5 Frequently Asked Questions about Customs Clearance |

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5 Frequently Asked Questions about Customs Clearance

With online shopping continuing to boom (even throughout a pandemic!), more and more individuals are taking on importing commercial goods. The reality is that not everyone in the supply chain / global trade space has a good foundation of knowledge on customs clearance. 

Having a handle on the specifics regarding all things customs will help your business thrive – as a misstep here can lead to delays, fines, and seizure of goods. As such, we felt it important to review some of the frequently asked questions we receive on customs clearance in Canada.

Keep reading to learn more – or for a quick refresher:

What are customs clearance fees? 

Customs clearance fees are charged by the customs broker or the freight forwarder at the time of arrival to the destination or port of entry. The customs clearance fee is what is charged in exchange for preparing and submitting the documentation for the import (Customs Entry Documents) to CBSA.

customs import

Why is a CBSA examination underway for my import? 

This does not occur with every import, but it’s practically unavoidable for some types of imported goods, like food, drugs, animal products, etc. To pull some more detail from the CBSA website

“You may not experience this step in the import process because the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not examine all shipments before releasing them. However, under the Customs Act, the CBSA has the authority to select shipments for examination to verify that they are compliant or to take samples in reasonable amounts.”

What is a Certificate of Origin? 

CBSA requires a Certificate of Origin to determine what duties and fees must be paid for the import. A Certificate of Origin is a document that states where the import was product, manufactured, and/or processed.

In the advent of CUSMA, the “new NAFTA”, there are some tweaks to the Certificate of Origin requirements in some contexts. Click here to read our coverage: Transitioning to CUSMA: A Toolkit for Importers or Trade Compliance: 5 New Orders & Regulations for CUSMA. 

What are tariff classifications? 

CBSA requires classification for your imported goods to define the types of product entering Canada on a standardized basis. As CBSA puts it: “[…] it allows CBSA to implement the appropriate policy and operational procedures to implement the correct regulations for the goods.”

Check out CBSA’s official Customs Tariffs for 2020 here. Luckily, most major players in global trade (China, India, USA) use the same Harmonized System to classify their goods as Canada.

What is a CBSA Release Bond? 

CBSA (and the CRA) require non-resident importers to submit a bond. This ensures that the duties and taxes will be paid in full in a timely fashion. Typically, importers will use a single use bond that can be used at each entry.

But there is the possibility to use an annual bond as well. Annual bonds certainly save importers some hassle if they do multiple shipments in a year, but they are more costly.

Bonus question! What is a Non-Resident Importer? 

A Non-Resident Importer is exactly what it sounds like: an importer without a physical presence in Canada – but chooses to act as an importer of record for goods coming into Canada. This is typically done for customs and GST purposes.



These are just a few of the inquiries we get frequently from new importers. If you have any further questions, it may be time to set up a quick chat with a customs broker to ensure your shipment runs smoothly and is cleared quickly. You can get in touch here