Archive for the ‘Canada Customs’ Category


11 Steps to Importing Canadian Entrepreneurs Must Know

Importing into Canada for EntrepreneursWhether you’re looking to diversify your product line or leverage cheaper-made merchandise, importing into Canada can be an importing business activity for many Canadian entrepreneurs.

As a prospective entrepreneur or new business owner in Canada, consider the following steps as you navigate through the complexities of international markets.


1. Develop a strategic business plan.

A viable business plan is not only vital to your success but also a tool in measuring your business’ progress. As you start writing your plan, you’ll want to make a number of key business decisions such as:

  • Decide if you will be importing into or exporting from Canada
  • Identify the risks associated with your import or export activity
  • Choose the right name for your business


2. Register your business for import activities.

It is a good idea to be proactive and tend to all your registration and licensing requirements with municipal, provincial and federal governments early in the process. Once you complete these steps, you will have the necessities such as a Business Number (BN), registered business name and a GST/HST account. Your Business Number is your single account number for dealing with the federal government regarding taxes, payroll, import/export and other activities.

Canada Revenue Agency’s Business Registration Online is the one-stop-shop for all of your federal business registration requirements.


3. Invest early in trade compliance education.

Starting out with a good understanding of customs regulations and requirements, the use of Incoterms® and the means of payment are key to international trade success. Enrolling in trade compliance education in the early stages of planning 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.


4. Identify the type of goods you want to import or export and research their admissibility.

Besides having an accurate description of the goods you plan to import/ export, you also need to find out if these goods are prohibited, restricted or regulated by other government departments. In addition to Canada Border Services Agency, there are over 10 other government departments (OGDs) that are involved in the importation, in-transit movement and exportation of various commodities in and out of Canada. If your goods are regulated they may require special permits, certificates, licenses, special labeling, or a specific type of packaging (i.e. child resistant) depending on the commodity.


Use this search tool by Canada Business to find out what permits and licences your business may need from the federal, provincial and municipal governments.


For imports into Canada, in addition to identifying the good you want to import you will need to:

  • Identify the country of origin, manufacturer and export of the goods.
  • Determine whether the goods are controlled, regulated or prohibited by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or any other government department.
  • Use this Step-by-Step Guide to Importing from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to find out if the goods you want to import are prohibited or restricted.
  • Canada has a range of goods over which it imposes import controls. These goods are listed in the Import Control List (ICL) of the Export and Import Permits Act.


CBSA has compiled the following list of commonly imported commodities that may require permits, certificates, and/or are subject to other requirements:

5. Determine tariff classification, rate of duties and taxes, value for duty

Once you are sure that the goods can be imported into Canada, you must determine the:

  • Tariff classification;
  • Applicable tariff treatment;
  • Rate of duty; and
  • Taxes payable when importing goods.

Every commodity that clears through Customs must have an accurate and correct Harmonized System code (HS code) applied to it. This code identifies the item to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as well as indicates the duty rate payable.   Classifying commodities correctly is key with regards to the importer paying the correct amount of duty and avoiding Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalties, or worse, seizure of your goods.

This Step-by-Step Guide to Importing from the Canada Border Services Agency gives details on all of these and an example of how to calculate duties and taxes.


6. Take advantage of free trade agreements (FTAs)

Free trade agreements (FTAs) are agreements made between countries that desire to reduce trade barriers on goods manufactured in their respective countries. FTAs allow for preferential duty treatment to items that qualify from certain countries. They can impact exports by reducing or eliminating duty rates for qualifying goods.

Canada has free trade agreements with the United States, Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Israel, Jordan, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. For more information on the respective Canadian Free Trade Agreements, visit the Trade Negotiations and Agreements section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.


7. Determine if you will be using the services of a customs broker.

A customs brokers can help you:

  • Obtain documentation that has been prepared for the shipment/contract
  • Review the prepared documentation for completeness and compliance with customs regulations
  • Prepare and submit a declaration to Customs on your behalf at the port of arrival


Aside from submitting a declaration on your behalf, customs brokers can also help your company reduce costs, improve efficiency, and mitigate risks related to cross-border trade. Most companies who import goods into Canada find that it is far too expensive and time consuming to travel to the facility or port of arrival where their goods are held awaiting clearance, prepare a formal declaration for Canada Border Services Agency, pay the charges due and then anticipate delivery of their product. It can be worth the investment up-front, to at least consult with a customs broker in the planning stages, so that you can have a clear understanding of your risks and proper tariff classifications.


