What purpose does a Power of Attorney (POA) serve?

There are 2 types of POA when conducting business with U.S. Customs.

  1. An employee who works for a U.S. Customs broker who is acting solely for his employer to conduct customs business on their behalf.
  2. Customs Broker to act on the behalf of the Importer to conduct customs business.

To conduct customs business, a U.S. Customs Broker must have a permit to conduct customs business at the port that a U.S. Customs Broker applied to. A Customs broker has the option to apply to multiple ports if a Customs Broker needs to conduct business at those ports. Transacting Customs Business means under CFR 19 Title: ┬ž 111.1 Definitions.:

  1. Entry and admissibility of merchandise,
  2. Classification and valuation,
  3. The payment of duties, taxes, or other charges assessed or collected by CBP on merchandise by reason of its importation,
  4. Refund, rebate, or drawback of those duties, taxes, or other charges.
  5. Preparation, and activities relating to the preparation, of documents in any format and the electronic transmission of documents,
  6. Parts of documents intended to be filed with CBP in furtherance of any other customs business activity, whether or not signed or filed by the preparer.
  7. Transacting customs business does not include the mere electronic transmission of data received for transmission to CBP and does not include a corporate compliance activity.

Yet, a U.S. Customs Brokers license is not required to import on behalf of an importer.

  1. An importer or exporter can transact customs business solely on his own account and in no sense on behalf of another is not required to be licensed, nor are his authorized regular employees or officers who act only for him in the transaction of such business.
  2. Marine Transactions
  3. Transportation in-bond
  4. noncommercial shipments
  5. Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) activities

An Employee of a broker who is acting solely for his employer to conduct customs business must have a power of attorney stating that the employee will act on behalf of the customs broker and the power of attorney must be filed with the port director. Yet the customs broker is responsible and must exercise sufficient supervision of the employee to ensure proper conduct on the part of the employee in the transaction of customs business. Also a customs broker must exercise of reasonable care and diligence for those who are not licensed based on the acts and omissions which the employee may not beware of therefore the customs broker should have foreseen.

A power of attorney for an employee allows the employee to:

  1. The broker has authorized the employee to sign documents pertaining to customs business on his behalf, yet a power of attorney does not have a to be filed with the port director.
  2. A customs broker has filed with the port director a statement identifying the employee as authorized to transact customs business on his behalf.

For a Customs Broker to act on the behalf of the Importer to conduct customs business.

A power of attorney must be granted by the importer of record. A power of attorney can be on Customs Form 5291 yet a POA may not have to be on 5291 but shall be a General POA as explicit in its terms and executed in the same manner as a Customs Form 5291 as follows.

General power of attorney with unlimited authority example:


         (Name of principal)
________ ,

(State legal designation, such as corporation, individual, etc.) residing at ___ and doing business under the laws of the State of , hereby appoints   (Name, legal designation, and address) as a true and lawful agent and attorney of the principal named above with full power and authority to do and perform every lawful act and thing the said agent and attorney may deem requisite and necessary to be done for and on behalf of the said principal without limitation of any kind as fully as said principal could do if present and acting, and hereby ratify and confirm all that said agent and attorney shall lawfully do or cause to be done by virtue of these presents until and including , (date) or until notice of revocation in writing is duly given before that date.

Date __, 19;.

(Principal’s signature)

The Duration of power of attorney can be either unlimited or limited. Under an unlimited POA, an unlimited POA grants a POA for an unlimited period of time unless
a written notice of revocation is received by CBP either at the port of entry or electronically. Notice will be given to the Customs Broker that the importer ceases to be an active client therefore the POA is revoked. After revocation, Customs Broker must keep record for 5 years. A Limited POA Issued by a partnership that shall be limited to a period not to exceed 2 years from the date of execution.

As a rule, when conducting business with CBP or PGA’s, a power of attorney must granted to the individual or customs brokers to conduct business on behalf of the importer of record. Simple as writing to CBP / PGA’s for inquiries to filing.