In a previous article, Increased Security Arrangements For Ports And Airports, I pointed to the new Conditions being added to the Licences of individual Customs Brokers.
One of these requirements is that Customs Brokers must undertake a program of Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) in between their licence renewal dates (licences are renewed every 3 years). The requirement is that a Customs Broker must attain 30 CPD points each year during the triennium that their licence is valid for. Training courses must be submitted to Customs for assessment and approval before the course will be accredited for the purposes of counting towards a Customs Brokers’ CPD points. Once accredited the course is given a “Course Number” and points allocation. However, because of the short lead time given by Customs for the introduction of this new requirement, Customs allowed a grace period to enable various training organisations to set up their training courses and have them accredited by Customs. So, the accumulation of CPD points commenced on 1 April, 2013, and in the period to 31 March, 2014, Customs Brokers only need to acquire 15 CPD points. However, from 1 April, 2014, to 31 March, 2015, they will need to accumulate the full 30 CPD points for that year. Customs recognise that one hour of accredited training will equate to 3 CPD points meaning a Customs Broker must attend a minimum of 10 hours of approved training during each 12 month period. Further, the points are required to be accumulated in 3 specified “streams” of study covering Customs Broker obligations, risks and ethics, professional brokerage skills, and Customs brokerage management. Customs require that Customs Brokers retain a written record of the courses attended and the points achieved for successful completion of each course, and Customs Brokers might be asked at any time by Customs to produce the record(s) of CPD points achievements.
In the lead up to the commencement date of the new CPD requirements for Customs Brokers, Customs publicly acknowledged (in Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Notice 2012/37) that Customs Brokers are considered as practitioners in “a distinct and valuable profession.” Customs Brokers are now viewed by Government in a similar light as other professions such as the accounting and legal professions. It has taken many years to reach this point, and it is gratifying that the efforts of the industry as a whole have contributed to this recognition of how professional the industry has become. Just as importantly, the efforts of those in the industry that have tirelessly worked towards this recognition must be applauded. No longer are Customs Brokers considered a collective of blue-collar types simply processing bits of paper and organising cargo deliveries. It is to be hoped that this new recognition of the status of a Customs Broker becomes more widely known throughout the community so we can attract more high calibre young people prepared to undertake the training to become Customs Brokers. It is also hoped that this recognition will lead to importers and exporters placing more value on their Customs Brokers services and reward them accordingly.
The outcome of this new scheme is that the Government and private sectors with whom Customs Brokers deal can be confident the Customs Broker is suitably qualified and experienced to undertake the work required of them.
© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.