How to become a Licensed Customs Broker

Customs brokers in Australia are amongst the most professional in the world today. They are skilled service providers and have been through a rigorous program of tertiary training that includes structured assessment of their operational skills. They also attend regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to ensure that their skills are maintained and enhanced in line with changes to Australian Government regulation and accepted industry practices internationally.

Note that there are three categories of customs brokers and these are:
  • Corporate
  • Sole Trader 
  • Nominee
The information below relates specifically to nominee customs broker licensing. A nominee is a natural person that is licensed to act as a customs broker but only as an employee of a corporate or a sole trader customs brokerage.  A nominee may be employed by more than one corporate or sole trader brokerage at any one time.The vast majority of licensed customs brokers operating in Australia are nominees.

For details of the licensing process for corporate or sole trader customs brokers, click HERE to be taken to the ABF website.

Under Part XI of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act), all practising customs brokers in Australia are required to be licensed by the Comptroller-General of Customs for the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) Below are the key steps that must be followed to become licensed as a nominee:

Step 1: Approved course of study

Never studied a course before?
You will need to complete the course of study approved by the ABF for licensing. The current approved course of study is the Diploma of Customs Broking (national course code TLI50822) and you can study this course through IFCBAA (click HERE   for more information).

Think you have sufficient industry experience to be exempt from completing the approved course?
If you consider that you have sufficient industry skills, knowledge and experience that you could be exempted from completion of the approved course, you will need to lodge a Recognition of Prior Leaning (RPL) application through the IFCBAA to have your skills and experience formally recognised.  Further information about the RPL process please email the training department at [email protected] 

Studied a previously approved course?
If you have completed a previously approved course of study your qualification may be accepted by ABF without the need for further study. We would suggest you contact the National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee (NCBLAC) to discuss your specific circumstances in this regard.

Have overseas experience working as a customs broker?
The Australia Border Force, under the Department of Home Affairs, does not recognise international qualifications or experience. You may still submit an RPL application. See the second point above.

Step 2: Acquired experience

To be granted a customs broker licence you must demonstrate to the ABF that you have the acquired experience that would fit you to be a customs broker. Acquired experience is the experience you gain in the workplace with broker-like responsibilities. Your acquired experience will be assessed with regard to the length and nature of your employment experience and to your referees’ statements. 

With this in mind, the ABF has provided you with a list of areas where you need to be able to demonstrate your experience. This list is called the Acquired Experience : Self Assessment for Nominee Customs Broker Licence Application  and it can be downloaded from the ABF website HERE.  We suggest you treat this list as a 'tick list' and check off the areas, one by one, when you are comfortable you can demonstrate your experience. If there are areas here you don't have experience, you will need to either work with your employer to gain this experience or, before you lodge your application for a customs brokers licence, conduct your own research so that you are familiar with what would be required, in a hypothetical situation, to demonstrate that you could deal with a specific area of customs broking if the need arose. A perfect example is being totally aware of the dumping process even though you may not have had on-job experience in this area. NCBLAC are aware that there may be some instances like this where industry experience is rare but they will expect you at your hearing to demonstrate that you know the process, know where to look for information, know what to do and how to do it. 

This document forms part of the broader Guidelines for completing a nominee customs broker licence application which can be downloaded from the ABF website through HERE

Step 3: Fit and proper person

It is a requirement of licensing that you be able to demonstrate that you are a fit and proper person (sometimes referred to as a "person of integrity"). You demonstrate this through references you provide and through integrity checks conducted by the DIBP, including Police checks and other Australian law enforcement agencies.

You are also required to let the ABF know if you have committed certain offences (usually ones for which a term of incarceration was the penalty) and/or if you have become bankrupt.

Full details of your obligations to disclose information may be found by clicking HERE.