7 Excellent Reasons to Invest in Trade Compliance Education

education financingToday’s business climate is fast paced. Time is limited and precious, and there is always a long list of tasks to accomplish. So why would you take valuable time out of your busy schedule to attend a trade compliance seminar or webinar?

Like any good business person worth their salt, let’s examine the Return on Investment (ROI). Obviously the seminar or webinar topic has to have some relevance to your business. Here are some questions a potential attendee may ponder on as they contemplate the decision to attend or not:

  • Is there a way my company can save money?
  • Will it improve a process?
  • Will it provide potential insight to solve a problem?
  • Will it provide valuable knowledge to move a project along?
  • Is the topic one that cannot easily be ignored? (e.g. compliance issues)


What is Trade Compliance?

Trade compliance refers to importers and exporters meeting all of the requirements governing the movement of commercial goods across the border. To be trade compliant is to ensure that the tariff classification, origin and valuation of goods are all accurately declared in accordance with legislative requirements and that the appropriate duties and taxes are paid. There is a clear obligation under the Customs Act to provide true, accurate and complete trade information, including a proper description of the goods, and to correct wrong information regardless of dutiable status. Furthermore, an essential part of trade compliance is to ensure that all import requirements are met, such as having the appropriate import permit. If not all import requirements are met, this violates the control measures that are in place to protect the economy, the environment and the health of citizens.

The Importance of Trade Compliance:

In recent years, the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have shifted much of their emphasis from import inspections to post audit verifications. The responsibilities put upon Importers of Record have steadily increased as all members of the supply chain endure higher scrutiny from Customs officials. Now more than ever it is imperative that the Importer of Record maintain a high level of sophistication, demonstrate due diligence, ensure they understand their responsibilities, implement internal sets of controls and procedures for best practices as well as understand the consequences of non-compliance.

International trade no longer stands on the sidelines of corporate awareness. It is being transformed from an operational function into an evolving eco-system that helps mitigate organizational risks and strategically drives value. In order to do business efficiently, smart businesses need to strike a balance between ensuring timely movement of cross-border goods and complying with complex regulatory systems designed to ensure safe, verifi­able cross-border transactions. Effective global customs planning can help improve a company’s bottom line.

Benefits of Attending a Trade Compliance Seminar or Webinar:

1. Gain Insight on Key Trade Topics

A well designed seminar or webinar will help you gain a better understanding of key trade topics, teach you how to manage trade compliance and utilize free trade agreements to your benefit. The substantial knowledge you receive will aid in completing accurate documentation, understanding logistics and getting a feel for how transactions move through the regulatory process.

2. Stay Current on Customs Regulations

In our industry, where we deal with Customs and other government agencies, regulations are ever-changing. A trade compliance seminar or webinar can be a convenient way for trade professionals to stay ahead of new regulations with international trade.

3. Avoid Possible Penalties and Risks By Being Informed

Customs agencies and other government departments emphasize the importance of compliance. This is monitored through increased enforcement and could result in monetary penalties to the importer. One of the most important reasons to attend a seminar or webinar is the knowledge and guidance you will receive from the presenters with regards to the steps your organization will need to take to become more compliant with government agencies.

4. Cost-effective Training and Knowledge Refreshment Tool for Logistics Professionals

Seminars and webinars make for excellent training for someone in a new role, a new employee, or training for yourself. Quite often we have repeat attendees who regularly register on an annual or bi-annual basis. Part of our Trade Compliance Education Program covers general overviews of importing or exporting, but we also offer training on specific subjects (e.g. North American Free Trade Agreement, H.S. Tariff & Classification), thus providing an excellent opportunity for companies to utilize this as a cost-effective training tool.

5. Access to Trade Compliance Experts

A well designed seminar and webinar should include adequate time for audience participation or a valid opportunity at the conclusion to get answers to your questions. A live seminar gives you the chance to personally speak to the presenter(s) or other subject matter experts, while a live webinar usually offers this in a Q&A session. We all agree that sometimes the best experiences occur when there are excellent inquiries that promote further ideas and discussion, particularly when you thought you were the only one with that challenge.

