Forwarder Required to Pay $10,000 Penalty for “Customs Business” without License

On January 21, 2015, the CIT ordered Freight Forwarder International (FFI) to pay a $10,000 penalty for intentionally paying duties and fees on behalf of non-related parties to CBP without a corporate license.  

Between June of 2009 and January 2010, FFI was the payer company for duties and fees on 19 entries paid on behalf of other persons.  FFI then invoiced its clients for the payments on its own letterhead.  Although FFI advertised itself as having in-house customs brokers services and retained an employee with a customs broker’s license, FFI did not hold a corporate custom’s broker’s license in accordance with 19 U.S.C. § 1641.  The CIT found “section 1641(b)(6) makes it a violation for 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.”  As per 19 U.S.C. § 1401(d) a person “includes partnerships, associations, and corporations.”  The CIT concluded “customs business includes payment of duties and the preparation of invoices intended to be filed with CBP.”

Because FFI was a corporation preforming customs business without a license, the CIT held FFI liable for a $10,000 penalty plus post-judgment interests and costs.

Source:  U.S. v. Freight Forwarder Int'l, Inc., Slip Op. 15-05, #14-00134, dated 01/21/15, Judge Kelly
Aaron Ambrite, Extern, Global Trade Expertise, February 6, 2015