Clearit.ca's Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates
Most importers are familiar with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and their dealings. This is the primary government agency that importers must be accountable to – and in compliance with. However, there are other government departments (OGDs) that CBSA works in tandem with. In most cases, this happens when the imported goods must be inspected or in compliance with the OGDs.
In fact, there are a total of 15 OGDs that can get involved in the shipment of various goods in and out of Canada. In essence, this is to ensure that controlled and prohibited products are not entering or exiting the country illegally.
Regulating the goods that enter into Canada along with CBSA, you might be privy to the following departments:
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- Health Canada
- Transport Canada
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
- Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
The full reference doc of OGDs for importers can be found on the CBSA website: Other Government Departments and Agencies: Reference List for Importers.
On the reference list, they state:
“To help ensure that prohibited and controlled goods are not illegally imported into Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency assists other federal government departments and agencies by administering and enforcing legislation and regulations on their behalf. Inquiries about these importing regulations should be directed to the relevant department or agency.”
It’s critical that importers have a good understanding of the OGDs that may be at play in their industry, as certain documentation, information, or permits may need to be provided. There may be additional costs associated with these goods as well: like fees or permit costs. They may also contribute to delays in clearing customs, which can impact a business’ bottom line.
Experts in global trade, like customs consultants, brokers, etc., recommend that importers determine whether their goods may be regulated by an OGD much before they ship the goods. To go a step further, it must be verified during the business planning and development stage.
A sample of the kind of goods that OGDs may regulate:
- Pharmaceuticals and medical goods
- Animals and animal products
- Flowers and seeds
In general, getting prepared to comply with OGD requirements — and avoiding lengthy delays for releasing your imports at the border — we recommend a 3-pillar approach.
The 3-pillar approach to ensuring speedy customs clearance:
- Make sure that the shipper has provided the correct (and complete!) documents prior to moving the goods.
- Verify that all of your trade partners, from your exporter, to your broker, are fully apprised of the OGD-regulated products that are in your shipment.
- Plan for enough time for the customs broker to process the required documentation with the OGD.
- Bonus! Be aware that OGDs will generally require 2 hours to process the documents before CBSA reviews the shipment.
Moving restricted or controlled goods into Canada for commercial use can get tricky, but with the right logistics planning and trade partners by your side, it can make for a very successful business. Most importers will tell you first-hand that working with an experienced customs broker is a key element to their success. They can help you determine what documentation will be required of you — and even file on your behalf!
If you are interested in learning what a partnership with a customs broker might look like, click here.