall notify the customs broker in writing of a hearing to be held within 30 days, or at a later date if the broker requests an extension and shows good cause therefor, before an administrative law judge appointed pursuant to section 3105 of title 5 who shall serve as the hearing officer. If the customs broker waives the hearing, or the broker or his designated representative fails to appear at the appointed time and place, the hearing officer shall make findings and recommendations based on the record submitted by the parties. At the hearing, the customs broker may be represented by counsel, and all proceedings, including the proof of the charges and the response thereto shall be presented with testimony taken under oath and the right of cross-examination accorded to both parties. A transcript of the hearing shall be made and a copy will be provided to the Customs Service and the customs broker; which shall thereafter be provided reasonable opportunity to file a post-hearing brief. Following the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall transmit promptly the record of the hearing along with the findings of fact and recommendations to the Secretary for decision. The Secretary will issue a written decision, based solely on the record, setting forth the findings of fact and the reasons for the decision. Such decision may provide for the sanction contained in the notice to show cause or any lesser sanction authorized by this subsection, including a monetary penalty not to exceed $30,000, than was contained in the notice to show cause.
The Secretary may settle and compromise any disciplinary proceeding which has been instituted under this subsection according to the terms and conditions agreed to by the parties, including but not limited to the reduction of any proposed suspension or revocation to a monetary penalty.
Notwithstanding section 1621 of this title, no proceeding under this subsection or subsection (b)(6) of this section shall be commenced unless such proceeding is instituted by the appropriate service of written notice within 5 years from the date the alleged violation was committed; except that if the alleged violation consists of fraud, the 5-year period of limitation shall commence running from the time such alleged violation was discovered.
A customs broker, applicant, or other person directly affected may appeal any decision of the Secretary denying or revoking a license or permit under subsection (b) or (c) of this section, or revoking or suspending a license or permit or imposing a monetary penalty in lieu thereof under subsection (d)(2)(B) of this section, by filing in the Court of International Trade, within 60 days after the issuance of the decision or order, a written petition requesting that the decision or order be modified or set aside in whole or in part. A copy of the petition shall be transmitted promptly by the clerk of the court to the Secretary or his designee. In cases involving revocation or suspension of a license or permit or imposition of a monetary penalty in lieu thereof under subsection (d)(2)(B) of this section, after receipt of the petition, the Secretary shall file in court the record upon which the decision or order complained of was entered, as provided in section 2635(d) of title 28.
The court shall not consider any objection to the decision or order of the Secretary, or to the introduction of evidence or testimony, unless that objection was raised before the hearing officer in suspension or revocation proceedings unless there were reasonable grounds for failure to do so.
The findings of the Secretary as to the facts, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.
If any party applies to the court for leave to present additional evidence and the court is satisfied that the additional evidence is material and that reasonable grounds existed for the failure to present the evidence in the proceedings before the hearing officer, the court may order the additional evidence to be taken before the hearing officer and to be presented in a manner and upon the terms and conditions prescribed by the court. The Secretary may modify the findings of facts on the basis of the additional evidence presented. The Secretary shall then file with the court any new or modified findings of fact which shall be conclusive if supported by substantial evidence, together with a recommendation, if any, for the modification or setting aside of the original decision or order.
The commencement of proceedings under this subsection shall, unless specifically ordered by the court, operate as a stay of the decision of the Secretary except in the case of a denial of a license or permit.
If an appeal is not filed within the time limits specified in this section, the decision by the Secretary shall be final and conclusive. In the case of a monetary penalty imposed under subsection (d)(2)(B) of this section, if the amount is not tendered within 60 days after the decision becomes final, the license shall automatically be suspended until payment is made to the Customs Service.
The Secretary may prescribe such rules and regulations relating to the customs business of customs brokers as the Secretary considers necessary to protect importers and the revenue of the United States, and to carry out the provisions of this section, including rules and regulations governing the licensing of or issuance of permits to customs brokers, the keeping of books, accounts, and records by customs brokers, and documents and correspondence, and the furnishing by customs brokers of any other information relating to their customs business to any duly accredited officer or employee of the Customs Service. The Secretary may not prohibit customs brokers from limiting their liability to other persons in the conduct of customs business. For purposes of this subsection or any other provision of this chapter pertaining to recordkeeping, all data required to be retained by a customs broker may be kept on microfilm, optical disc, magnetic tapes, disks or drums, video files or any other electrically generated medium. Pursuant to such regulations as the Secretary shall prescribe, the conversion of data to such storage medium may be accomplished at any time subsequent to the relevant customs transaction and the data may be retained in a centralized basis according to such broker’s business system.
The Secretary may prescribe reasonable fees and charges to defray the costs of the Customs Service in carrying out the provisions of this section, including, but not limited to, a fee for licenses issued under subsection (b) of this section and fees for any test administered by him or under his direction; except that no separate fees shall be imposed to defray the costs of an individual audit or of individual disciplinary proceedings of any nature.
This section relates to the same subject matter as act June 10, 1910, ch. 283, §§ 1–5, 36 Stat. 464, 465 (incorporated into the Code as former sections 415 to 419 of this title); and those sections were expressly repealed by paragraph (e) of this section which read as follows: “(e) Licenses under Act of June 10, 1910.—The Act entitled ‘An Act to license customhouse brokers,’ approved June 10, 1910, is hereby repealed, except that any license issued under such Act shall continue in force and effect, subject to suspension and revocation in the same manner and upon the same conditions as licenses issued pursuant to subdivision (a) of this section.”
Act June 10, 1910, ch. 283, § 1, 36 Stat. 464, prior to its incorporation into the Code, referred to the collector or chief officer of the customs “at any port of entry or delivery.” Ports of delivery, not specifically mentioned as ports of entry, were abolished in the reorganization of the customs service by the President (see notes to section 1 of this title).
