• Service: Tax, Global Indirect Tax
  • Type: Business and industry issue
  • Date: 8/1/2012

Canada to streamline customs process for importers and exporters 

Canada to streamline customs process

Companies importing and exporting goods in and out of Canada will be affected by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) initiative to modernize systems for assessing and collecting duties and taxes, and to automate many processes.

Once implemented, the program will allow importers and exporters to use online services to make electronic payments, view consolidated account statements and register for CBSA programs (e.g. Partners-in-Protection or Customs Self Assessment) via a new client registration module. The CBSA’s key objective is to ensure more accurate, complete, reliable and timely reporting of goods, while providing stronger internal financial controls for both importers and exporters and the CBSA. The CBSA proposes a 10 year implementation of the program in four phases.

Accounts receivable ledger

The CBSA will compile the financial reporting of import transactions and the payment of duties and taxes electronically in an electronic accounts receivable (AR) ledger, eliminating existing manual processes. For example, transactions will be listed under the individual importer with a running balance of what is owed. The AR ledger will also produce a consolidated statement of each importer account. The AR ledger will include an electronic payment option through which the CBSA will be able to offset refunds against receivables. In addition, importers will be able to obtain their statements via a secure website. The CBSA proposes completing this phase of the program in 2013.

Client identification

Importers and exporters will have unique client identifier numbers, which will enable the CBSA to manage their identification and enrollment in CBSA programs and services more efficiently. The CBSA proposes completing this phase of the program in 2014.

Assessment, reassessment and client registration

In the third phase of the program, the CBSA will address the functionality between CBSA assessments and re-assessments, which can affect the amounts importers and exporters owe to the CBSA. In addition, the CBSA will create a new client registration module allowing it to integrate trade programs under one umbrella. Importers and exporters will be able to register for CBSA programs and view their accounts through a self-service portal. The proposed timeline for this phase is 2013-2016.

Trade modernization

The final phase focuses on new processes and tools to modernize the CBSA’s trade programs (tariff, original and valuation) and change how the CBSA collects and reports trade data. The CBSA will continue to enhance and modernize the self-service portal for importers and exporters and improve its processes. The timeline of this phase is 2014-2020. The CBSA notes that the benefits of this modernization will include:

  • providing an electronic payment option for importers and exporters enabling them to retrieve their statements through a secure website
  • improving the financial information flow between importers and exporters and the CBSA
  • improving the accuracy and reliability of trade data collected
  • improving the dissemination of timely and accurate data relating to trade management.

The CBSA is currently carrying out consultations on this initiative.


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