Local News

June 8, 2014

Miller passes customs broker exam

John L. Miller says he first got interested in international business while working as an in-house counsel for Shaw Industries.

“When I worked for Shaw and they were buying companies in, for instance, Australia, I went there a couple of times working on those transactions. Being in that arena, international business, was very interesting,” he said.

That experience, he says, is one reason he recently took the federal government’s customs broker exam and applied to be licensed as a customs broker as a complement to his practice as a lawyer.

“When someone imports goods into the country, it’s a complicated process,” Miller said. “There’s a lengthy form that has to be filled out. Each good has a classification, and that classification determines how much duty has to be paid to bring it into the country. A business owner often doesn’t have the expertise or even the time to get involved in this process. A customs broker represents the owner in dealing with customs.”

Miller took the exam in April and found out he passed in late May. He says the pass rate for the exam is no more than 10 percent or so.

Most customs brokers are based in port cities such as Savannah or Charleston, S.C., but Miller says there’s a need for them in Dalton, where companies do much international business.

Miller earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi and served as an in-house counsel for an insurance company in Atlanta for several years before moving to Dallas, Texas, serving in that same capacity for a company there.

“I came here about 20 years ago and worked for Shaw Industries, then I was in-house counsel for the Carpet and Rug Institute for several years after that,” he said.

That’s where he served on a trade advisory committee for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“We discussed the kind of issues that customs brokers deal with, and it was fascinating stuff. But I didn’t really know about customs brokers until I read an article about them several years ago in the Wall Street Journal and thought that it might be something I’d want to pursue,” he said.

Miller, who is now in private practice, said having a customs broker’s license can help him expand his practice and serve his clients better.

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