6. Reasonable Time Commitment

The ability to obtain some specific knowledge in a short period of time is an added benefit. Night school courses are requisite for more in-depth subject learning but often you need something that is less intensive but still provides substantial knowledge.  Half or full day seminars or an hour long webinar is an excellent way to get a quick update.

7. Networking – Make Valuable Professional Connections

A live seminar and webinar allows you to network and learn alongside other like-minded professionals, coming away with increased knowledge and understanding. Perhaps you will encounter a person who had a similar business problem to yours, or someone who can share their own experience on a certain issue and provide you with valuable insight.

Here is a quote from an attendee at one of our recent Trade Compliance Seminars  “… it’s always interesting to have an informal conversation with compliance people from other industries.” Which brings up another great point – where else would you have a chance to rub shoulders with people of similar business interests?

Hopefully this has inspired you to take the next steps in your trade compliance education. Check out our Spring 2015 Trade Compliance Education Schedule online or download and print your copy of the 2015 Spring Trade Compliance Education Schedule below:

We hope you’ll join us and encourage you to share this with colleagues and business partners who might find it useful.

Do you have questions about our trade compliance education program? Use the comments section below to leave us your thoughts or email Ask Your Broker.


11 Reasons Why a Carrier Would Need to See a Customs Broker

Numbers-one-600A driver’s cross border journey is so much more than picking up freight and proceeding with delivery. Crossing international borders, especially with commercial freight, means complying with the rules of the governing country.

There are many aspects for the carrier to consider when planning their journey: transportation permits, routes, road conditions, hours and what customs requirements apply to the goods on board.

While most entries must be transmitted to the CBSA electronically for review, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. Here is a list of those exceptions to help give you a better understanding of some of the reasons you or your driver may have to stop your journey along the way:

  1. Invoice lines in excess of 999 lines — When an invoice covers a large number of purchased goods, it can take a customs broker quite some time to key it line by line. This is why customs has allowed entries exceeding 250 lines to be presented as a paper entry to help expedite the clearance process.
  2. Multiple Highway Cargo Control numbers at frontier
  3. Courier Low Value Shipment rejected from consist (2500CAD or less)
  4. Other government department permit or certificate required — There are certain goods that cannot be released electronically because they require a permit, certificate or license to be presented to CBSA. An example of this would be vehicles that require Form 1 or fire arms that require a special permit.
  5. System outage (ie. customs broker, CBSA or CFIA)
  6. Shortages, Entered to Arrive, Value Included — These goods are reported when the quantity of goods originally reported to the CBSA is different from that received by the importer or broker.
  7. Provisional — When the importer/owner or broker cannot establish a final value for duty of goods at the time of importation. In such cases, goods may be released under the interim accounting provisions.
  8. Prime & ETAs — When an item is too large to fit on one truck and transportation of the goods will be split up onto a number of trucks.
  9. Used self propelled vehicles — Goods that require U.S .customs authorization to export before they will be CBSA released.
  10. Used machinery requiring inspection — Goods that may have soil or dirt present must be inspected to ensure that the proper cleaning precautions have been taken.
  11. CBSA has requested to see a paper declaration


In any of the above cases, the customs broker will instruct you or your driver to come into their office to collect a paper package, which they will have prepared in advance. After obtaining instruction from the customs broker, you will proceed to the customs booth and advise the border service officer (BSO) that you need to see your customs broker. The border service officer will instruct you where to park while you take care of your documentation.

Once you’ve visited the customs broker and have obtained the paper package, those documents need to be presented to CBSA for their release decision. If release has been granted, Customs will stamp your paperwork released and you may then proceed with final delivery.

Do your due diligence and always ensure that your entries are good to go before proceeding to the border. By doing this, it gives you and the customs broker an opportunity to communicate any special instructions to each other.

What do you think? Leave us your questions or comments below or email Ask Your Broker.


‘Interesting Cocktails’ with Jonathan Whitworth from Seaspan

Topic: How Seaspan Implemented a $170M Capital Expansion Project On Time and Under Budget

Join AmCham Canada – Pacific Chapter for their upcoming event with an inspiring guest speaker, and a chance to network with like-minded business professionals.

