How Long Does It Take To Process a Canadian Customs Entry With Pacific Customs Brokers?


Processing times are dependent on the completeness of documentation received, the complexity of the shipment and the amount of time required by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Other Government Departments (OGD) to provide accepted status. Although some shipments can be processed in a matter of minutes, others require more attention to detail. All shipments cleared with Pacific Customs Brokers receive a high level of scrutiny in order to proactively work towards our client’s compliance record.

Standard Processing Times

Receipt and prioritization for processing = 30 minutes

Once shipment documentation is received, it will be placed in a queue based on the estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the specified port. This process can take a maximum of 30 minutes.

Review of documentation = 2 hours
It may take up to two hours to review each shipment to ensure that all necessary information and documentation required for entry into Canada has been received including:

Required Documents

  • Canada customs or commercial invoice
  • Certificate or permit required by participating government agencies (if applicable)
  • Certificate for applicable free trade agreements (if applicable)

Required Invoice Information

  • Vendor name and address
  • Importer name and address
  • Commodity description
  • Country of manufacture
  • Quantity and weight
  • Value
  • Condition of sale
  • Currency of settlement
  • Reference number

Required OGD Information

  • These agencies require specific information and documentation depending on the department and shipment commodity.

Tip: Unsure if your shipment is subject to OGD review? Click here to check.

Entry processing of complete documentation = 30 minutes
Processing the shipment can commence once all required information and documentation is received. On average it takes 30 minutes to enter and transmit a shipment’s information to CBSA and applicable OGDs such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

CFIA review = 1 hour
If the shipment has goods regulated by the CFIA, processing times may increase by one hour.

CBSA review = 1 hour
Always allow up to one hour for CBSA to accept a shipment’s release request.

Top Reasons a Shipment is Not Accepted For Entry Within These Timelines

  1. Insufficient notice of shipment: Shipment documentation was provided less than 3 hours prior to arrival at the port of crossing and therefore not allowing the customs broker to succeed in obtaining an accepted status with CBSA.
  2. Missing documentation and/or information: If any information or documentation is missing, steps are taken to obtain it either through the importer of record (IOR) or the carrier. Missing information and or documentation will always result in delayed processing times.
  3. Highly complex entry: Some entries take longer to obtain accepted status due to their complexity and or amount of commodities listed on the invoice.
  4. Client account matter in pending status: Accounts are required to be in good standing in order for the customs broker to adequately work on the importer’s behalf. For example, if the customs broker is awaiting receipt of a signed Power of Attorney (POA), they are unable to process the entry until its receipt, regardless of having received complete shipment documentation.

Minimum Documentation Submission Times

Considering the timelines noted above, it is highly recommended that carriers submit shipment documentation utilizing the following guidelines:

Shipment Contains

Goods not regulated by OGDs

OGD regulated goods

CFIA regulated goods

Time Required Prior to Port Arrival

3 hours

4 hours

5 hours

Tip: Further steps can be taken by the carrier to ensure efficient border crossing. Click here for additional steps.

Pacific Customs Brokers understands the many variables that can change anticipated timelines. Every effort is made to ensure accepted status is obtained from CBSA prior to the carrier’s estimated time of arrival at the port of crossing despite the amount of time available to clear the shipment.

How To Check The Status of Your Shipment

It is recommended that carriers check the status of their shipments into Canada at least one hour prior to arrival at the port in order to mitigate delays. Carriers can check the status of the release with Pacific Customs Brokers in any of the following ways:

iPhone App

Mobile Website

PARS Lookup

Text Message

Phone Us

Available free via the App Store

Available via the internet browser on mobile devices

Available via our homepage

Sign up to receive a text the moment your shipment is accepted

Available to you 24/7, 365 day a year

Have questions or comments regarding the processing times outlined above? Have you used any of the listed methods of checking your shipment status? Share your experiences with us. Leave them in our comments section below or email Ask Your Broker.

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