8. Plan the transportation (shipping) of your goods overseas.

At this stage you will need to determine how involved you want to be in the process of getting the goods from source to destination and if you will be using the services of a freight forwarder. A professional freight forwarder is a critical link in the supply chain, and can assist your company in determining all costs included in a sales contract.

Next, you will need to identify the mode of transportation that will be used (highway, marine, rail, air, postal or courier service). This will lead you into selecting the method of shipping and communicating with the transportation company on cross-border requirements.


9. Identify your terms of sale.

With the expansion of global trade it has never been easier to find sources for goods worldwide and then sell directly to your clients. That being said, before you embark on this journey, you will need to know the rules of international commerce otherwise known as Incoterms® . It is important to identify your terms of sale as they clarify your shipping responsibilities and iron out your landed costs.

To learn more about Incoterms®, visit the Incoterms® Rules for a short description of the 11 rules from the Incoterms® 2010 edition.


10. Evaluate the right payment program for your business.

There are several options for obtaining release of your goods. You may prepare the release and accounting documents yourself or you may hire a licensed customs broker to do so on your behalf. It is important to note that these companies or individuals are not government employees and importers must pay a fee for their services.


There are basically three different payment methods available:


  1. Direct security – this is where you would have your own bond and security posted with Customs, but this may not be a viable option if you are a new company. When this is in place, you would pay Customs on the last business day of the month for amounts owing on your statement.  If payment is late, penalties would apply and possible suspension of deferred payment privileges.


  1. Goods and services tax (GST) direct – Once you are a GST Registrant, you can opt to pay Customs on the last day of the month, but without posting a bond and obtaining your own security.  This does not cover duty, only GST.  The same conditions apply as above for late payment.


  1. Use of a customs broker’s bond – Customs brokers already have bonds in place with Canada Customs, but would charge a fee for use of their bond.   You may need to post a deposit or meet other criteria for this to happen.  If you think this is the right option for you, speak to a customs broker to find out their requirements.


For more details on this topic visit the following links on the CBSA website:


11. Align your trade compliance practices with your business objectives.


The key to managing the customs compliance of your business is to be informed. Whether you have a custom broker that handles your compliance or you take care of them yourself, it is good practice to be aware of how customs regulations apply specifically to your business. While an experienced custom broker can review your business activity for best practices, assuming that they will is often an oversight by importers. It is important to designate a person within your organization to monitor Customs activity and deal with your customs broker when needed.


It is in an importer’s best interest to regularly review their Customs process, stay up to date with changing regulations and prepare to withstand a Customs audit. Make sure your internal procedures, documents, tariff classification, free trade agreements, valuation and origins are in compliance with Customs requirements. Additionally, understanding the links between your internal operations, accounting and Customs procedures can help address any shortcomings. Part of a winning formula is to ensure that your business plan includes a strategy for monitoring compliance over time.


As you prepare to import your product to Canada, we hope this information will help you plan for a successful start to your entrepreneurship journey.

Get Sound Advice and Current Training:

Pacific Customs Brokers provides advice and trade compliance seminars and webinars to entrepreneurs interested in importing. To schedule a one-to-one trade advisory consultation with our Trade Advisor contact us at For a complete list of upcoming sessions visit the Trade Compliance Education and Development section of our website.

eManifest: Proof of Report and Proof of Release – Know the Difference

Wooden StampPrior to ACI eManifest, a CBSA stamp on a carrier’s PARS document acted as both Proof of Report and Proof of Release. With the implementation of ACI eManifest, this is no longer the case.


All goods imported or moving in transit through Canada must be reported to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the First Port of Arrival (FPOA) in Canada. Submission of electronic ACI eManifest data within the prescribed pre-arrival timeframes, when combined with the arrival of conveyance (truck) in Canada satisfies the requirement for “Report of Goods” as per Section 12.(1) of the Customs Act.

When the truck arrives at the FPOA, the Border Services Officer will “arrive” the conveyance (truck) in the CBSA system. The CBSA acknowledges the arrival of the conveyance (truck) by sending an electronic  notification to the operator of the truck as identified by the CBSA Carrier Code on the Conveyance report or lead sheet submitted by the driver to the Border Services Officer at the FPOA.This electronic message indicates the carrier has met their obligation to report under Section 12(1) of the Customs Act for all shipments (Cargo Control Numbers) detailed on the cargo submissions that are linked to that truck. The Border Services Officer (BSO) will also stamp the conveyance report, commonly referred to as an ACI lead sheet, providing the carrier with physical proof that they have met this obligation.