  • Speaker: Jonathan Whitworth, CEO, Seaspan
  • Date: 18 February 2015
  • Time: 5:00 PM-7:00 PM Pacific Time
  • Place: Hyatt Regency, Grouse Room
  • Host: No-Host Bar (Guests pay for their drinks); Hors D’oeuvers served
  • Cost: Members:$20; Non-Member: $50
  • RSVP: Please complete and return this registration form to AmCham Canada – Pacific Chapter via email at events@amchampacific.com or call 855.542.6623.

[Note: Tickets will not be mailed; we will confirm your purchase by email and names will be confirmed at the door.]

  • RSVP Deadline: Monday, February 16, 2015

Profile Picture: Jonathan Whitworth

About Jonathan Whitworth:

Jonathan Whitworth joined Seaspan in 2009 as Chief Executive Officer, bringing over twenty years of seagoing, shoreside, strategic planning, management and leadership experience to Seaspan.  Seaspan has the largest fleet of tugs and barges in Canada, owns a fleet of ferries which operates between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, and operates three shipyards.  Seaspan traces its roots in the Port of Vancouver back to 1886, and the appointment of Jonathan as CEO is the first time a mariner has held the top job since Captain James CF Stewart held the position almost forty years ago.  Seaspan has recently gone through a number of transformational events, including in 2011 winning the largest Federal Government contract ever awarded in British Columbia.

Jonathan is a second generation mariner, and he started his sailing career when he sailed to South America on a tramp freighter at the age of 11, without his father or any other family member.  His last voyage as a ship’s officer took him around the world aboard a chemical carrier which commenced and ended in Singapore and spanned over 130 days.

Jonathan not only has a love of the ocean and ships, but also the business of shipping.  After obtaining his MBA, he decided to end his sailing career and had the opportunity to focus on the finance, logistics and the strategy behind what makes a shipping company work and succeed.  He held a number of management positions at ExxonMobil and Vancouver’s very own Teekay Shipping.  He later became CEO of Maritrans Inc., the largest publicly held U.S. flag tug/barge and tanker operator in the US.  With the help of an outstanding team, the stock price for Maritrans grew over 300% in three short years before being sold to the second largest publicly held tanker company in the world, Overseas Shipholding Group.  Jonathan left OSG in 2009, at which time he was hired by Seaspan and moved his family to beautiful British Columbia.

Who should attend:

Business owners, CEOs, senior executives, decision makers, entrepreneurs and business professionals in the import/export arena will find this of particular interest. This event is open to all Canadian and U.S. businesses, large and small with a vested interest in cross-border trade and forming new business relationships.

Please share this with colleagues who might be interested.

For more information, visit  www.amchampacific.com

What is ‘Interesting Cocktails’?

Interesting Cocktails’ is AmCham Canada – Pacific Chapter’s monthly networking event, featuring a guest speaker with expertise in foreign exchange. Speakers bring insightful presentations on various business topics and current business challenges.  It is a casual evening and a great opportunity to network and ask questions of industry professionals.


Related blog post:


Kicking Off This Week: Trade Compliance Education Program 2015 Spring Season

Seminar and webinarsComing from a successful 2014 trade compliance education season, Pacific Customs Brokers is excited to announce another season chock-full of seminars, workshops and webinars. The 2015 spring season is slated to run from February 5, 2015 to May 21, 2015. Whether you are an importer or exporter trying to understand current trade regulations or planning your professional development this year, we have some excellent programs lined up for you.

If you have never attended one of our courses before, the following information might help you decide on attending the next one.

