Archive for the ‘Archives’ Category


The Cost of Customs Compliance Part 2 | Not as Expensive as One Might Think

Image: The Cost of Customs Compliance Part 2 | Not as Expensive as One Might Think

Carrying on from last week’s Part 1 article, a customs compliance penalty often brings into question whether the customs broker can be held accountable if the importer is found to have errors in their import declarations. Since customs holds the importer of record (IOR) ultimately responsible for customs compliance, it is rare that an importer can shift the blame to their service providers or vendors who offered incorrect advice, submitted the declaration with erroneous information or lacked the expertise to catch potential problems with an imported item. Therefore, it is important to ensure your service provider evaluation includes the following:

  1. Does the customs broker have a process in place to review customs declarations for incomplete or inaccurate documentation prior to submission to customs?
  2. Does the customs broker offer Trade Advisory Services which can help with binding ruling applications on unclear product classifications or on new product purchases to determine any additional duties required and/or reporting requirements to other government departments?
  3. Does the customs broker clear all modes of transportation including courier shipments therefore ensuring consistency in both process and tariff classification?
  4. What is the level of certification, education and experience of the entry staff who are reviewing and submitting declarations on your behalf?
  5. Is your customs broker open during your hours of operation? If so, will they have an experienced representative available to answer questions about your specific account?

If your company’s supply chain requires the use of multiple customs brokers, we advise you to look into the following possible areas of inconsistencies.

Multiple Customs Brokers = Multiple Inconsistencies

We previously published an article on the Downside of Using Multiple Customs Brokers in which we highlighted two things to look out for when using multiple customs brokers.

Inconsistency between your chosen customs brokers:
Customs Broker ‘A’, who clears your incoming air shipments, may use a slightly different tariff classification code for your imported item than Customs Broker ‘B’ who clears the same item via highway transport. During our trade compliance seminars we often tell the tale of the outcome of three customs brokers classifying the same item and each coming up with their own justifiable explanation for their classification. This is a result of a highly complex harmonized system tariff schedule, the different experiences each of those brokers have had in their classification practice, as well as their understanding and application of the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI) as they relate to the item.

Difference in business process:
Not all customs brokers are created equal. Each has its own area of expertise and therefore business process. A courier company who offers customs brokerage as an added service has a priority to ensure speed and accuracy with the parcel delivery. A compliance broker, like us, Pacific Customs Brokers, specializes in ensuring their clients trading practices fall within Customs law. Our process differs in the the attention given to detail.

Review Your Entries to Mitigate Risk

As you can see from the areas of concern we have addressed in this article, and despite best efforts, an importer may be completely unaware of their shortfall in customs compliance. One way to review your customs broker’s accuracy is to review the declaration summary provided with the invoice against the following checklist:

  1. Has your vendor provided a full and accurate description of goods for classification purposes?
  2. Is the value declared on your vendor’s invoice correct and will it match your reconciliation to the vendor?
  3. Will you be receiving any additional invoices for value added costs such as royalties or commissions?
  4. Have all applicable discounts been declared and taken where applicable?
  5. Has the country of manufacture been declared correctly for all items on the invoice?
  6. Were all the items listed on the invoice received? Were there shortages or overages?
  7. Do you have properly completed certificates on hand for all items declared under a preferential tariff treatment, including North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Certificates of Origin?
  8. Has the Goods and Services Tax (GST) been correctly accounted for on all items?


We encourage you to reach out to our Trade Advisory team with any questions you may have regarding your customs compliance practices at We are here to help!

2017 Designation Maintenance Begins in our Professional Development Courses!

T if for Trade Compliance Education

A new year means a new start for most everything and this includes a reset to the maintenance requirements of your professional designations set forth by the credential’s governing body. We are well into the year now and our Professional Development Courses for fall 2017 are about to launch.

Whether you are a Canadian or U.S. Certified Customs Specialist (CCS), a Certified Trade Compliance Specialist (CTCS), a Certified Export Specialist (CES), a designate with the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) or accounting professional, taking any of Pacific Customs Brokers’ seminars and webinars will earn you maintenance points, credits and hours towards a variety professional designations.

