Clearit.ca's Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates
As an importer, the last thing you want to see are additional fees that add on to your already high operation costs; it’s even less amusing when those fees turn out to be penalties from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). The federal agency, when issuing a penalty, will do so through AMPS – the Administrative Monetary Penalty System – to clients for violating the CBSA’s trade and border legislation.
Examples of the most common non-compliance penalties issued via AMPS includes the failure to pay duties; failure to provide required information to the Agency; unauthorized removal of goods from a warehouse; direct delivery of goods prior to release from the CBSA and the failure of reporting goods to the CBSA.
So, should you receive a penalty through AMPS, you will receive a Notice of Penalty Assessment (NPA) from the Agency describing what exactly is the infraction you are being penalized for. If you disagree with the assessment, there are some option available for you to have it reviewed:
On behalf of the Minister, a designated officer may cancel or reduce the penalty within 90 days of its issuance due to errors in the assessment. Correction requests must be submitted to the issuing office – you’ll find the fax number of the office on the NPA.
In the correction request, be sure to include the following information in order to avoid any delays:
- Client identification number: including the Business Number (RM import/export and account level), the Carrier Code and the Sub-office Work Location (warehouse operators)
- The name and address of the client.
- The penalty assessment number (automatically generated by AMPS for each NPA)
- NPA proof of payment, when applicable.
- A note clearly stating that the carrier believes there was an error in the assessment.
If the correction request is denied there remains one more option: the Ministerial review. A request for such a review can be made and will submitted to the CBSA’s Recourse Directorate. When submitted the review request you should supply as much information as possible related to the objection of the penalty.
These requests must be submitted within 90 days from when the NPA was received. In exceptional situations, the period of time may be extended to one year. Decisions regarding the review will be sent by writing to the client: should the penalty remain, any amounts owed and/or interest are payable. Should it swing the client’s way and the penalty is stricken down, the assessment is cancelled, any funds payed / interests are reimbursed.
Pay Up – Pay Less
When a request is put in for a correction or review, the payment of the penalty can be deferred until a final decision is made. However, should the penalty remain and the payment is not made within 30 days, interests will be calculated from the day after the NPA was served until the total amount is paid out.
The Penalty Reduction Agreement is a program run by the CBSA whereas a formal understanding is agreed upon between the client and the federal Agency. The penalty is partially reduced and in exchange, the client must reinvest in his commercial information system.
The Agreement must be approved before the penalty is reduced. The amount chopped off the penalty is specific to the client’s information system such as the costs related to purchasing updated software and upgrades. The Agreement cannot be applied to costs related to training employees or any administrative costs, salaries or new hires.
How to Avid AMPS
Understanding and working closely with customs brokers that also have a deep understanding of the requirements in the Advance Commercial Information eManifest but also, having and maintaining an efficient record keeping system are key elements to avoid AMPS.