How To Become A Customs Agent

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is the largest law enforcement agency within the DHS, with preventing terrorists and weapons from entering the US being one of its main mission objectives. The CBP ensures the nation's security at all ports of entry and borders.

The CBP has a wide jurisdiction wherein its agents not only stop terrorists and illegal weapons from entering the borders but also perform the following duties:

  • Arresting individuals trying to enter the US illegally
  • Stopping the flow of illegal drugs
  • Enforcing US trade laws
  • Collecting import duties
  • Facilitating and regulating international trade
  • Enforcing US intellectual property rights laws
  • Protecting US agricultural and economic interests

Being the largest agency under the DHS, the CBP hires thousands of agents each year. Careers within the CBP are divided into two categories, Frontline Law Enforcement and Mission Critical Occupations and Operational and Mission Support Positions. The following fall in the former category:

  • CBP Agriculture Specialists
  • Air and Marine Interdiction Agents
  • CBP Officers
  • Border Patrol Agents
  • CBP Revenue Officers

Careers like intelligence research specialists, management analysts, IT specialists, fall under Operational and Mission Support Positions.

How To Become a Customs Agent?
Those working at the abovementioned positions are generally known as customs agents. Customs agents are trained according to their duties and their hiring criteria may be different from each other. If you want to become a CBP officer, for example, you must pass:

  • A thorough background investigation including a polygraph examination
  • A drug test
  • Two pre-employment fitness examinations
  • A medical examination
  • An interview

Those who are selected are then sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, for a period of 20 weeks of paid training. They are trained in:

  • Anti-terrorism skills
  • Firearms handling
  • U.S. Customs export and import laws
  • Arrest techniques
  • Passenger processing
  • Officer safety and survival
  • Examination of cargo

Those candidates who are selected to perform duties in Spanish-speaking areas are further given 6 weeks of Spanish language training. CBP has a Special Response Team as well, and those who are selected for it, are given an additional six weeks training with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit. CBP officers may choose their own duty region. They may select their duty region during the application phase which may not be changed after selection.

Customs Agent Jobs Description
CBP officers form the largest group of field operatives in the CBP and are empowered to:

  • Make arrests
  • Conduct searches
  • Serving orders and warrants
  • Bear firearms
  • Make seizures

They also stop the following criminal activities:

  • Money laundering
  • Weapons trafficking
  • Child pornography
  • Drug trafficking

They also identify high-risk individuals likely to perform terrorist activities in the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is therefore the biggest and the most important arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, assigned with the most critical task of keeping American borders and ports of entry safe and secure.


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