Release of goods reported at the FPOA must have a release document submitted by the importer or customs broker to the CBSA at the port which is linked to the CCN reported on the conveyance report. CBSA will transmit notification of release via the Release Notification System (RNS) to participants, indicating whether each shipment has been released. The RNS message is associated to the CCN on the truck. This RNS message is Proof of Release of the goods. CBSA will continue to stamp each individual Cargo Control Document which also represents Proof of Release. This must be at the request of the driver and depending on the number of cargo documents, this may not be done at the primary inspection booth. The driver may be referred inside for this action to occur.



CBSA will only accept the following as proof:

Proof of Report

  • Stamped ACI Lead sheet; or
  • Section 12(1) report from Portal or Third Party service Provider or EDI.


Proof of Release

  • CBSA stamp on each individual cargo control document; or
  • RNS messaging through a 3rd party Service Provider or EDI


We strongly encourage highway carriers that are not participants in the Release Notification System (RNS) to advise their drivers to insist on having each and every PARS stamped at the Canadian border.


Our Border Pro for Carriers eManifest filing services can assist you in submitting all relevant information to Canada Customs within the required time period to ensure your trucks cross the border as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Have questions?

If you have any questions about ACI eManifest, please do not hesitate to contact our Carrier Relations Liaison at 855.542.6644 or via email at

Want to learn more about ACI eManifest?

Our ACI eManifest Seminars and Webinars are 90-minute sessions where we answer questions, offer practical solutions and help with the ACI eManifest regulations in effect. These sessions are presented by Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon Commercial Operations. Jan is now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada).

For details and to register »

Is your business ready for the implementation of ACI eManifest? We welcome your questions and comments in our comments section below.


Additional Resource:

Surprise! Unexpected Costs to Plan For When Importing into Canada

CostAfter months of effort, you successfully establish a solid foreign source for a product line. You have met with the manufacturer and are confident with the company and their ability to produce a quality product that meets your criteria and time frame. You have determined packaging and labeling requirements, sought out a good freight forwarder to manage the movement of the goods, and have carefully researched the customs clearance process with your customs broker. Incoterms®, terms of sale, financing, tariff classification, import documents – everything is in order. In short, you have done all your homework to purchase the right product for the right price to get it to the right place at the right time.

So would you anticipate paying any other costs to import your goods? Probably not – because you have carefully covered all possibilities. However, let’s look at some of those unexpected fees that could occur. Some which are preventable and some which could happen even if you have done everything correctly.

4 commonly overlooked import costs:

1. Customs exams

Customs ExaminationsMost of these are totally unavoidable. As the front line of defense for goods entering a country, any customs agency in the world has the right to examine goods and will never divulge their process for determining which shipments are examined and which are not. If this is your company’s first import, it will definitely be examined and as the importer you will be responsible for all costs associated with the Customs examination. In particular, you can expect an increased chance for an exam if you are importing from overseas for the very first time, or if you import from countries which could be deemed to be a higher risk.

Potential costs

  • Depending on the type of CBSA examination, full ocean container inspections can range from $550 – $3500 CAD. Variables such as how the goods are packed in the container, if they are palletized play a role in the costs associated with an exam.
  • Less Than Container Load (LCL) shipments are significantly lower in examination costs and start around $35 CAD.


2. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) exams

There are many other government departments involved with the importation of goods, however, the CFIA is the predominate one. They are Canada’s watchdog when it comes to imports of food, meat, fruit and vegetables, plants and flower bulbs to name but a few of the products under their governance. This also gives them the authority to conduct their own examinations independently from Canada Customs. Quite often these examinations are done on site for regular importers, however, the CFIA will determine this based on their own criteria.

Wood Packaging MaterialsWood packaging examinations are done under CBSA control for the CFIA, using their contracted carriers and bonded facilities. These costs can range from $1200- $3500, depending on the packaging, time spent unloading and loading into the container. Wood packaging is taken seriously because of the possible effects that insects can have in Canada.

Potential costs:

  • There are usual costs that the CFIA issues for standard inspections but if goods are held in detention the costs could be over $100 CAD/hour. For more information on these costs visit: Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice
  • If the CFIA finds bugs (dead or alive) inside a shipment, the shipment will be fumigated and ordered to be exported from Canada, at the importer’s expense.