Review and plan your maintenance for the second half of 2017 by clicking on the course’s name below:

(Fall registration opens at midnight on July 15, 2017)

CDN Importing for Beginners Part 1
CDN Importing for Beginners Part 2
US Importing for Beginners Part 1 1
US Importing for Beginners Part 2 1
FDA Regulated Goods 2 2 1
CFIA Regulated Goods 2 2
NAFTA for Beginners Part 1 1 1
NAFTA for Beginners Part 2 1
Shipping Perishables – NEW! 5 5 3 3
CDN Trade Compliance Part 1 5 5
CDN Trade Compliance Part 2 5 5 3
Exporting from Canada 5 5 3 3
US Trade Compliance Part 1 5 5 3
US Trade Compliance Part 2 5 5 3 3
HS Tariff Classification 5 6 4
Free Trade Agreements and Rules of Origin 5 5 5
Customs Valuation 5 3.5
CFIA 5 5
FDA 5 5 3
CTPAT 3 3 2 2


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

Professional Development Courses – 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:

  • Cost-effectiveness – More affordable than industry standards and some even offered complimentary
  • Global accessibility – Travel is removed from the equation for companies with multiple locations or branches
  • Convenience – Attend from the comfort of your desk
  • Concise training – In a fast-paced industry, efficiency becomes just as important as staying compliant
  • Industry recognized sessions – Earn points towards maintenance of your industry designations

Professional Development Courses – Seminars and Workshops

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

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

For future reference, download your own 2017 Fall Trade Compliance Program today!

4 Reasons a Personal Import Should Not Clear Customs Under Your Company Name

4 Reasons a Personal Import Should Not Clear Customs Under Your Company Name

Sometimes, an employee or owner of a company will ask their customs broker to clear a personal import using their company’s commercial import account. It is seemingly easier to clear goods under an established account rather than the alternative, BUT this has clear pitfalls that we want to bring to your attention.

We do not recommend clearing a personal import as commercial goods for these 4 important reasons:

  1. Provincial Sales Tax (PST) needs to be assessed. If a commercial import is cleared in the name of a business, the business will have to self-assess the PST, which is often forgotten or unknown. If the shipment is cleared correctly as a personal import, PST is assessed at the time of importation with the exception of goods that require registration, such as vehicles.
  2. The import is filed against the company’s business import number. This means the company is responsible for all audits, Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) or other queries from government agencies for the next 6 years!
  3. A personal import is exempt from some requirements that commercial importations are required to meet. An example of this is the requirement for North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) certificates. Personal use goods importations can apply NAFTA tariff treatments without a completed NAFTA Certificate or Statement (to reduce the duty payable).
  4. The company has no financial interest in the shipment. In most cases, in order to act as the Importer of Record (IOR) for a shipment, a company or individual is required to be the buyer or seller of the items.


Importers of personal use goods have 2 options for clearance:

  1. If items are being shipped to the buyer, for example in online shopping, they can self clear at the customs office closest to them once the shipment has arrived at the bonded warehouse in Canada. Unfortunately, this option can incur additional fees from the transportation company for bonding the load and can delay the delivery of the shipment. The importer will have to obtain a copy of the in-bond documents and then clear the shipment in person at their local Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office. Once cleared they will have to return a copy of the customs release to the carrier’s warehouse before the goods can be delivered. Depending on the carrier, the importer maybe able to meet them at the border and clear at the time of arrival. If you are transporting your personal import yourself, you are required to declare your imports at the border when you arrive. At that time customs will assess any duties and taxes payable.
  2. They can hire a customs broker to complete the customs declaration on their behalf. The use of a customs broker will incur additional brokerage fees. However the use of a customs broker will allow the shipment, in most cases, to clear customs electronically at the first point of entry and be be delivered soon after crossing the border. Using a customs broker will also ensure that all import requirements are met and help avoid delays.

    A broker can easily and swiftly assist the individual with a personal import as the CBSA has provisions for a customs broker to use their own business number (specific to personal importations) to clear personal shipments. We can even bill the charges to the commercial account so long as we have the correct authorization from the client.

The difference between personal use goods and personal effects importing:

There is a difference between personal use goods and personal effects imports. To understand the difference please visit our blog post on How To Import Personal Belongs vs Personal Use Goods.

Clearing the shipment correctly as a personal import is the desired and proper way to handle these clearances in order to ensure the import is entered into Canada in compliance with all requirements.