1. Seminars and Workshops

At these in-person sessions, our experts share their knowledge on cross-border and international shipping. They will keep you current with customs and other government department regulations. You will learn the best practices on being compliant as an importer and/or exporter, helping you expedite shipments rather than trigger costly delays. The benefits of attending an in-person seminar or workshop include:

  • All day access – Get our experts to answer your questions one-on-one
  • Range of topics – Choose from a wider variety of seminar topics than offered in our webinar format
  • Certificate of Completion – Receive a certificate for each course you attend
  • Case studies and real-life examples – Examine other attendees’ trade compliance issues
  • Networking – Connect with other like-minded professionals
  • Handouts – Take home your own set of course material
  • Industry recognized sessions – Earn points towards maintenance of your industry designations

2. Webinars

Our webinars are designed to meet the demands of the global trade community. These live webinars are a convenient way for trade professionals to stay ahead of new regulations with international trade and gain additional knowledge in key areas. The benefits of attending an online course include:

  • Global accessibility – Travel is removed from the equation for companies with multiple locations or branches
  • Cost-effectiveness – Half the cost of attending one of our in-class sessions
  • Concise training – In a fast-paced industry, efficiency becomes just as important as staying compliant
  • Convenience – Attend from the comfort of your desk


New This Spring Season

We’re always looking for new ways to improve our education program. This season we have added some new components to our Trade Compliance Education Program which include:

(i) New location added

We’ll be bringing our sessions to downtown Vancouver this season. Starting with the U.S. Trade Compliance Explained on March 12 and Canadian Trade Compliance Explained on March 19, we will head to UBC Robson Square to make our sessions more accessible.

(ii) Further accreditation and recognition for professional development

The Law Society of British Columbia and professional accounting associations have joined the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) and the NCBFAA Educational Institute (NEI) in accrediting many of our courses for professional development credits.

(iii) Online registration

In addition to our traditional registration methods, you can now conveniently register and pay for a course online with a few simple clicks. It is the fastest and most convenient way for you to register. But if you still prefer traditional modes of communication, we continue to accept registrations via email or fax. Download this form to complete an offline registration.

(iv) New presenter added to team

We’ve added a new speaker to the seminar roster. A hearty welcome to Mike Wright, Licensed Customs Broker, Certified Customs Specialist and CIFFA graduate who brings with him over 25 years of experience in Canadian customs brokerage.


For more information, to register or view a complete listing, visit the upcoming calendar section of our website. You can also download and print your copy of the 2015 Spring Trade Compliance Education Schedule below:

New seminars are added regularly, and we invite you to check back in with us. If there are topics you would like to have covered in our education program, please let us know. If you would like to be notified via email of upcoming seminars, workshops and webinars, please subscribe to our weekly trade newsletter.


Do you have questions about our trade compliance education program? Use the comments section below to leave us your thoughts or email Ask Your Broker.


Additional Resources


A First Look At Importing Wooden Décor into Canada

wooden figurine

When importing goods that fall under tariff items 4420.10, 4420.90, 4421.90 or 9505.10 such as statuettes, other ornaments of wood and articles for Christmas festivities containing wooden components, the following information is required to ensure admissibility under Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) import requirements:

  • Thickness of wood  – Is it greater than, less than or equal to 1.5 cm thick?
  • Finish of the article – Is the article completely finished for example painted, lacquered, etc, or unfinished?
  • Wooden bark – Does the item contain bark?

It is strongly recommended that this information is clearly indicated on the invoice for each shipment prior to the documents being submitted to your customs brokers. If the required information is not provided then affected importers will be contacted however, this can potentially result in delays in customs clearance.

Goods classified under these headings that are less than 1.5 cm thick will most likely be approved for import with no additional document requirements.

Goods classified under these headings that are greater 1.5 cm thick, depending on your origin, could require any or all of the following:

  • Plant Protection Import Permit
  • Phytosanitary Certificate
  • Phytosanitary Certificate for Re-export

Recently, we have encountered several transactions containing decorative wood products where the invoice description did not provide on the thickness, whether it was a is completely finished article or if it contained bark. After the goods were released the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) contacted the importer to perform an inspection on the shipment. Many products were found to exceed 1.5 cm thickness and were of foreign origin. This resulted in a Phytosanitary Certificate for Re-export being required.  As this was not prepared at the time of export, the supplier was not able to produce the required documents. Therefore the CFIA forced the importer to destroy the goods in question at the importers expense.

Should you need more information, please contact your local CFIA office at: Area and Regional Offices