Are these avoidable? The latter situation is, however the CFIA works in a similar approach to CBSA and has the right to examine shipments as they determine.

3. Demurrage, detention and storage fees:

Storage containersThese are fees usually assessed for rail or ocean freight movements when free time has expired.

Generally the free time allotted can range from 1 day to 3 days. The amount of free time that you have to move the container from the dock or rail yard will largely depend on several factors:

  1. Mode of transportation (rail – 1 day or ocean – 3 days)
  2. Terminal location (for example, Vancouver could be different than Montreal)
  3. Shipping line or freight consolidator (in the event of less than container load freight)

Your best course of action is to stay in close communication with your freight forwarder and customs broker to verify who is looking after the final delivery once the container arrives at the terminal. Having all documents and instructions in place before the shipment arrives will also prove helpful.

Potential costs:

  • Based on the aforementioned factors the storage rates for a full container range from about $126 – $252 USD per day for the first 5 days, and increase after that.
  • There will also be demurrage costs for the container itself payable to the steamship line if there are delays. These costs range from approximately $200 – $300 USD per day.
  • In many cases the daily rate will continue to increase if freight remains at the terminal longer from one to three days. Rates will increase after so many days as well.


4. AMPS penalties

AMPS PenaltiesAMPS is an acronym for the Administrative Monetary Penalty System which came into effect in 2002. AMPS covers a wide range of importing and exporting infractions where the penalties are administered by the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) and could be issued at either the time of entry into Canada, or during an audit or import review.

Potential AMPS penalty amounts:

  • There is a broad range of penalties from $150 – $25,000 CAD.

It is important to note that in most cases penalties increase with subsequent occurrences of the same infraction. Therefore if you do receive an AMPS penalty please put procedures in place to avoid future penalties which can only become more costly.

How to keep these importing costs down:

1. Gain a better understanding of your responsibilities

Pacific Customs Brokers hosts a series of trade compliance seminars and webinars throughout the year to help importers and exporters stay current with changing regulations. In particular, our Canadian Customs Compliance and Audit Seminar will take you through the importance of complying with customs regulations and what you can do to assure that you meet all of the requirements governing the movement of commercial goods

Browse our upcoming calendar and register for the next session!

2. Build a compliance program with your customs broker

An experienced customs broker can assist you with the different facets of compliance under the CBSA. For a review of some of the key areas, please refer to our blog article – Topics You Should Include When Documenting Your Import Process.

Pacific Customs Brokers’ Trade Advisors have years of experience helping importers and exporters save as much time and money as possible all while keeping you trade compliant.

We can create tools and systems that you can implement to reduce your import risk. We can help with books and record keeping systems, customs procedure and compliance manuals as well as  in-house compliance audits. We will guide you on CBSA’s  “reason to believe”, why self auditing is important, when you should self correct past entries, the timelines to do so and prepare you in case of a Customs audit.

Consult a Trade Advisor today!

The Bottom Line:

It’s better to ask than assume. No one likes unpleasant, particularly costly, surprises especially at a time when profit margins are slim and time frames are short. The intent of this information is to make importers aware of some of the unforeseen situations so they can be best prepared when making a foreign purchase.


Have you encountered unexpected cost when importing into Canada? Share your comments below or email us at Ask Your Broker.


5 Frequently Asked Questions About ACI eManifest – Part 2

FAQ about eManifest

As highway carriers struggle with the challenges presented to their business by ACI emanifest regulations and strive to get compliant, we frequently receive enquiries that need clarification. In the coming weeks, we’ll feature five frequently asked questions about ACI eManifest. Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Commercial Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon districts and now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada) will answer your questions about ACI emanifests and compliance.

So what are highway carriers’ biggest questions this week?

1. Do I still have to get my individual PARS stamped?

The CBSA officer will continue to stamp individual PARS at the request of the carrier. As the stamp on the lead sheet only represents “proof of report” carriers that are not RNS participants may want to continue to get individual PARS stamped as proof of release.

Learn more: ACI eManifest: Know the Difference Between Proof of Report and Proof of Release


2. Does ACI eManifest replace A8A cargo control documents?

No, ACI eManifest has not replaced the A8A cargo control document requirements. Carriers must still submit an A8A when moving shipments in-bond from the FPOA to an inland destination.

