Good and bad news to CBSA’s new goods clearance rules

OTTAWA — Canada’s plans to mimic the American ACE program with its own electronic border pre-clearance system could spread the responsibility for gathering and presenting data on goods across the supply chain. But, as the Canadian Trucking Alliance points out, if other partners don’t do their part, it’s still truckers that’ll pay the most.

Currently, the Customs Act places onto truckers the sole responsibility of providing advance information to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) before the trucks arrive at the border, even though many times the carrier does not own or package the goods.

If the data is incorrect, the truck can be delayed at the border for further inspection or it can be moved in-bond to a secure inland facility under CBSA control for customs clearance at a later date.

Legislation to amend the Customs Act (Bill S-2) — which leads the way for Canada’s version of the ACE program, the Advanced Commercial Information (ACI) initiative — could remove the sole obligation for the carrier to gather and present the required data and introduce, "a fairer sharing of the responsibility by all supply chain partners," says CTA’s David Bradley.

Both carriers and importers — or their customs brokers — therefore, will have to submit information to CBSA electronically in advance of a truck’s arrival at the border.

Fair, but Partly Foul: New goods clearance rules
will place less onus on truckers when things
go right, but more burden when they don’t.

"CTA believes that over time there has been far too much regulatory obligation placed on the carrier community relative to other supply chain partners and the proposed amendment could provide better balance," Bradley told the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

However, in cases where the carrier and the importer data has not been received and approved prior to a truck’s arrival at the border, CBSA is considering eliminating the option of moving the load in-bond to an inland facility for clearance and instead could turn the truck around.

"This could substantially impact the efficient movement of goods into Canada," says Bradley. "By enabling carriers to proceed beyond the border, in-bond moves help avoid costly delays and the truck, trailer and driver rather than sitting at the border are freed up to get back to productive operation.

"While the obstacle may not be caused by the carrier, it is the carrier’s truck and driver that will be held up on the U.S. side of the border,” he said.

Bradley explains that at least initially, importers could have difficulties providing IAD information. LTL shipments are particularly at risk of being delayed as the goods could belong to several importers. Even if one importer’s data is not received on time, the whole shipment will be stopped and returned to the U.S. — possibly, Bradley points out, to an insecure facility or a vacant parking lot to await the transmission of the data.

The simplest solution would be to continue allowing carriers the ability to move goods inland in-bond when the IAD has not been received, urges Bradley.


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