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Logistics 101: Customs Basics

Entering the complex business of import and export can be intense and overwhelming. Our Logistics 101 series is a gentle introduction and an easy-to-follow guide through turbulent, ever-changing waters. We aren’t going to just toss you a compass and wish you luck; we’re in the boat with you, guiding you safely to shore. This series simplifies complex concepts, not just for the sake of it, but to empower you and your team.

The first instalment of the series covers the basics of customs. We’ll refer to articles and posts we’ve published in the past, and quick, informative videos to help you get up to speed quickly and move forward with confidence.

Border agenciesCamera_51859675_s

When importing goods into Canada, you’ll be working with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). When importing into the U.S., you’ll work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Each country has a set of laws and regulations with which you and your goods need to comply.

Find these agencies online here:

Customs compliance

Customs compliance means being aware of, and abiding by, the laws and policies regulating cross-border trade. This means knowing what’s required by Canada Customs (CBSA) and/or U.S. Customs (CBP). Because your business environment is constantly evolving, and the regulatory environment is too, your compliance process and monitoring needs to be ongoing.

Here are some quick resources to help you on your way:

  1. Understanding customs compliance
  2. VIDEO: What is Customs Compliance?
  3. A refresher on U.S. customs compliance
  4. The basics of CBSA
  5. CBSA’s most current verification priorities (please note, this changes every year, so refer back annually)
  6. How to develop a customs compliance program for your business

Customs auditsAuditor_39267587_s

A customs audit evaluates your company practices and records. It helps the border agency judge the integrity of the information you supply under self-assessment, and your level of compliance with laws and regulations. Reporting accurately, submitting corrections promptly, and keeping good records can contribute to a positive profile with the agency.

A few proactive resources to ensure you're prepared for an audit:

  1. A primer on customs audits and compliance
  2. VIDEO: Are you ready for a visit from customs?
  3. VIDEO: What is a typical customs audit trail?

Customs ruling

A customs ruling is a written decision by a customs authority that provides certainty to an importer on key information relating to an imported good. Rulings make the import process easier and more predictable by assuring both the importer and the customs authority that taxes, duty, and other obligations will be handled correctly.

Read more about customs rulings to understand how they work and how they differ in Canada and the U.S.

Customs brokerageStrong_41097290_s

A customs broker is a professional agent licensed by the government to act on behalf of an importer or exporter. They submit all the documents necessary for customs, and they are both experienced and knowledgeable of the ever-changing regulations and requirements. They are powerful and helpful collaborators in keeping your business running smoothly and efficiently at the border.

Here are some resources to help you understand what a customs broker does and how they can help:

  1. VIDEO: What is a customs broker and do I need one?
  2. VIDEO: What is the value of a good customs broker?
  3. Working with a customs broker

We’ve been in the customs business for more than half a century. We’re ready to help you navigate the changing tides of international laws and regulations. Contact our experienced customs brokerage team today!

 Contact us today!

Customs Brokerage. It's what we do. 


Information provided by: Customs Brokerage Dept. - Cole International 

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