In 7 Steps To Ocean Importing | Part 1 you learned the first three (3) steps in ocean importing:

  1. Before You Import
  2. Get Professionals On Your Team
  3. Before Your Goods Are Shipped

Now we will dive into the last four (4) steps involved in ocean importing. Again, these steps are intended to minimize aggravation, maximize returns, and educate you on the process of importing goods from abroad via ocean.

4. When Your Goods Are Shipped

After all the research is done and you have ordered your goods, it's now time to get them on the boat and ship them to their destination. Once the goods have arrived at the Port of Arrival, have been discharged, and have been issued arrival notices by the carrier/co-loader, there are three (3) simple procedures between you and your freight:

  • Steamship Release
  • Customs Release
  • Local Delivery

5. Arranging The Steamship Release

In order to protect an overseas supplier's interest, a bill of lading is prepared at the time the goods are shipped. Bills of lading generally fall into two (2) categories:

  • Original
  • Express Bill of Lading

An original bill of lading is a negotiable instrument. It must be surrendered to the freight company in Canada in order for you to get access to your goods. You can think of it like a receipt to show the freight agent that you have paid for the goods, and that your supplier has been satisfied and is willing to release them to you.

Sometimes an express bill of lading is issued or a Telex Release, so their requirement to surrender the original bill of lading to the steamship line or freight forwarder is non-existent.

There are also several other costs you should be aware of if you intend to ship goods by boat. Depending on how much was prepaid overseas, there may be dock charges owing at the warehouse, terminal charges, examination charges, and local delivery charges. A container can hold freight for multiple buyers in Canada. With Less than Container Load (LCL) shipments, they are taken to a bonded warehouse for deconsolidation. The freight forwarder who arranges the movement of the container will dictate which bonded warehouse the deconsolidation will take place at. All collect charges owing must be paid before the steamship line or freight forwarder will steamship release your cargo.

If it is the first time your company has imported for overseas, it is very likely that your cargo will be selected for examination. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) work in conjunction with each other and many other Participating Government Agency (PGA) to determine admissibility of goods. The type of exam the freight will go for is often dependent on which Government Department regulates the commodity being imported.

There are several types of exams:

  • Wood packing
  • Commercial
  • Soil inspection
  • Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS)

VACIS uses gamma rays to inspect cargo without unloading the whole container. These are just a few examples of the types of exams CBSA can arrange to safeguard Canada, and although there is a cost associated with these inspections, CBSA is looking out for the best interest of the Canadian public and business communities. It should also be noted, CBSA does a lot of random exams too. Even companies that import goods on a daily basis can have their freight selected for examination.

Exams can take a couple days or couple of weeks depending on how much other cargo CBSA has selected for inspection. If you have promised a specific delivery date to your client, give yourself some leeway as the length of time it takes to get goods inspected is beyond your control.

6. Arranging The Customs Release

Once your supplier couriers the original documents to you, get your paperwork to your Customs Broker as early as possible. If any questions arise about the nature of the goods you are importing, they can be addressed before the vessel arrives. The cost of storage and demurrage can be expensive if the clearance does not happen within the free time period given by the dock or warehouse, so it is in your best interest not to procrastinate.

Once your customs broker has all their questions regarding your freight answered, they arrange to get your entry transmitted electronically to Customs. There are a few exceptions where paper entries are required, but for the most part, entries are sent to CBSA electronically. Your customs broker will enter the invoice data to send to CBSA in the same format as your supplier prepared the invoice, on a line by line basis.

If additional documentation is required for the release of your freight, it is more desirable to request it before the cargo arrives instead of having the added pressure of a deadline before storage starts. It can cost you in Customs duties if certain paperwork is required for your goods to qualify for a discounted duty rate under a trade agreement that the exporting country has with Canada. If you have done your research in advance, the Customs clearance process is almost guaranteed to go smoothly.

7. Arranging For Local Delivery After The Steamship And Customs Release

You may have a local trucker you like to work with, but if not, your customs broker has contacts in the trucking industry that can help get your goods from the warehouse to your door. It never hurts to ask for a quote and it might just save you money.

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About Author
Maria Mate
CCS, CTCS

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.