Customs broker outage sparks border delays again

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Commercial truck drivers faced delays at Canada-U.S. border crossings this week after Customs broker Livingston International experienced a system outage, following a similar incident four months ago in August.

Dan Ovsey, director of public relations and marketing communications at Livingston International confirmed that on Dec. 5, the broker began experiencing connectivity issues within some applications after the completion of a data center migration.

“As of 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, we can confirm that we are experiencing a systems outages in certain parts of our business that has led to the inability to process customs brokerage entries for some cargo crossing between the U.S. and Canada. In response, we have initiated contingencies to process entries as best as possible; however, some cargo may continue to be delayed.  We are concurrently investigating to determine the root cause of the disruption,” he told via email. 

trucks crossing Queenston-Lewiston Bridge
(File photo)

“We remain in close communication with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as our clients in response to these system outages. We regret any inconvenience this has caused our clients and members of the trucking carrier community,” Ovsey added.

“We are working with our partners at the U.S. CBP, bridge commission, the trucking community and Livingston International to clear the resulting backlog of trucks seeking entry into Canada,” CBSA told

A large carrier’s Customs official who spoke to on condition of anonymity, said Livingston had a network shutdown that continues to drag into the week, causing major headaches.

Manual release of freight

“The system has been down for four days, and numerous carriers are feeling the pain,” the official said. They have had to bond shipments and do manual releases that can take hours depending on the lineup at the border. He added drivers are facing Hours of Service issues and customers are seeing delays in receiving freight.

He added that they were told electronic releases were occurring Dec. 8 but were waiting seven hours to see a release. “Their tracker does not work, no one is responding to emails, you are in the dark,” he said.

He said drivers are losing their wages. Numerous loads have had to be rebooked, messing up driver schedules. He called it “a big mess with no end in sight.”

Beverley Hudd, of Fairway Transport based in Ancaster, Ont., said drivers must clear Customs manually at border entry points.

“It is disappointing and can’t happen. We have to make them accountable for this. It is not fair to the drivers, they suffer the most,” Hudd said.

  • This story has been updated with comments from the Canada Border Services Agency.
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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at

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  • Livingston has had issues for 40 years this is nothing new.
    Another excuse from Livingston when we would send our paperwork in they would say we didn’t get but we would have confirmation. I think Livingston have a shredder at the end of the fax machine and now they have an email eraser.

  • Livingston wasn’t that good before they bought up Affiliated – now they are at the bottom of the barrel and they took Affiliated with them

  • Livingston has been a pain in the ass for years and why a customer would continue to use them is beyond me. I guess they work cheap.

  • In this latest article on Livingston International’s recent and continuing outage at the Canadian border, spokesman Dan Ovsey attributes the backlog of shipments to “connectivity issues with applications after completion of a data center migration”.

    Speaking as an expert on 24/7 data center operations and a veteran of numerous data center migrations, I can say that there is no excuse for a self-inflicted outage resulting from a choice to launch a migration without a fully tested “roll back” and recovery plan to spare customers over a week of shipping disruptions.

    If they did not have well tested “roll back” plan in place when they tried to migrate to a new systems that is just irresponsible. If they did have a plan in place and failed to roll back when they realized it had failed, that is even more irresponsible.

    Continuing a migration that has failed is simply a decision to test it on live customers.

    Making matters worse, Mr Ovsey failed to arm his customer service personnel with a reasonable explanation for an outage that lasted this long and is still backing up shipments after 8 days. They only answer they were allowed to provide was “we have an outage. We do not know when it will be resolved”. No progress reports. Nothing else.

    Customers just left twisting in the wind.

  • Livingston has been a major liability in supply chain issues for years.

    While I do feel for the customers, their ineptness is a slap on the face to the cross border drivers. I’ve dealt with them before and I make sure my paperwork had an ETA of just 5 hours or less, after I faxed for most of my trips.