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 - December 11: The Canada-U.S. border closure on all non-essential travel has been extended to January 21, 2020; however, the border continues to remain open to essential goods and services.



Key SIMA Dates Temporarily Extended

In view of the problem collecting required information during the pandemic, the Department of Finance has temporarily extended the statutory time limits regarding certain provisions of the Special Import Measures Act. Click here for more detailed information about the changes applicable for the period March 30, 2020 – December 31, 2020.

Importer Security Remains Important

Importer Security (Bond and/or GST) requirements in preparation for CARM. Bonds are the future of trade - more details here.

Canada Waives Duty on Certain Medical Goods

The Canadian government has waived import tariffs on various medical goods, including PPE such as masks and gloves. Click here to find out more about which goods are covered by the Remission Order.

Update December 8, 2020 – Temporary GST/HST Relief Measures for Certain PPE 

As announced in the Trudeau government's Fall Economic Statement, certain personal protective equipment imported on or after December 7, 2020 have been temporarily zero-rated for purposes of the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax. Click here to find out more. 

Post-Audit Corrections (Extended to 120 Day Period)

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.

Update December 21, 2020 – CBSA Launches Temporary COVID-19 Electronic Procedures Pilot in GTA 

To address administrative difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, effective December 16 CBSA is temporarily allowing for the electronic submission of Duties Relief Program applications, Drawback claims, Single and Blanket B2 Adjustments, and Voluntary Disclosure requests. For now, this applies only to companies in the Greater Toronto Area. Find out more here

CBSA To Reduce Service Hours (Temporarily)

As of April 15, 2020, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced that effective April 15, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT, they will be reducing service hours (temporarily) at 27 land border crossings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CBSA has stated that the adjustments will remain in effect until the expiration date of the Order in Council made under the Quarantine Act which prohibits entry into Canada from the United States. The full-service schedule is available here.

Note: As of April 15, 2020, these changes do not impact the crossings in Ontario.

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. 

Update October 20, 2020 - CARM (Postponed)

CBSA’s Assessment & Revenue Management - Release 1, Client Portal launch - May/June 2021. Release 2, Register and Enroll - June 2022 . Details here.

Importing Medical Supplies - PPE, EUA

Details on importing Non-Medical Grade Masks can be found under 'Masks' on our page here: Importing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) Goods.

Previous Update: Importing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) Goods has increased significantly as a result of the COVID-19 health crises. We detail for both Canada and the USA how to import such items, details surrounding their HS Classifications, ensuring that you stay compliant with both Canada and U.S. Customs here.

CITT Remains Open

All in-person hearings are canceled 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.


U.S. Federal Government Response to COVID-19

Click here for a resource page published by the official website of the United States government, which provides a comprehensive summary of the actions being taken by various federal agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery

Click here to learn more about the implications for traders of an Executive Order issued on May 19 directing federal agencies of the U.S. Government to “temporarily or permanently rescind, modify, waive, or provide exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery.”

FDA Import Operations

FDA is requesting that importers electronically send records required under the FSVP for importers of food for humans and animals rule. FDA is temporarily conducting these inspections remotely during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Otherwise, operational systems are functional with the following activities still ongoing during the pandemic: FDA Prior Notice review, FDA entry processing, FDA sampling/examination of high-risk shipments, FSVP inspections, filer assessments, and compliance enforcement. More information can be found here.

Submitting Documents to the FDA

In a recent cargo message, CBP strongly encourages importers to submit product labeling along with regularly submitted entry documents in order to help expedite the admissibility process during the pandemic. Importers are also reminded that labeling and other documents should now be sent electronically via the FDA Import Trade Auxiliary Communication System (ITACS). 

Previous Updates: 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.

EPA Released Filing Tips

The Environmental Protection Agency has published new guidelines 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.

Commerce Offers Six-Month Export License Extensions

Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued a notice on October 16th advising that exporters experiencing delays shipping due to the COVID-19 pandemic may request six-month validity period extensions for export licenses that are currently due to expire on or before December 31, 2020. Click here to find out more about requesting such extensions. 

USDA/APHIS Delays Enforcement of New Lacey Act Import Declaration Requirements

APHIS has advised that it is delaying the planned enforcement of Lacey Act import declaration requirements on 29 new tariff lines that were to have taken effect on October 1, 2020, in order to “give the trade community time to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for this change.”

State Department Defense Trade Controls Implements New Measures 

The Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has announced certain new measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on U.S. companies and supply chains overseas as outlined here

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

COVID-19 Cargo Resolution Team (CCRT) continues to coordinate inquiries regarding the import of medical supplies and personal protective equipment. CCRT can be contacted here.


World Customs Organization

The WCO has released a HS Classification reference document for COVID-19 medical supplies, which now covers a broader range of medical equipment and supplies that have been designated as critically-needed items, they have also published a dedicated webpage to COVID-19.


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