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HQ 223059

May 20, 1991

ENT-1-01 CO:R:C:E 223059 C


Billy J. Gwin
1400 Exchange Building
821 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

RE: Automated Broker Interface Service Bureau; ABI; licensed broker may operate as service bureau; 19 CFR 143.1

Dear Mr. Gwin:

This responds to your letter of December 20, 1990, concerning Customs Regulation 143.1 (19 CFR 143.1).

After review of the matter, and consultations with our Office of Automated Commercial Systems and Office of Trade Operations, we have concluded that a licensed broker can operate as an ABI service bureau, with the following caveats: 1) The service bureau cannot engage in Customs business, as defined in 19 U.S.C. 1641(a)(2) and section 111.1(c) of the regulations (19 CFR 111.1(c)), and 2) where a licensed broker operates also as a service bureau, a broker cannot perform Customs business for a client who has engaged/hired him only to perform the function of a service bureau.

Section 143.1(c) prohibits a service bureau from performing Customs business without a broker license. Where a licensed broker also performs the business of a service bureau, he wears two hats and performs two separate and distinct functions. Where a licensed broker represents a client in only a service bureau capacity, the services he can provide for that client are limited to what is set forth in section 143.1 of the regulations. Where a licensed broker represents a client in both a broker and service bureau capacity, there is no such limitation.

The Office of Automated Commercial Systems illuminated the matter as follows (paraphrased from the ACS response): A licensed broker operating also as a service bureau can correct entries filed for clients who have hired him as a broker (or as both a broker and service bureau) when the broker's filer code is used. But clients (importers) who hire a broker only in the capacity as a service bureau, and who use their own (importer) filer codes, must correct their own entries. That is, the importer/client can transmit ABI data through a broker/service bureau's software programming, and be subjected to the edits and validations of the broker's service bureau software, but if the importer's filer code is used, as would be the case where a broker/service bureau is hired only in the capacity of a service bureau, then all corrections or changes to the data must be performed by the employees of the importer. Further, any dealings with Customs regarding classification, value, admissibility, etc., must be handled by the importer/client, not the broker acting in his capacity as a service bureau.

In addition, it was recommended that we advise you of the fact that service bureaus do not have to be licensed as service bureaus. Therefore, advertising your business as a "licensed service bureau" should be avoided. The public should not be confused into thinking that service bureaus must be licensed or that a licensed bureau is better than one not so advertised. This is not to preclude promoting your business as providing the services of a "licensed broker."

If you have any additional questions, please contact this office.


William G. Rosoff

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