In this edition week’s edition of Shippers’ Guide, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Comrade Sir Alloy Anokwuru in this media chat with Ifeoma Oguamanam, enlightens you on what it takes to be a licensed customs agent, read and enjoy:
What does it entail to become a licensed customs agent?
To become a customs broker or a licensed customs agents first and foremost you have to pass through tutelage, that is to say the person must undergo training for about two years and for you to do this, one has to join a licensed association and for you to join, one has to get at least WAEC certificate or GCE ‘O’ level for that person to qualify for training, although some organizations don’t bother as soon as you come they will absolve you but it will get to a point when the person wants to get customs license their qualification will be required and the minimum qualification is either GCE ‘O’ level or secondary school certificate of West Africa(WAEC). It is mandatory and like I said you must be trained by a licensed organization or company for a period of not less than two years and maximum of up to 5years for you to be drilled in the profession, but this days you find out that some of us are not adequately trained in the sense that when a person is frustrated from somewhere, he will see a company and go to the manager who will put him on the shipping company authority and after one or two weeks he becomes a cleaning agent. It is not done like that. Before now, definitely you must pass through proper training for you to be able to work with the licensed association.
To be a licensed customs agent is there a particular amount of money one must have?
You don’t just become a customs agent, when you are licensed you become a customs broker and you cannot just become a customs broker without the necessary experience or qualification. Also, you will be required to have an office. That is, a registered company with a moveable vehicle registered in the company’s name, so that if there is need to convey customs to examination point you can take them there, that is one of the provisions that the act establishes preferably a bus, provided it is registered in the company’s name and you know how much a vehicle costs. That is to say that you must be equipped with all these before you now think of going for license.In the process of getting this license you must pass through series of interviews and that is why it is important to be educated to some extent because customs officers will ask you some basic questions, that will enable a person to obtain the license through the corporate organization he has established. So, definitely money is involved and the amount of money depends on the years of practice or what you have.
Minimum should be how much?
Minimum of getting licensed should be N3 million but before then you must have a corporate office equipped with computers because if at the end of the day the license is processed up to approval you will be requested to pay #500,000 for customs, pay #350,000 for bank bonds, so plus other little charges here and there it’s about a million naira. The customs will come to inspect the office and the office is expected to be equipped with computer and books relating to customs procedures so it has to meet up with the requirements.
How long must one practice to qualify for obtaining the customs license?
For you to be qualified, like I earlier mentioned, one has to practice for 10years,if you really want to go for the interview but I think what happens this days is that some people now hire people to go for interviews for them, but for you to stand on your own with all the necessary requirements you must have practiced from between 5years to 10years.
Which department issues this license?
The License and Permit Office, but all is rooted through a particular command to the Controller General of Customs. We were told that they bring it down to license and permit at the headquarters after inspection, but the inspection will be carried out by the command where the license will be established. For instance, if you apply through KLT at the end of day it will be them that will go for the inspection and now recommend for license to be issued to the company through the CAC, the CAC of that command will forward it to the CG who would in turn send it to the DCG in charge of license and permit to the ACG to the Controller who will now give you the license. This is an authority for you to function as a clearing and forwarding broker or company because they don’t give license to individuals they issue license to companies.
This process you just explained, how long does it take?
It all depends on how fast you are and how readily available, if all this things are put in place, it takes you between one month to three months to get your license because as you have your documents your vehicle particulars and office ready ,it will hasten the process ,and once you go to customs and they ask you , if you are ready, they take a date and before you know it one morning they will come for the inspection and when they come and all the requirements are in place , definitely they don’t waste time, provided you pay your money early too.
What makes a good customs broker?
The truth is that this job is based on trust, so if you ask me what makes a good licensed customs broker, I would say the fear of God because if you have the fear of God, people will be able to trust you and if there is no trust nobody comes to you. You must be experienced to have the fear of God. If no lies, no delay, people will notice where you belong.
What is the percentage of licensed Customs agent?
The tight economic situation in the country make people come to the field that is readily available to accommodate people and I think this is the only occupation now that can take people without first asking for your qualification or money.