Breakdown of Customs Self-Assessment Process |'s Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates

Breakdown of Customs Self-Assessment Process

When running a successful importing business, it’s critical that you look for places in which you can streamline. Today, we’ll be looking at one of the programs put in place by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to help importers smooth out the importing process. Like with any kind of business ops, “streamlining” essentially means saving time and money, which can help your bottom line and push your business forward. 

“Truly world-class businesses are always examining their business processes and continuously looking to improve in key areas, such as: lead time reduction, cost cutting, exceeding customer expectations, streamlining processes, shortening time to market new products, and managing global operation.” 

Daniel Baldwin

Whether or not your goals are to become the next Fortune 500 company, we can borrow a few of the ideas from those kinds of businesses. Importers are not immune to inefficient business processes that weigh their profits down. The good news? There’s plenty of incremental changes you can make in order to save on valuable resources.

clearing canadian customs

Just starting out? Click here to read our Guide to Importing in Canada.

One of the programs put in place by CBSA is the Customs Self Assessment (CSA) Program, as mentioned prior. Keep reading to learn more about how you could use it to your advantage!

We’ve covered frequently asked questions about the CSA program here: 

What is the Customs Self Assessment Program? 

The CSA program was built to simplify the process of clearing customs for importers. In essence, what CBSA calls “low-risk and pre-approved importers” can move through the border/destination port more quickly.

It is certainly mutually beneficial for importers and for CBSA officers as well. Importers get to move their shipments more quickly, and CBSA officers get to focus further on higher-risk shipments.

What are the key benefits of the program?

Beyond being mutually beneficial for CBSA officers and for importers on the basis of efficiency, here are a few more detailed specs on how it can help importers, as stated on the CBSA website:

  • it ends the need to maintain separate and costly customs processes;
  • it reduces the number of transactional transmissions;
  • it aligns importers’ financial records with CBSA requirements;
  • it increases the certainty of expedited customs processing;
  • it facilitates compliance by increasing clients’ awareness of their obligations; and
  • it streamlines the process for legitimate trade.

How do I know if I am eligible for the program? 

The good news here is that CBSA wants to make this process accessible for importers. The program is available to importers located in Canada and the U.S. that have been actively importing for more than 90 days. 

importer CBSA instagram

CBSA’s official instagram

It almost goes without saying: any importers with a history of non-compliance or attempts to ship contraband will not be eligible.

What is the application process like? 

The application is a 2-part process (applications Part I and Part II).

First, you’ll need to provide all the information about your business as an importer. This includes any legal entity identification info, any specifications about your business divisions, and certification (that the data/information provided is accurate and complete).

Secondly, you will need to provide details on your business processes and open yourself to an audit. Part II is much more granular and will require a full narrative flow chart explaining your supply chain and internal processes — and more.

We encourage you to look at the specifications for the applications here: Part I, Part II



If you have any questions about kicking off this process, or any other tips for streamlining clearing customs in Canada. We highly recommend partnering up with a customs broker that is knowledgeable about the regulatory framework in Canada. Click here to start the conversation.