Understanding The Pre-Arrival Review System
The Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) allows Customs Brokers to submit shipment release information (provided by the importer and carrier) to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for review and processing before the goods arrive in Canada. This speeds up the shipment release or referral for examination process for when the carrier arrives with the freight at the border. In order for the system to be successful, all trade chain partners need to do their part.
At Shipment Pickup
The carrier's role is vital to the PARS process. At the time the freight is picked up from the shipper, the carrier will affix a PARS sticker/label to the commercial documents and forward them to the customs broker so they can set up the shipment with the CBSA, in advance.
The PARS Sticker/Label
The PARS sticker/label is made up of your carrier code and combined with a unique shipment number. This 'PARS' or Cargo Control Number (CCN) is critical because it identifies both the carrier and the shipment to the CBSA at the time of reporting and when release documents are presented.
When faxing, or emailing commercial documents to the customs broker the carrier must advise them of
- The port of crossing
- The estimated date and time of arrival
- The carrier's contact information - in case the customs broker needs to reach you
TIP: Providing the customs broker and CBSA sufficient processing time will prevent a carrier or their drivers from being delayed at the border. It also allows the customs broker time to reach out to other trade chain partners if additional information is required.
Before Heading To The Canadian Border
Under the PARS process, the customs broker will submit the release information to the CBSA either electronically or in paper format - depending on the release requirements for the goods being shipped. Goods that require permits, licenses or certificates will require additional processing time using PARS.
With the advent of ACI eManifest making the transmission of pre-arrival conveyance and cargo data mandatory, effective January 11, 2016, carriers now have one more obligation to fulfill prior to heading to the border.
It is important to note that while the customs clearance process and ACI eManifest are closely linked, they are two separate and distinct things. In other words, you cannot just send all of your information to the customs broker and expect that they will set up your PARS for clearance and file your emanifest. Conversely, you cannot send that same data to your eManifest service provider and expect that they will file your eManifest and set up your PARS. The exception to this rule would be in situations where the customs broker clearing the shipment is also an emanifest service provider as is the case with Pacific Customs Brokers and its eManifest filing service, Border Pro.
TIP: Always verify that the shipment has been set up and that you are good to proceed to the border. You can verify the status of your shipment by calling the customs broker directly or by using their online PARS lookup tool.
At The Canadian Border
When you or your driver arrive at the Customs booth, the Customs officer checks all the commercial paperwork presented, and uses the bar-coded cargo control number on the PARS stickers to get access to the recommendation and also to determine whether or not the shipment can be released.
TIP: It is important for carriers to remember that the best way to ensure a smooth and seamless border crossing is to get all paperwork for both the customs clearance and eManifest sent as soon as possible. The more time that the broker has to review documentation, the better the chances are that your shipment will be in "accepted" status when you arrive and your truck will roll right through.