As you might be aware, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) conducts random examinations on containers arriving in Canada from around the globe. The purpose of these examinations is to ensure that contraband, counterfeit goods and other prohibited items do not enter Canada.

The facility that CBSA uses to conduct these examinations is called the Customs Examination Facility (CEF). A CEF is a secure compound where CBSA can perform examinations under strict security.

The procedure for this type of exam is fairly straightforward as detailed below:

While At The Port

  • Identification: CBSA identifies the container it wishes to examine.
  • Notification: The steamship company is notified of the request for examination. The steamship company must then make the container available to CBSA.
  • Transportation: The container is transported from the dock to the CEF.
The Issues And Solutions Of Container Exams At The Port Of Vancouver

While At The Container Exam Facility

  • The container is received.
  • The examination is conducted.
  • The exam is completed and the container is returned to the dock for release and delivery.
  • The customs broker notifies the importer that the goods have been released.

These examinations are both lengthy in time and costly to the importer. While at the CEF facility, the examination process can exceed a month before conclusion. The cost of such exams can range from $3,000 to $6,000 or more. Additional demurrage - which are charges to the steamship company or carrier for failure to load or unload a conveyance within a certain time frame - is also common.

CBSA has advised that they are aware of these issues are are working to address them.

In the interim, Pacific Customs Brokers encourages importers who have experienced these delays and extra costs to submit their concerns to CBSA through any of the following means and copy their local MLA or MP.

In-Bond Trailer And Container Sealing Requirements

Methods Of Reporting A Complaint

  • To file a report online, visit: Compliments, Comments and Complaints
  • To file a report via fax, send to: 613-948-3177
  • To file a report via mail, send to: Linda Lizotte-MacPherson, CBSA President 191 Laurier Avenue West, 6th Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L8
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About Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined Pacific Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

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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.