What is a Power of Attorney for Customs Brokers—and Why Do You Need Them?
Customs brokers are authorized by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to do our jobs, but we don’t actually work for CBP or the federal government. In order for us to work on your behalf, we need to establish a legal connection with you, and that is where the Power of Attorney (POA) comes in. Once you have established Power of Attorney, we are able to:
• Act as a grantor for any bond required for importing
• Endorse, sign, and declare requests for delivery, entry, or withdrawal
• Process any declaration, certificate, protest, bill of lading, or affidavit
• Collect drawback and duty refunds.
What is Required to Establish Power of Attorney?
While you don't need to be a resident of the U.S. to import or export goods, the customs broker to whom you give Power of Attorney does have to be a US resident.
For most importers (e.g. corporations, sole proprietors, and individuals), powers of attorney may be granted to the customer broker for an unlimited period. However, the situation is different for partnerships. In this case, POAs must be limited to a maximum of two years. Also note that if there is any change to the membership of the partnership during the agreement’s term, the POA becomes invalid and you must obtain a new POA.
To be valid, the POA must be signed and include the following:
The importer’s US tax reporting number;
The importer’s status (corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, individual); and
Standard Power of Attorney terms, limited or unlimited.
Import Details About Customs POAs
While the Power of Attorney document is quite standard, there are some important details to remember, so that you ensure the POA is valid for importing and exporting:
Officer of the Company – A POA is only valid if signed by someone who is considered an "officer" of the company. That means they have the title of President, Vice-President, Secretary, or Treasurer. Their title could be Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. Alternately, the company may choose someone else — e.g. a buying director. However, the organization must provide this person with a separate Power of Attorney empowering them to do so.
No Notary Required – There is no need to notarize Power of Attorney documents, as long as either an officer or another legally empowered person signs the POA.
For Customs Business Only – A CBP Power of Attorney does not give the customs broker any power within your business. It simply authorizes them to work on your behalf for customs transactions only.