Blog Posts

Oops! Mistakes happen

 
Have you ever worried that you might have missed something when filling out your customs paperwork? As an importer, you know how important it is to accurately declare your goods and back everything up with the correct documentation.
 
But maybe you had an “off” day or inadvertently enlisted the help of someone who wasn’t fully knowledgeable about the complicated requirements for some of your goods. Now what?
 
Mistakes happen – we’re human after all. But customs agencies are strict and not necessarily forgiving, so it can be stressful to end up wondering and worrying about an error or omission you made.
 
But don’t fret. Whether you notice your error immediately or even up to four years after you’ve imported an item, you can still catch it and potentially avoid costly penalties.
 
Voluntary Disclosure
 
The Canada Border Services Agency’s Voluntary Disclosure program allows importers to disclose previously unreported information or correct inaccurate or incomplete information that was provided on their customs documentation.
 
Ouups mistakesIf the mistake is found within 90 days, a Voluntary Disclosure may not be necessary because this may be correctible under section 32.2 of the Customs Act. But if the disclosure/correction is made after that 90 day period, the importer must apply to correct this through the submission of a Voluntary Disclosure.
 
In order to be valid, a Voluntary Disclosure must:
  • be voluntary (i.e. not prompted by any action by the CBSA or another government agency)

  • involve the potential imposition of a penalty, interest or an action against the goods or person

  • take into account any special considerations regarding regulated, restricted or prohibited goods

  • involve contraventions that are non-repetitive (a voluntary disclosure may be denied when a previous voluntary disclosure has been granted for the same issue).

It also must be complete, as per the specific requirements relevant to the incident.

(See Memorandum D11-6-4: Relief of Penalties and/or Interest Including Voluntary Disclosure for more information.)
 
It’s still not a guarantee
 
If a Voluntary Disclosure application is successful, CBSA can, at their discretion, forgive penalties and interest owing (and, of course, all applicable duties and taxes based on the corrected information would then be payable). And, once your application has been reviewed, you’ll be obliged to fix the process so it doesn’t happen again.
 
But since the CBSA has discretion on whether or not to forgive an importer’s errors or omissions, it is important to know that submitting a voluntary disclosure does not guarantee success.
 
We can help!
 
Not sure whether you can make use of the Voluntary Disclosure program? Email our consulting department to discuss this or any other matter relating to the import side of your business.
 
Contact us today!
 
Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International