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This one’s for importers: Know your customs responsibilities

Canadian customs laws and regulations are complex and ever-changing, and importers large and small appreciate the challenges inherent in navigating such a system.
Non-compliance with customs requirements carries a range of penalties, the severity of which varies with the nature of the infraction. And while the monetary penalties may not be catastrophic, the non-monetary impact to a company’s reputation can be damaging and long- lasting.
Importers have a responsibility to know and follow the law. Not knowing the rules is no excuse for breaking the law.
Think outside the box: take your responsibilities seriously
Customs compliance
Even if your company has been doing things a certain way for many years, that does not mean it’s the correct way. Take a careful look at your import practices on a regular basis – don’t get stuck in a comfortable rut or lulled into a false sense of security based on past experience.
Your suppliers are key partners in trade and are responsible for entering accurate information on the exporter’s documentation. But ultimately, it’s importers – not brokers – who are responsible for providing accurate customs declarations and who will bear any extra customs costs (duties, penalties, service fees, etc.) resulting from non-compliance.
From us to you: a few tidbits of sage advice
  1. Never import a new product without checking with customs to find out what information is required. The requirements can vary over time, between products, and based on the country of origin.
  2. Require your supplier to provide all the information you will need to provide on your declaration, before they ship the goods to Canada.
  3. If you don’t already use a trusted customs broker, find one! Then provide them with as much information as you can on the goods you’re importing. Too much is better than too little.
  4. Importers have five days from the date of release before their customs broker is required to account for their goods. Notify your customs broker immediately if you learn new information in this period.
  5. If you realize you’ve made an error in your customs declaration, make the correction within 90 days to avoid incurring penalties.
Lean on me: We’re here to help
It can be a real challenge to keep up to date and fully informed on all that’s required by customs. But you don’t have to go it alone. Don’t hesitate to seek out help if you’re uncertain. There are professionals whose job is to keep current on customs requirements and to help make sense of it all.
Experienced professionals in our Trade Consulting department are available to answer your questions and help you be in the know about importing into Canada. Contact us today for more information on this or any other import, export or customs matters.
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Information provided by: Canadian Customs Compliance Dept. - Cole International
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