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Carriers fined unfairly at border: CTA

WINDSOR, Ont. - Canadian carriers are paying big bucks for border fines even if they aren't responsible for violations under the new U.S. prior-notice requirements for shipments to the U.S....


WINDSOR, Ont. – Canadian carriers are paying big bucks for border fines even if they aren’t responsible for violations under the new U.S. prior-notice requirements for shipments to the U.S.

So say Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) officials, who last month conducted a survey of carriers to find out just how U.S. Customs fines are being handed down.

Huge fines

They found out Canadian carriers are being dinged with fines of up to US$10,000, even if their shippers or the customs brokers responsible for helping them give notice of their arrival at the border are at fault.

Under the newly enforced U.S. Trade Act, carriers must provide prior notice at the border up to one hour before their arrival time (a half-hour for FAST carriers).

Prior notice includes a detailed listing of the items being shipped into the U.S. and their origins, e.g. the shipper/importer’s name, etc.

“We found through the survey that the majority of fines being given out were for failure to provide adequate prior notice,” said Stephen Laskowski, associate vice-president of the CTA.

“And in some cases, carriers were at fault. But there were many cases where the carriers weren’t responsible for the violation and they were fined anyway.”

While U.S. Customs officials had originally stated they were planning on fining any and all participants in the transportation chain who violated the new rules, it seems they’ve changed their policy, said Laskowski.

“What I’d like to know is how they plan to enforce prenotification if the only ones they’re fining are the carriers,” he said.

Laskowski said CTA officials are hoping to meet with U.S. Customs officials in Washington soon to discuss the issue.

“They say they want to make this work, but if they don’t enforce it across the supply chain, I don’t see how that will happen,” said Laskowski.

Can challenge

Carriers meanwhile, can challenge their fines by providing evidence of their innocence to the fine official at the border where they received the fine.

But that incurs cost as well, pointed out Laskowski.

“It costs time and money to challenge a fine,” he said.

U.S. Customs started enforcement for PAPS shipments under the U.S. trade Act Dec. 15, 2004. Enforcement for in-bond shipments started Jan. 3.


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