Act June 10, 1910, ch. 283, § 3, 36 Stat. 465, prior to its incorporation into the Code, referred to the United States Circuit Court instead of the District Court. Section 291 of the act of Mar. 3, 1911, provided that any reference, in any law not embraced in that act, to the Circuit Courts, or any power or duty conferred upon them, should be deemed to refer to, and to confer such power and duty upon, the District Courts.
1998—Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 105–258 struck out subsec. (i) which prohibited conference or group of two or more ocean common carriers from denying any member the right to take independent action on any level of compensation paid to an ocean freight forwarder who was also a customs broker, and from agreeing to limit payment to such a forwarder to less than 1.25 percent of aggregate of tariff rates and charges, and set out provisions relating to administration of provisions, remedies for violations, and definitions.
1996—Subsec. (d)(2)(B). Pub. L. 104–295 substituted “the findings of fact” for “his findings of fact” in penultimate sentence.
1993—Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 103–182, § 648(1), inserted at end “It also includes the preparation of documents or forms in any format and the electronic transmission of documents, invoices, bills, or parts thereof, intended to be filed with the Customs Service in furtherance of such activities, whether or not signed or filed by the preparer, or activities relating to such preparation, but does not include the mere electronic transmission of data received for transmission to Customs.”
Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 103–182, § 648(2), amended par. (1) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (1) read as follows: “Each person granted a customs broker’s license under subsection (b) of this section shall—
“(A) be issued a permit, in accordance with regulations prescribed under this section, for each customs district in which that person conducts customs business; and
“(B) except as provided in paragraph (2), regularly employ in each customs district for which a permit is so issued at least one individual who is licensed under subsection (b)(2) of this section to exercise responsible supervision and control over the customs business conducted by that person in that district.”
Subsec. (c)(4). Pub. L. 103–182, § 648(3), added par. (4).
Subsec. (d)(2)(B). Pub. L. 103–182, § 648(4), in first sentence, substituted “Customs Service” for “appropriate customs officer”, in third sentence, substituted “Customs Service” for “appropriate customs officer”, “it shall notify” for “he shall notify”, and “30” for “15”, in sixth sentence, substituted “the Customs Service and the customs broker; which” for “the appropriate customs officer and the customs broker; they”, in the seventh sentence, substituted “the findings of fact” for “his findings of fact”, and in the eighth sentence, substituted “for the decision” for “for his decision”.
Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 103–182, § 648(5), substituted “Customs Service. The Secretary may not prohibit customs brokers from limiting their liability to other persons in the conduct of customs business. For purposes of this subsection or any other provision of this Act pertaining to recordkeeping, all data required to be retained by a customs broker may be kept on microfilm, optical disc, magnetic tapes, disks or drums, video files or any other electrically generated medium. Pursuant to such regulations as the Secretary shall prescribe, the conversion of data to such storage medium may be accomplished at any time subsequent to the relevant customs transaction and the data may be retained in a centralized basis according to such broker’s business system.” for “United States Customs Service.”
1986—Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 99–514 added subsec. (i).
1984—Pub. L. 98–573 amended section generally, substituting provisions relating to customs broker’s licenses and permits for provisions relating to licensing of customhouse brokers.
1980—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 96–417, in second par., substituted in second sentence “filing, in the Court of International Trade” for “filing, in the circuit court of appeals of the United States within any circuit wherein such person resides or has his principal place of business, or in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia” and struck out penultimate sentence which read as follows: “The judgment and decree of the court affirming, modifying, or setting aside, in whole or in part, any such order of the Secretary of the Treasury shall be final, subject to review by the Supreme Court of the United States upon certiorari or certification as provided in 1254 of title 28.”
1978—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 95–410 added subsec. (e).
1970—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 91–271 substituted references to appropriate officer of the customs for references to collector or chief officer of customs wherever appearing.
1958—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 85–791 in third sentence of second par., substituted “transmitted by the clerk of the court to” for “served upon”, struck out “upon” before “any officer”, “certify and” before “file in the court”, “a transcript of” before “the record upon” and inserted “as provided in section 2112 of title 28”, and in fourth sentence of second par., substituted “petition” for “transcript”.
1935—Subsec. (a). Act Aug. 26, 1935, § 3, substituted “(c)” for “(e)” in last sentence.
Subsecs. (b) to (d). Act Aug. 26, 1935, § 4, amended subsecs. (b) to (d) generally.
Subsec. (e). Act Aug. 26, 1935, § 5, repealed subsec. (e) which related to licenses under the act of June 10, 1910.
Amendment by Pub. L. 98–573 effective on close of 180th day following Oct. 30, 1984, with certain exceptions, except that subsec. (c)(1)(B), (2) of this section shall take effect three years after Oct. 30, 1984, see section 214(d) of Pub. L. 98–573, set out as a note under section 1304 of this title.
Amendment by Pub. L. 96–417 applicable with respect to civil actions commenced on or after Nov. 1, 1980, see section 701(b)(2) of Pub. L. 96–417, set out as a note under section 251 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
For transfer of functions, personnel, assets, and liabilities of the United States Customs Service of the Department of the Treasury, including functions of the Secretary of the Treasury relating thereto, to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 203(1), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.
For provisions directing that if any amendments made by subtitle A or subtitle C of title XI [§§ 1101–1147 and 1171–1177] or title XVIII [§§ 1801–1899A] of Pub. L. 99–514 require an amendment to any plan, such plan amendment shall not be required to be made before the first plan year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 1989, see section 1140 of Pub. L. 99–514, as amended, set out as a note under section 401 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code.
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