Import documentation is one of the most common reasons import shipments are delayed. Sloppy, incorrect or missing paperwork alerts Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that your organization may not be living up to its legal obligations as a Canadian importer. And that deserves a second look, often delaying your cargo.
Understanding your legal obligations as an importer is essential for streamlining the import process and avoiding delays that may be costly for your organization, and inconvenient for your customers. As a rule of thumb, imagine driving up to the Canadian border with an overflowing carload of commercial goods. The questions you could be asked are not dissimilar from the questions CBSA needs answered by examining your import paperwork for cargo.
Providing proper import documentation is the most important step in avoiding delays in the Customs clearance process. In order to clear goods without delay, CBSA must be able to identify a large number of relevant factors, including:
- Who is importing it?
- What is it?
- Where was it made?
- What is it made of?
- What tariff treatment is it entitled to?
These questions illustrate the Customs process. The purpose of import documentation is to clearly answer these and other questions for CBSA who must determine if the goods are prohibited, are subject to regulations from other government departments such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and comply with Customs legislation with respect to value and marking of the goods.
In addition, CBSA attempt to determine if goods are classified correctly under the Harmonized System. Proper documentation, including certificates of origin, is also necessary for claiming preferential treatment under trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
If your organization does not care enough about its goods to provide proper import documentation, CBSA cannot be faulted for not clearing your shipments in a timely manner.
How can you avoid costly delays at the border?
#1 - Understand your legal obligations under Canadian legislation. You as the importer are ultimately responsible for particulars of your import shipments. You want to know what licenses or permits are required for your product before the shipment arrives at the border.
#2 - Enlist the support of a competent Customs broker. Strong supplier relationships with supply chain partners elevate the visibility of shipments in transit.
#3 - Initiate training for employees responsible for liaising with suppliers regarding import requirements. By developing a sustainable training program, you will ensure knowledge of compliance requirements.
#4 - Ensure foreign suppliers comply with their obligations to provide adequate shipment documentation including commercial invoices, certifications, packing slips, certificates of origin and other applicable compliance documents.
#5 - Make sure all documents are legible. If you are unable to read a handwritten document or struggle to read a photocopied document, then chances are Customs will not be able to read it either.
#6 - Identify the country of origin of the goods. If this information is missing or hard to find, it raises suspicion with Customs. Incomplete documentation can result in fees that can cost your company $150 or more.
#7 - Determine the correct 10-digit tariff classification number for the imported goods. An incorrect classification number may delay your imports and incur penalties from CBSA.
#8 - Pay any amounts owing related to duties and taxes. It is your responsibility as the importer to know what duties and taxes apply and to pay them promptly.
We have a network of offices in the United States and Canada, ready to assist you with your imports. We can answer your questions about Customs and help get your imports where they need to be quickly and efficiently. For more information on how we can help you maximize delivery performance and improve customer satisfaction...
Information provided by: Customs Brokerage Dept. - Cole International