“I think I've found an error in my Canadian import transactions, and it's my fault. What can I do?”
Human error is a fact of life and honest mistakes can happen. No matter the nature of your business or the size of your company – no one is immune to the possibility of a slip-up.
We all know that the folks at the border don’t take the rules and regulations lightly and it can be stressful wondering what will happen if you’ve made an error on a customs document. Whether you notice the error immediately or long after you’ve imported an item, don’t fret – the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has a system in place for just such an occurrence.
CBSA's Voluntary Disclosure Program
The Voluntary Disclosure program aims to promote compliance by encouraging importers to come forward to disclose previously unreported information or to correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
According to the CBSA website, a Voluntary Disclosure must meet the following conditions to be valid:
- It is voluntary (i.e. initiated by the importer and not prompted by any activity or action by the CBSA or another government department);
- It involves the potential imposition of a penalty and/or specified interest or the potential of an action against the goods or person;
- It is complete, meaning all of the following are disclosed, as applicable:
- All incidences of errors in reporting goods to customs for which the client could be subject to a trade compliance verification and reassessment for the four years previous (in accordance with the requirements of Memorandum D11-6-6 and Memorandum D11-6-10, Reassessment Policy), or
- In the case of imported goods, all incidences of non-report or failure to account for the same or similar imported goods for up to six years prior to the disclosure; or
- In the case of exported goods, all incidences of failure to account for or errors in declaring the same or similar exported goods for up to six years prior to the disclosure.
- It takes account of the special considerations related to regulated or restricted imports and exports and prohibited goods; and
- With the exception of disclosures to comply with section 32.2 of the Act, the contraventions are non-repetitive (a voluntary disclosure may be denied when a previous voluntary disclosure has been granted for the same compliance issue) and the importer explains how the non-compliance occurred and how it has been corrected or what measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of future non-compliance.
If a Voluntary Disclosure application is successful, CBSA can, at their discretion, forgive penalties and interest owing as a result of the inaccuracy. All applicable duties and taxes would of course remain payable. And once your application has been reviewed, you’ll be obliged to fix the process so it doesn’t happen again and to avoid recurrences of non-compliance.
Remember that everyone makes mistakes. The key is to learn from them. Get in touch with our Customs Consulting Department today to discuss Voluntary Disclosures or any other matter relating to your cross-border business.
Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International