Patricia Compres, co-owner of Miami-based Advance Customs Brokers and Consultants, works in a 24-hour world, which doesn’t always align with the regular operating hours of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when it comes to securing necessary cargo inspections.
Advance Customs Brokers is Miami’s largest perishables broker specializing in the import of fresh fruits and vegetables from overseas, and time is of the essence to clear these products through CBP and get them on their way to store shelves.
“The Miami airport is a 24-hour operation,” Compres said. “Flights with our cargo arrive at all hours of the day and night.”
Realizing this challenge, Advance Customs Brokers recently applied to participate in CBP’s Reimbursable Services Program (RSP), which allows the private sector to call on CBP officers on a reimbursement basis to perform customs inspections and agricultural processing outside the normal workday. Depending on the service required, a company enrolled in the program is obligated to cover the CBP officers’ costs, such as salaries, benefits, overtime expenses, administration and transportation costs.
Now, if Advance Customs Brokers requires CBP agricultural inspections after 4 p.m. and before 7 a.m. at Miami International Airport, the company calls the agency’s office at the airport and makes the personnel request.
Compres said the customs broker plans to use the service sparingly. “It’s not a cheap proposition, but it’s there when you need it,” she said.
Since Advance Customs Brokers is a national broker, it will also use the program in other ports outside Miami, such as Los Angeles, New Liberty, New York’s JFK and Orlando international airports and the seaports at Savannah, Georgia; Philadelphia; Port Hueneme, California; Port of New York and New Jersey; and Port Everglades, Port Manatee and Tampa, Florida.
Advance Customs Brokers joins a growing list of customs brokers, carriers, air and marine terminal operators, and seaport and airport authorities utilizing the program. According to CBP, since RSP began in 2013, the agency has expanded it to 202 stakeholders, covering 148 U.S. ports of entry in 20 field offices.
“The Reimbursable Services Program provides an alternative source of funding for overtime services beyond CBP’s appropriated budget and allows our partners to target where they desire CBP to provide additional services,” a CBP spokesman said.
RSP does not set expirations for individual agreements, unless agreed to by the parties, a CBP spokesman said.
The Reimbursable Services Program was authorized by the 2002 Homeland Security Act and amended by the 2016 Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act to allow CBP to provide new or enhanced services on a reimbursable basis by creating partnerships with the private sector and government entities.