Baltimore Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association


The Baltimore Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association is an industry organization promoting and educating the Port of Baltimore business community since 1983.

Our mission is to promote, protect and facilitate business through and within our port. We represent the collective trade interests of our membership.  The BCBFA provides a network for the dissemination of educational information as well as a forum for addressing concerns and issues for our members and the trade community within the Port of Baltimore.

The 1940’s witnessed the emergence of the Freight Forwarder as a prominent partner in the industry. Transporting products to their ultimate destination became as important as getting those products cleared through Customs. On January 2, 1948, the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc., (CBFAA) was incorporated to succeed the previous New York Customs Brokers Association. Changes in the bylaws made forwarders eligible as regular members on a national basis, and as associate members on an international basis.

In the 1950s, members who grasped the need for change readied the Association. Foremost of these changes was a national vision as well as a national name change. Some of the individuals involved in this process were Martin A. “Marty” Kerner (grandfather of Heemsoth-Kerner Corp.’s President Martin E. Kerner, Jr.), Walter J. Mercer, Frank A. Hult, and Steve Masson of the Port of Baltimore. Association Director Sam Shapiro brought the presidents of the local associations to the CBFAA, giving them a stronger and more resounding voice.

On June 6, 1962, the Association changed its name to the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA), to better reflect a new and wider scope. Restructured dues funded a national staff. Border areas and region designations with appropriate representation found new members to shoulder the industry’s increasing business concerns. Membership was open to international air cargo agents in the United States (CNS/IATA) and non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Associate and Affiliate membership designations expanded.

In Baltimore, there were lots of exciting changes going on and the need for a local broker’s association grew along with the Port. Our group saw containerization of the cargo, and the automation of how information was transmitted to Customs with the advent of ABI.

Though not formally incorporated until 1983, the group was a vibrant and important part of the Maritime community all through the decades.

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