Importing Goods Into Canada

When you’re familiar with the requirements and responsibilities around importing, trade gets a lot simpler. We’re here to help with checklists and FAQs.

So, how does this all work?

After you, the importer, places an order with your vendor in another country, a carrier will be arranged to ship the goods to you or your consignee. Either you or your vendor will be responsible for arranging a carrier, and is typically agreed upon at the time of sale. The vendor is responsible for completing and providing the invoice (commercial invoice or Canada Customs Invoice) and bill of lading, which they will supply to the carrier at the time of pick up. The carrier will then apply their tracking number (also called a cargo control number, aka CCN, PARS number or barcode), their ETA and port of clearance. The carrier will also have to prepare and submit an electronic manifest to Canada Customs for review. The carrier is then responsible for sending the paperwork to the customs broker. Upon receipt, the customs broker will prepare and submit an electronic entry to Canada Customs for review. Within two hours of sending the entry, Customs will send a response back to the broker to indicate whether the entry is accepted or rejected for further review. Once the goods arrive at the port of clearance, the barcode is scanned. The officer reviews the electronic submissions from both the carrier and broker, and then decides to inspect or release the goods. Upon release, the carrier will then deliver the goods to the consignee. ***Please note that each mode of transportation will have different requirements to achieve release of the goods. While most details are universal, the above mainly speaks to truck transportation.

What paperwork is required?

For submission to Canada Customs, your broker will require an invoice and bill of lading at minimum. Depending on the goods being imported, there may be special permits or codes required for import. If you are ordering new product, it is recommended that you discuss with your broker before placing an order to ensure there are no restrictions, additional duties or paperwork required.

What information will my broker require to process my entry?

  • At minimum, the information required to submit my entry to CBSA is:
  • the total piece and weight counts
  • shipping location and vendor information (if different)
  • the delivery location or consignee information (if different from the importers location)
  • the date, price and currency of sale
  • list of goods purchased
  • quantities and unit prices of goods purchased
  • the country of manufacture of each article (not always included on invoice)

Who is responsible for what in regards to facilitating the clearance of my goods?

  • The vendor is responsible for providing the invoice, certificate of origin and completing the bill of lading.
  • The carrier is responsible for the pick-up and delivery of the goods, submitting an electronic manifest to CBSA before arrival to the port of clearance and providing the shipment information to the customs broker to facilitate the clearance of the goods.
  • The customs broker is responsible for preparing and submitting an electronic entry to Canada Customs on the importers behalf. This involves applying an HS Code to each incoming article, applying the proper tax code for the reason for import and ensuring all the information provided is correctly presented to CBSA in a timely manner. They will also work with the importer to maintain the standard of compliance set by CBSA, therefore reducing the importers risk.
  • CBSA is responsible for reviewing the electronic manifest and entry before providing permission for the goods to enter the country.
  • You, the importer, is wholly responsible for the goods that they have imported into Canada. This means that they are held to a standard by CBSA, and all other government departments, for ensuring all information regarding the goods imported has been filed correctly and lawfully per the governing regulations.

What is my customs brokers’ role and responsibility with my international shipments?

It is the brokers’ responsibility to prepare and submit electronic entries to CBSA on behalf of the importer.

The customs brokers’ role is to help the importer maintain the standard of compliance set by CBSA by researching government publications to ensure all the correct codes are applied and submitted to CBSA on my behalf.

What is a NAFTA? And, what does it mean to you as the importer?

NAFTA stands for North American Free Trade Agreement. This document is a legal certificate that allows for free trade (duty free) of goods manufactured in Canada, the US and/or Mexico within the participating countries. There are rules and regulations that the goods must adhere to in order to qualify for NAFTA relief (rules of origin and/or valuation). This document is to be completed and supplied by the vendor.

What could be the repercussions if I do not provide my broker accurate information?

Monetary penalties can be issued by the CBSA should they find and determine incorrect information has been provided in regards to the imported goods. These penalties can range from $150 up to $400,000 per infraction (several penalties can be applied at one time for the same infraction on different entries).

Who is responsible for paying additional charges my shipment may accrue?

This question is mostly relates to ocean shipments, rail shipments and inland clearances. All charges are the responsibility of the importer to pay. However, arrangements can be made for the broker to pay on the clients behalf to avoid potential delay in delivery. If the broker does pay on behalf of the importer, the fees paid will appear on the bill for that shipment. There is also typically an additional charge for this service.

Who is responsible for arranging the delivery of the goods once they arrive in Canada?

This question is mostly relates to ocean shipments, rail shipments and inland clearances. All arrangements are the responsibility of the importer to make in a timely manner. However, arrangements can be made for the broker to arrange with a carrier of the importers choice. There is typically an additional charge for this service.

How is GHY structured, and why?

At GHY, we work in team structures. Each team is assigned a set of clients, so we can learn about and cater to the particular needs of each. Within a team, there will be a Manager, different levels of Raters and Release Associates.

The Managers’ role is to oversee the teams and to help guide and teach their members, while double checking the entries their team has produced to ensure all information is correct before submitting for final accounting with CBSA.

There are different levels of Raters within each team. The Senior Raters are support to the Manager and research and enter item information into your database for the Release Associates to access. The Intermediate and Junior Raters help support the Senior Raters with their research, provide support for the Release Associates and facilitate the release of the more complicated entries.

The Release Associates organize, prioritize and facilitate the release of the daily incoming shipments.

Each team strives, and works together, to provide you with a high level of service and care that we all pride ourselves in delivering with each interaction.