Need help with your personal use goods import? We can help. Call us anytime and tell us your import story toll-free!

CBSA Will Use a New Cargo Inspection System to Pre-screen Northbound US Cargo

Cargo Inspection System - Pacific Crossing 2017


CBSA will open the first land border

Gamma Ray Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System to improve processing of US Cargo

at Pacific Highway sometime in the summer of 2017.

Contributed by Jan Brock,

Senior Trade Advisor
Former Chief of Commercial Operations Pacific Highway crossing

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced in its Report on Plans and Priorities that it intended to invest in detection tools to assist the Border Services Officers with detecting high risk cargo.

Examinations may be performed with the use of specialized tools e.g. gamma ray imaging vehicle and cargo inspection system, ion scanners and detection dogs and may include a full or a partial offload of the goods to detect the presence of prohibited or restricted goods.” CBSA


Gamma ray imaging is a non-intrusive tool that cargo inspection services can use quickly and effectively to verify the presence of legitimate goods and to investigate suspicious and unknown materials. This technology assists with reducing border wait times and costs associated with cargo inspections.  

The Gamma Ray Imaging Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System being built at Pacific Highway is a stationary fixed location system contained within a building.

This technology performs the best for  detecting the presence of high density items  such as  steel or low density like narcotics.  It is capable of scanning an entire  semi truck and trailer ,intermodal shipping containers and automobiles for contraband.

This Cargo Inspection system  is a fast screening tool that will aid in facilitation of  cargo inspection at land borders. Large sized targets can be examined without unnecessarily opening or disturbing the contents of the load or incurring the cost of unloading or de stuffing the container.  

An offload will incur a cost to the importer, carrier and to CBSA cargo inspection services as it is very labour intensive.

The gamma ray image this system presents to the Border Services Officer (BSO) after the scan of the cargo and/or vehicle has been completed will assist in the officer’s decision on whether a more intrusive examination is warranted and the load may be redirected back to the warehouse for offload or destuffing by CBSA or the CBSA Contracted Cargo Inspection Service.

The efficiency, reduction in cargo inspection services and avoidance of costs associated with such action will make this new Cargo Inspection System a welcome addition to the Pacific Highway Port of Entry  and to Canadian Freight!

Have more questions on cargo inspection systems or cargo inspections services? Contact us and we are happy to assist.

For more detail please refer to the linked resource below :

Link: CBSA Report on Plans and Priorities

Want to learn more about the fundamentals of cross-border shipping? Attend a Customs Compliance Seminar hosted by Pacific Customs Brokers and learn from the experts.

Have questions or comments regarding importing to Canada? Leave them in our comments section below or email Ask Your Broker.

International Flower Delivery | What Happens When a Taiwanese Orchid Decides to Travel Internationally?

International Flower Delivery – from Taiwan with love, international delivery florists!

International Flower Delivery


This is a light hearted, quick story about international flower delivery. It represents a very real question that we were asked here at Pacific Customs Brokers; the answer to which is a gem if you are planning an international flower delivery or you are importing plants or cut flowers into either the U.S. or Canada.

Being recognized as experts in the field of import requirements and international delivery for plants and cut flowers across North America is something we are proud of. As a result of this reputation, we process a significant amount of cut flowers and plants imported into Canada and U.S., including a recent request to help mitigate a delay during the import of Taiwanese Orchids.

The need came as a request from a VIP guest of an international hotel. A grand gesture from the hotel was to seek the import of these glorious plants to satisfy their dignified guest. During the import process the flowers were delayed at the border. The client asked for our assistance in meeting their import needs in order to meet their esteemed guest’s request.

This desire and its requirements raised an interesting point to us. How many of our readers might face the same situation with Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and all the amazing holidays we celebrate with the gifting of plants and flowers? How many might run into the same type of delay if they do not reach out to us prior to importation? How many could avoid this delay?

Our friends and families span the globe more than ever before. Be it plants or international flower delivery we are sending more and more unique items across more international borders than ever. What are the customs requirements across global borders to make these deliveries happen?


If you are a grower, producer or shipper of flowers, international delivery of any kind requires customs clearance and we can certainly assist you with your cross-border shipping needs.

Your Broker Knows ~ and you can as well.

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