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Your Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility Update

tsawwassen container examination facility

Tidewater Container Services Selected To Operate New Examination Facility

In July of 2018 the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) announced they had selected Tidewater Container Services through Harbour Link to be the operator and drayage provider of the newly built Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility (TCEF) located on the Tsawwassen First Nation Lands.

Tidewater Container Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harbour Link Container Services. Tidewater will be performing the container and cargo handling services for VFPA related to the examination of containerized cargo by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Harbour Link provides container drayage and off-dock container terminal services to all sectors of the container shipping community and currently operates a sufferance terminal in Delta, B.C.

Tidewater will be utilizing approximately 50,000 square feet of the TCEF structure to provide commercial warehousing and transloading services.

TCEF Operational Before 2019?

The TCEF is in its final phase of completion. Once complete the VFPA will apply for an Occupancy Permit from the Tsawwassen First Nation and upon receipt of the permit, Tidewater will begin to outfit the facility to make it operational. TCEF is expected to be operational by the end of 2018.

In the November 2017 blog post, The Issues and Solutions of Container Exams at the Port of Vancouver, you learned about the frustrations of the lengthy delays and costs of container exams in Vancouver.

In June of 2018, CBSA provided an update on their website of the Marine Container Examination Process. CBSA reiterated that CBSA is only responsible for the examination of marine containers, but does not control, influence, or charge for the:

  • Movement of containers to and from the CBSA: and
  • Offloading and reloading of containers

CBSA provided the following diagrams:


tsawwassen container examination facility


tsawwassen container examination facility


Tidewater, the facility operator at the TCEF, will generate the fees for presenting the goods for examination, to cover the cost of transportation to and from the examination facility, and for unloading and reloading the container. Tidewater will then bill the shipping line for these costs who will pass the cost to the importer.

Stakeholder Recommendations To Improve Ocean Trade

Recommendations for improvements for Ocean Trade were made at a September 2017 stakeholder conference. The main thread with the recommendations made were to improve the communication between all stakeholders regarding delays, service hours, and service standards.

  • Shipping lines, terminal operators and warehouse operators are required to post standard fees associated with the movement and facilitation of freight through the marine process.
  • Terminal operators need to improve the reservation system for pick up and return of CBSA examined or targeted containers.
  • CBSA needs to provide proof of examination, LSI exam and ventilation timelines to stakeholders.
  • There needs to be a transparent dispute resolution between all stakeholders.
  • Use of technology for real-time status and progress of the exam providing importers and their service providers’ insight to better plan and mitigate impacts of the exam to their business and supply chains.
  • Importers need the flexibility and the option to deliver direct from the exam site.
  • CBSA needs to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies and consistencies with their targeting and examination of container freight. A clear focus on the client is necessary which is transparent with defined and measurable service standards.

The hope is, with the opening of the TCEF, all of the above recommendations from the stakeholders meeting will be put into effect. As of now all the trade community can do is wait and see.

Experts You Can Trust

If you need assistance importing into the U.S., importing into Canada, or Freight Forwarding around the world, contact our experts to help get your goods where they need to go.

Jan Brock | Author

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