There are also some shipments that are subject to exceptional processing such as Temporary Admission permits (E29B and ATA Carnets, Orders in Council (OIC) and personal goods. Although these exceptional processes still require advance cargo and conveyance data to be transmitted, a paper manifest must also be provided for acquittal purposes.

3. Can I use someone else’s carrier code?

Yes and no. You can report cargo using someone else’s carrier code but the conveyance report must be filed using the carrier code of the carrier that is the owner of the conveyance carrying the goods across the border into Canada. If you do not currently have a carrier code, you will need to apply for one ASAP.

4. Can I still move shipments in bond?

Yes. For goods that move in-bond, the CBSA port of destination and CBSA sub-location warehouse code associated with that inland port must be provided electronically in advance. The warehouse operator at the destination warehouse must be a Release Notification System (RNS) participant. They will be required to acknowledge receipt of the freight by transmitting an electronic arrival message to the CBSA. When the CBSA has released the shipment, the carrier will receive an RNS message (if they are a RNS participant).


5. How can I learn more about ACI eManifest? 

Many highway carriers and importers have found our  ACI eManifest Seminars and Webinars to be very informative and helpful. In these 90-minute sessions we answer questions, offer practical solutions and help with the ACI eManifest regulations in effect.

For details and to register »


We hope this post helps answer some of your questions. If you have other questions about ACI eManifest, we invite you to leave them in our comments section below or email us at


For regular updates on this topic consider following Pacific Customs Brokers @askborderpro.

5 Frequently Asked Questions About ACI eManifest

FAQ about eManifest

As highway carriers struggle with the challenges presented to their business by ACI emanifest regulations and strive to get compliant, we frequently receive enquiries that need clarification. In the coming weeks, we’ll feature five frequently asked questions about ACI eManifest. Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Commercial Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon districts and now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada) will answer your questions about ACI emanifests and compliance.

So what are highway carriers’ biggest questions?

1. How will the ACI eManifest program work?

Carriers are now required to electronically transmit cargo and conveyance data to CBSA for all shipments entering Canada. Submissions must be received and validated by the CBSA as early as 30 days in advance but  no later than one hour before arrival at the First Port of Arrival (FPOA). All mandatory data elements and conditional elements where applicable must be included in submissions.  (See Chapter 4: Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document ECCRD). A machine-readable barcode must be presented  to the Border Services Officer (BSO) at the FPOA. The barcode must either be the Conveyance Reference Number (CRN) or Cargo Control Number (CCN) associated to the trip. If the CCN is provided, the CRN must be hand-written on a document and provided to the BSO.

Carriers have a variety of submission options including utilizing a third-party service provider such as Border Pro for Carriers for eManifest filing services, or CBSA’s ACI eManifest portal.


2. Who has to provide an eManifest?

With some exceptions, carriers for hire who are transporting commercial goods into Canada, or returning to Canada empty are required to file ACI eManifest.


3. What is a Conveyance Reference Number?

The first four digits of the Conveyance Reference Number (CRN) must be the carrier code representing the carrier that is physically transporting the goods to Canada and reporting the goods at the First Port of Arrival (FPOA). This statutory obligation cannot be shifted from one carrier to another. The carrier code of the carrier transporting the goods must always be represented in the CRN, regardless of which party transmitted the related cargo data.


4. What commodities are exempt from eManifest requirements?

At this point, no specific products have been exempted from eManifest requirements. The ACI/eManifest Highway Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document  does provide info on exceptions and exemptions to eManifest filing requirements.

For a list of exceptions and exemptions from the eManifest program, consult the CBSA Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document – Chapter 4: Advance Commercial Information or D Memorandum D12-3-1.


5. Do we have to set up a new eManifest for every customs broker?

No, the ACI eManifest program is not customs broker specific. You are required to transmit advance cargo and conveyance information for each shipment transported into Canada by truck or rail car. These shipments could all be offered for release to CBSA by the same customs broker or by a combination of customs brokers.


Get expert answers to your ACI eManifest questions

We hope this post helps answer some of your questions. If you have other questions about ACI eManifest, we invite you to leave them in our comments section below or email us at


Learn more about ACI eManifest

Attend one of our upcoming 90-minute sessions (seminar or webinar) and learn more about ACI eManifest. We will answer your eManifest related questions, offer practical solutions and help you comply with this regulation that is now in effect.

For details and to register »

For regular updates on this topic consider following Pacific Customs Brokers @askborderpro.