Ascent Global Logistics Blog


Power Of Attorney: Critical To International Shippers

Posted by Ascent Global Logistics on Mar 5, 2019 1:08:35 PM
When people hear the phrase "Power of Attorney," they often think immediately of a Medical Power of Attorney or a Dependent Power of Attorney. However, Powers of Attorney are crucial to the International Freight Forwarding and Customs Brokerage world. Powers of Attorney are the mechanism by which the importer or exporter authorizes the forwarder or broker to act on their behalf in customs related transactions. 

What A Power Of Attorney Is:

A Power of Attorney is a Grant of Authority from the importer to the broker. It is required by a broker for all activities that fall under the category of "customs business."

Customs Business

Customs Business is defined by 19 U.S.C. section 1641 (a ) (2 ) as: Those activities involving transactions with the Customs Service concerning the entry and admissibility of merchandise, its classification and valuation, the payment of duties, taxes, or other charges assessed or collected by the Customs Service upon merchandise by reason of its importation, or the refund, rebate, or drawback thereof. If also includes the preparation of documents or forms in any format and the electronic transmission of documents, invoices, bills, or parts thereof, intended to be filed with the Customs Service in furtherance of such activities, whether or not signed or filed by the preparer or activities relating to such, preparation, but does not includes the mere electronic transmission of data received for transmission to Customs.

19CFR111.1 also states that “customs business” includes, “those activities involving transactions with CBP concerning the entry and admissibility of merchandise, its classification and valuation, the payment of duties, taxes or other charges assessed or collected by CBP on merchandise b reason of its importation, and the refund, rebate or drawback of those duties, taxes or other charges.

“Customs business” also includes the preparation and activities relating to the preparation of documents in any format, and the electronic transmission of documents and 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. However, “customs business” does not include the mere electronic transmission of data received for transmission to CBP and does not include a corporate compliance activity.”

Customs business does not include Marine transactions, In Bond movements or transportation of merchandise and Foreign Trade Zone Admission. Other services not included in “customs business” include arranging for freight and document delivery via messenger services as well as the filing of a CF3299 for Personal effects. 

A Power of Attorney is a written authority that allows:

  • The broker to act as a “true and lawful agent and attorney of the grantor.”
  • An agent to transmit export data on behalf of a U.S. or Foreign Principal Party in Interest.

Powers of Attorney are written designations by the Importer of an authorized agent to file the Importer Security Filing on their behalf. The Power Of attorney form must be written as such to include the authority to file ISF’s.

What A Power Of Attorney Is Not:

  • A contract between the Importer and the Broker.
    • There may be contracts drawn between an importer and a broker, but the Power of Attorney is not such a document.
  • An absolute authority to sign every CBP document that might be required on an entry on behalf of the client.
  • Certain Antidumping Non-Reimbursement statements or Quota charge statements are not included in the POA authority.
When an Importer or Exporter is asked to complete the Power of Attorney, there are some key points of information that must be provided in entirety to allow the broker to act on their behalf:
  1. The Type of Entity that encompasses the client.
    1. Individual.
    2. Partnership – has a TWO year limitation.
    3. Corporation.
    4. Sole Proprietorship.
    5. Limited Liability Company.
  2. Full legal name of the entity.
  3. State in which the entity is registered.
  4. Resident or Entity Place of Business.
  5. Designation of the Broker or Forwarder – who is going to be handling the “customs business” for the importer or exporter.
  6. Signature, Capacity and Date of the Signor.
  7. If the entity is a Foreign Importer of Record, the signor of the Power of Attorney should provide supporting documentation that they are authorized to act on the business’ behalf and that document should be fully recognized by the laws of the country in which the business is licensed. 
The Power of Attorney will remain in effect as long as the “valid to” date is in effect. Often that is flagged as “UNTIL REVOKED”, which gives both the entity and their forwarder / broker the opportunity to revoke the Power of Attorney at any time.   
The Power of Attorney is a crucial piece of documentation that gives the forwarder/broker the vital information needed to begin handling “customs business” on behalf of the client.  It should be treated with much importance when establishing a relationship with a forwarder / broker. 
If you have additional questions about the Power of Attorney, please contact us or reach out to your Ascent Global Logistics representative directly.

Topics: International Freight Forwarding, Monthly Compliance Circular

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