CBSA Using Blockchain: What Does It Mean? |'s Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates

CBSA Using Blockchain: What Does It Mean?

Led by tech giant IBM and shipping company Maersk, CBSA began a pilot project to evaluate a digital shipping solution called TradeLens. TradeLens is technology that was designed to improve data quality and facilitate shipment of goods using blockchain.

Quick aside: What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a record of transactions, stored digitally. The name “blockchain” is derived from the name given to individual records — blocks. These records are linked together in a list — chain. For example, at the time of writing, TradeLens has tracked 1.4 billion events, a number that grows every second!

You may have heard the term blockchain used in the context of cryptocurrencies, which are one of the main users that popularized the technology.

blockchain import

Beginning in 2018 with an announcement to the trade community, the goal of the pilot was to assess the viability of implementing TradeLens — CBSA wanted to see if the technology could streamline their processes. TradeLens, an IBM project, works to provide parties involved in trade with the tools they need to share information and collaborate with others, but in a secure manner.

Further to this, in a press release on the project, it was stated that: 

“CBSA processes over 58,600 commercial releases, 14,400 trucks, 240,000 mail items, and 127,400 courier shipments, collecting more than $88,200,000 (CDN) in duty and taxes. […]

Ultimately, the goal for the Agency is to see if this type of solution can help improve the quality and timeliness of commercial data, increase visibility to cargo movement past the first port of arrival and reduce the number of transactions necessary to make a release decision for shipments.”

All the more reason to implement innovative technologies to ensure that efficiencies are being met — especially as the number of goods coming into Canada increases. For TradeLens, this is a particularly significant deal, as the acceptance of the technology by customs authorities is what will lead to its success.

On this, IBM explains:

“The most important aspect of the platform is the ecosystem – building trust to enable collaboration with one another through a model that benefits everyone.”

How can Blockchain benefit importers? 

Depending on how it’s used, there is a lot of potential for the technology to ensure the integrity of data, like the documentation provided by importers. It would, in essence, fundamentally change the way that information moves along with the goods. This could mean that fees, costs, duties, and risks would be minimized – henceforth benefiting businesses. 

It’s no secret that the cost of importing goods into Canada (or any country for that matter), can be a costly process — due to the amount of documentation, regulations, and authorizations required to take into account. Any reduction in those processes as a result of technology would benefit importers greatly.

It is an indication of modernity that CBSA is willing to embark on such a project that is beneficial for all parties, importers included! CBSA continues to innovate, streamline their processes, and optimize in order to smooth the clearing of customs. 



If you would like to learn how a customs broker can help you streamline your process and ensure the clearance of your imports, you can contact us here