Customs Brokerage Definitions


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ACROSS
Accellerated Customs Release Operations Support System. A computerized system which provides an electronic invoice to the Canada Revenue Agency to obtain a release of imported goods.
B3 Entry
A Canada Customs form, which details the classification, codes used for the goods being imported. Also outlines the appropriate duty and taxes applied.
Bill of Lading
A document that shows the terms and conditions of a contract between a shipper and a transport company.
Bonded Warehouse
A Customs supervised warehouse where goods are stored "in bond" until released by Canada Customs.
Business Number
A number used for dealing with Canada Customs, based on the GST, corporate tax number, to be used for importing purposes. It must be converted to a business number, if not already.
CADEX
Customs Automated Data Exchange Systems. A computer system which allows importers and brokers to electronically transmit duty and tax information to Customs.
Certificate of Origin
A document certifying the country of manufacture for goods being shipped. This may allow the broker to apply a favorable duty rate, depending on the country of origin, as some countries goods are restricted in Canada.
Disbursement Fee
A fee charged by a broker for payment of duties and taxes to Canada Customs on the importers behalf.
Drawback
A rebate (refund) of import duties and taxes.
Export/Import License
A document issued by the Government of the exporting country, to permit the goods to be shipped to certain countries or vice verse. Only applies to certain commodities.
Export/Import Permit
Department of Foreign Affairs issues this on certain goods that they control and monitor (i.e. lumber, textiles).
Importer of Record
The person or company responsible for payment of duties and taxes and the maintenance of Customs records.
PARS
Pre-Arrival Review System. A Customs system which allows importers and brokers to submit release information to customs for review and processing before the goods arrive in Canada. This speeds up the release or referral for examination process when the carrier arrives in Canada with the goods. The release information must be submitted electronically. PARS includes the processing of goods that require permits, licences, or certificates. PARS procedures are available for goods imported by different modes of transport:
  • PARS - goods arriving by highway and cleared at the border;
  • RAIL PARS - goods arriving by rail;
  • MARINE PARS - marine freight;
  • AIR PARS - air freight; and
  • IN PARS - goods cleared at an inland highway sufferance warehouse.
Customs and the CFIA have developed PARS procedures for certain agricultural products regulated or controlled by the CFIA.
RMD
Release on Minimum Documents. A quick Customs release approved by initially submitting minimum documentation to Canada Customs and then submitting full documentation within five days to compete the Customs entry.
Warehouse Entry
An entry advising Customs that goods are being stored in a Bonded warehouse, therefore delaying payment of duties and taxes for a period of up to two years.
ATA Carnet
Carnet is a french word meaning 'little document'. A document used to facilitate temporary importation. Generally, the underlying cargo would be identifiable by way of serial numbers etc. The cargo is subject to an inspection by customs prior to departure and the carnet document itself is endorsed by customs with the appropriate identification numbers. The cargo is inspected on arrival too and allowed entry on a temporary basis (normally up to six month). On export back to origin, or onto a second destination, the cargo is again examined by customs and the carnet endorsed. Ultimately, the cargo returns to its original country and is verified by customs on arrival. (Note that the sale of the goods whilst they are in the overseas place is also permitted and that return is therefore not mandatory, but clearly import duties (if applicable) would fall due in the event of sale). The use of the carnet is that the goods are not subject to import duties and the device is particularly useful when moving cargo around for exhibition or for temporary use in project work. The carnet is not universally recognised by customs and its acceptance should be verified before a full consideration of its merits are undertaken.
Forward Cover (FEC or Foreign Exchange Contract)
This is a Banking facility devised to allow (normally) importers to cost goods using a fixed exchange rate. What this allows is for the importer to calculate the landed cost of the goods and to therefore sell goods at the first available moment, well in advance of the due date for the supplier to be paid. In this way the importer will avoid having to bear the risk of exchange rate fluctuation. The rate of exchange used by the bank is one that they anticipate will apply on the due date - i.e. the date that the supplier is to be paid. For example: If cargo arrives on day one and is due to be paid for on day 90, the importer contacts the bank and enters into a contract with them, where the importer undertakes to buy the required foreign exchange on day 90. In recognition of this undertaking, the bank then fixes a rate of exchange, which will stand for that future purchase of currency by the importer. The importer uses this exchange rate in the costing calculations. When day 90 arrives, the importer buys the exchange at the agreed rate (and pays his supplier). If the local currency has deteriorated against the foreign one, the importer has no risk - equally if it has improved, he has no gain. However, it gives stability in markets where the local currency is volatile. Exporters also have a use for these contracts especially when they give their prices to foreign buyers in a currency other than their local currency. The scenario is now reversed as the exporter obtains a fixed rate at which the Bank will buy the foreign currency from the supplier when the supplier is paid. The exporter effectively 'fixes' their profit in this manner, and again avoids any consequence of exchange rate fluctuation. The caution is always that you must be very clear in expressing your intentions to a shipping line. For example, you must be clear in distinguishing your 'enquiries' for rates from your 'bookings' for space. This is easier to achieve when enquiring or booking in writing, but much work is done verbally, and you must be cautious that you avoid misrepresenting yourself. A verbal agreement "is not worth the paper it is written on!" and is always fertile ground for misunderstanding and dispute.
Notify Party

On transport documents - particularly those used by Sea and Air - there is normally a section marked "Notify Party".

The location of this section varies but it is often the third box down on the top left-hand side of the transport document.

It is used by the Shipper and or the party who have contracted with the Carrier to identify any third party that is to be notified by the Carrier of the cargo's impending arrival. It could be a Bank, a Clearing Agent etc. The use of the Notify Party facility goes back to a period prior to mass communication and nowadays this facility is often no longer provided by the Carriers. In fact NO CARRIER guarantees to notify any party regarding arrival. Should they offer the service it is without obligation, risk or undertaking to actually perform the service. The details of the Notify party are usually in a box below the Buyer and may often nominate a "first" and "second" notify party.

Caution should be exercised if the Notify Party "box" is intended for the sole means of pre-alert communication between the seller and the buyer.

Commercial Invoice

This expression is used to describe the invoice issued by the Seller to the Buyer for payment.

Exactly what the invoice contains in its detail is governed by two considerations. The first of these are any demands laid down by the laws of the countries of origin or destination. These laws may specify the wording to be used, how values are to be expressed or broken down (this is particularly important when calculating values for duty purposes) and the languages to be used, number of copies to be issued and so on.

The second consideration is that the invoice must comply with any terms and conditions of the Sales Contract regarding the invoice. This may require additional details over and above anything that is legislated.It is a vital document in trade and Buyers and Sellers frequently overlook its importance until they are faced with a problem. This reactive approach often results in detention charges and storage as well as disputes and uncertainty. It would be far more beneficial if both parties were proactive in discussing the shape, form and content of the invoice during the negotiation of the sale in the first instance.

Note that the actual expression "commercial invoice" is normally not required to be expressed on the document itself. Frequently the invoice has no wording indicating what it is - the assumption being that everyone will recognise it by its content. This again is dangerous and may even be legislated against - such as in South Africa where the Seller is required by law to issue the commercial invoice clearly marked "Tax Invoice", regardless of whether tax is raised on the sale or not.