COVID-19 Trade Updates

COVID-19 Trade Updates for Canadian - U.S. Businesses, Exporters, Importers and Manufacturers.


Key Points

  • Canadian, U.S. & Mexican governments confirm that Northern border and Southern border trade remains stable and without disruption. Cargo is considered essential and therefore should not be subjected to additional screenings or potential slowdowns. The Department of Homeland Security has a great factsheet.
  • UPDATE - April 1: USMCA/CUSMA will not go into effect on June 1st, 2020. July 1st, 2020 is the earliest the deal could now go into effect. U.S., Canada and Mexico still have to agree on auto rule regulations, in addition, name panelists for USMCA dispute settlement, before the new deal can be implemented.
  • World Customs Organization (WCO) has published a dedicated webpage to COVID-19 as well as an HS Classification refence document for COVID-19 medical supplies.
  • FAST Drivers who normally move unencumbered in certain instances, are being stopped to produce ‘both’ their Passports and ‘FAST Cards’. Determinations on essential products are being made by ports and officials in respective countries.
  • CBP has seen an uptick of positive tests and confirmed 30 Officers are in quarantine protocol.
  • One CBSA Officer at Toronto Pearson has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at home.


Update - March 30: Duty, GST & HST - Deferred (until June, 2020)

Justin Trudeau just announced the equivalent of giving $30-billion in interest free loans to businesses by deferring GST, HST, and Duty until June 30, 2020. Below is the latest confirmed information, we will continue to update as additional information becomes available.  

  1. Payment deferral is applicable to all duties and taxes owing, not just month end settlement. Applicable period is March 28, 2020 forward including March statement of account.  
  2. The filing of accounting information is unchanged although late accounting penalties, within the designated period will be waived.  
  3. Payment that was sent and received by CBSA on March 26, 2020 will be processed. 
  4. Cheques received by CBSA from March 27 – April 10, 2020 – CBSA will contact issuer. CBSA will return e-payments from March 28 – April 10, 2020.  
  5. Cheques and e-payments received by CBSA after Friday April 10, 2020 will be assumed as intended payment and processed.  
  6. Commercial pay as you go details are under consideration.  

45 Day Grace Period for Late Accounting

CBSA has decided to provide a 45 business days grace period for late accounting penalties. Importers and brokers will not have to submit an application to have late accounting penalties waived. This waiver applies to transactions released from March 11, 2020, to May 14, 2020, inclusively.

120 Day Period for Post-Audit Corrections

CBSA has also extended by one month the 90-day period for submitting corrections, following a CBSA trade compliance verification where errors were found. Importers/brokers will now have 120 days in which to submit B2s for any needed corrections.

CBSA Audits Temporarily Suspended (until April 20, 2020)

All deadlines imposed in connection with verification audits are automatically extended by a period equivalent to the period of suspension. The length of this suspension period may be re-evaluated later. CBSA is continuing to process duty drawback claims, applications for the duties relief program, and B2 requests for adjustments, which are unaffected by this temporary suspension.

Single Window Initiative (Postponed)

SWI is working; however, Health Canada requires significantly more work and other areas have been unstable, which have impacted the movement of groceries and requires the use of ‘back-up’ (the old system). The postponement will likely take next date into 2021. Industry will make representation for a further deferral, due to the instability of the program currently. 

Importing Disinfectants/Sanitizers (Reduced Measures)

Traders importing disinfectants and sanitizers that are regulated as Natural Health Products (NHPs) are not required to complete the Intended Use Code and Canadian Product Category for product release. This does not apply to disinfectants and sanitizing products that are regulated as Drugs, that require an Establishment License and a Drug Identification Number (DIN). If a HS Code for an existing NHP disinfectant/sanitizing product cannot be found on the current CBSA criteria Matching Table, please notify the CBSA SWI/ Health Canada team for immediate review.

CITT Remains Open

All in-person hearings are cancelled however the electronic filing system is fully operational. All scheduled filing deadlines are to be maintained and requests for extensions of filing deadlines are being handled on a case by case basis.

CFIA Offices are  Moving to Appointment Only

Please contact your local CFIA office before visiting, to book an appointment. More information on CFIA operations available here.

RPP Bonds

Bonds can be filed and amended. CBSA will continue to have personnel in locations that normally receive bonds by mail and there will be no disruption to processing bonds received.


Maintain their statuses. Trusted traders who take part in Partners in Protection or Customs Self-Assessment programs who are up for re-validation will maintain their trusted status as they continue to be compliant.


Duties, Taxes & Fees

UPDATE – April 1: President Trump is again expected to sign an executive order to give companies a 90-day grace period on payment of tariffs. This will not apply to import penalties on Chinese goods, steel and other items subject to recent trade action. More to come.  

