National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee (NCBLAC) interviews for licence applicants

The National Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Committee (NCBLAC) is a statutory body under the Customs Act 1901 (the Act). Its functions include the assessment of customs broker licence applications, and the preparation of reports for the Comptroller-General of Customs.

NCBLAC also investigates customs brokers and/or brokerages which have been referred for issues such as non-compliance and makes recommendations to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on further action to be taken in respect of the licensee.

It comprises three members:

  • an independent Chair
  • an industry member
  • a Commonwealth member.

NCBLAC interviews—licence applications

Completed licence applications are provided to NCBLAC to review and assess; then make a recommendation to the Comptroller-General of Customs as to each applicant’s suitability to be a licensed customs broker. If an application does not adequately demonstrate that the applicant meets the core criteria it may be necessary for them to attend an interview conducted by NCBLAC.

This might be because, for example:

  • there are issues about whether or not the applicant is a fit and proper person or business to hold a licence
  • the applicant is seeking an exemption from the requirement to have completed an approved course of study or
  • the application does not sufficiently demonstrate that they have the level of acquired experience that would equip them to be a customs broker.

The need for an interview can add considerably to the time required to process an application.

The most frequent reason NCBLAC finds it necessary to conduct interviews is that applicants fail to provide enough detailed information when describing their acquired experience.

Where the applicant’s acquired experience is the issue in question, they should expect to be asked for details of their actual experience, and/or how they would respond to other areas of broker activity new to them. This will be done through reference to scenarios which, while theoretical in the interview, could well arise in the course of a licensed broker’s duties.

Applicants who put particular effort into the preparation of their Statement of Acquired Experience, and provide NCBLAC with enough information to fairly and accurately assess the applicant’s ability to operate as a licensed broker are much less likely to be called to an interview. Note that Corporate customs broker licence applicants are not required to provide a Statement of Acquired Experience.

The applicant is permitted to bring documents, or electronic equipment such as a tablet or laptop, but this is not essential. NCBLAC will be more interested in hearing what the applicant has to say—demonstrating that person’s knowledge and experience without needing to refer to other sources.

Interviews are held in private. Applicants may be accompanied by a person of their choice. An accompanying person may only be able to speak on behalf of the applicant with agreement from NCBLAC.

NCBLAC interviews are conducted in most capital cities. Also present at these interviews is a member of the Secretariat that supports NCBLAC. Interviews are audio recorded so that a written transcript can be prepared if necessary.