Update - March 26: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has notified the trade community they are no longer accepting requests for additional days for payment. Guidance has been provided to brokers, importers and sureties on payment process here. Single payments, daily and periodic monthly statement payments of estimated duties, taxes and fees that should have been tendered from 3/20/2020 through 3/26/2020, must be initiated by 3/27/2020. Payment should be initiated via FedWire or ACH credit. 

FDA Import Operations

Remain functional & operational: Activities including FDA Prior Notice review, FDA entry processing, FDA sampling/examination of high-risk shipments, FSVP inspections, filer assessments, and compliance activities are all ongoing.

FDA has taken action to increase U.S. supplies to support the U.S. response to COVID-19 by providing instructions to manufacturers importing personal protective equipment and other devices.

Update - April 1: EPA Released Filing Tips

The Environmental Protection Agency has published new process for handling paper pesticide notice of arrival filings. Notice of Assessments (NOAs) will now be accepted by email. Mailed submissions will not be accepted. Please contact your regional coordinator for specific instructions.

Update - April 1: USDA Extends Expiration Date of Audit Certificates 

To help the movement of fresh specialty crops, the expiration date of USDA audit certifications scheduled to expire on or before May 31, 2020 have been extended 60 days. This will allow USDA to focus on food safety verification audits for new entities, while enabling established entities to continue to move product into commerce. 

Update - April 1: Documents for Importation of COVID-19 Specific Products  

Below are products regulated by FDA as a device and would temporarily qualify for special discretionary handling. At the time of entry importers should use code: 081.006. The listing below includes links to the guidance documents for each specific product.

*No exceptions to the import reporting requirements of Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Soaps. Standard FDA reporting is required. 

Importing Products Authorized for Emergency Use

When importing (EUA) Emergency Use Authorized products, reduced entry information should be sent to FDA. Importers should transmit an Intended Use Code of 940.000: Compassionate Use / Emergency Use along with appropriate product code.

  • Diagnostic Tests: QPK, OTG, QKO, QJR
  • Masks / Respirators: NZJ

China Tariff Exclusions Announced

U.S. Trade Representative have issued a notice of product exclusions to protect investors and public interest. With over $200 billion in exclusions, the list includes foods, bags, clothing, auto parts, chemicals, rubber hoses & tires, backpacks, steel and aluminum goods, printed circuit boards and more. These exclusions, need to be claimed using new HTSUS 9903.88.43, will be retroactive to Sept. 24, 2018. They will remain in place until Aug. 7, 2020. See complete list here.

Trusted Traveler Program (Temporarily Closed)

Closure includes all public access Global Entry enrollment centers, NEXUS enrollment centers, SENTRI enrollment centers and FAST enrollment locations. Scheduled closures are from March 19 until at least May 1, 2020.

Flag Entries with Pricing Fluctuation

Importers who are experiencing fluctuations in pricing of imported materials should flag entries in case of future reconciliation opportunity. Remember, to qualify for customs valuation pricing reductions, importers must agree to the reduction with exporter prior to export.

CBP Notifications

CBP will be issuing a notification in the coming days - through its Customs Messaging System (CSMS). CBP will release all measures to help offset the burden on importers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are expecting this to be a presidential proclamation making 90-day extension for duty payments official.

Customs Broker License Exam on April 1, 2020 (Postponed)

CBP will provide additional information in the coming days on the website. Update - March 31: Refunds are being issued to applicants.  

Port of Long Beach / Los Angeles is Congested

A large backlog of empty containers has created substantial congestion at the port due to COVID-19 & China isolation efforts. The two ports are working with the Federal Maritime Commission on requesting guidance for demurrage and detention to avoid excessive and unfair charges.

Laredo Field Office Operating Normally

Held a conference call on March 20 to discuss the continuation of trade on the southern border. Laredo Field Office will have no changes to the hours of operation and all lanes will be open on the World Trade Bridge. There are no expectations of slowdowns however drivers will be required to show company identification.


How We Can Help 

While the Canada-U.S. border is closed to non-essential travel, we applaud the Canadian government for identifying that trade remains essential and is supporting the industry by keeping the border open to essential supply chains. GHY is grateful to see how the Canadian and U.S. government have created incentives to assist manufacturers and exporters to maintain the vital service of trade, during this unprecedented time in history.

Trade requires trust, collaboration, and communication across supply chain partners (e.g. manufacturer, supplier, carrier, and customs brokers). More than 70% of Manitoba’s Certified Trade Compliance Specialists (CTCS) call GHY home. This group of specialists have been and will continue to be on top of emerging new programs that provide incentives and opportunities throughout the COVID-19 health crisis. Incentives range from ensuring duty free status on cleaning & hygiene supplies, to tax relief for products destined to be manufacturing and resold outside of Canada.

GHY welcomes the opportunity to connect virtually, at any time, to best understand your unique needs and share real time options. Email us at, or call us toll free at 1.800.667.0771.

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