Should Commercial Carriers Crossing Into Canada Have A Carrier Code?

Should Commercial Carriers Crossing Into Canada Have A Carrier Code?

If you are driving a vehicle and transporting commercial goods from the U.S. into Canada, the following blog will help you understand why you should consider applying for a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) carrier code.

Advance Commercial Information (ACI) eManifest is in place and a carrier code is mandatory for carriers to transact business with CBSA.

If you are a carrier transporting commercial goods into Canada you must have a carrier code. A carrier who arrives at the border without a carrier code will not be permitted to haul the commercial goods into Canada.

Before we assess eligibility, let's understand a couple of related terms.

What Is A Carrier Code?

A carrier code is a unique four-character code issued by the CBSA to identify a carrier. There are two main types of codes:

  1. Non-bonded carrier code - Carriers in possession of a non-bonded code must have freight coming into Canada released at the border (first port of arrival).
  2. Bonded carrier code - Bonded carriers have posted security which allows them to transport shipments (not cleared at the first point of arrival) inland to a bonded warehouse of their choice.
Bonded Carrier vs. Non-Bonded Carrier

Who Is A Carrier?

CBSA defines a carrier as a person involved in international commercial transportation who operates a conveyance used to transport specified goods to or from Canada. To operate a conveyance means to have legal custody and control of the conveyance as an owner, a lessee, a charterer, a mortgagor, or on a hire purchase agreement.

Specified Goods

  1. Commercial goods;
  2. Empty cargo containers to be imported into Canada and that are not for sale; and
  3. Any other goods to be transported to Canada for a fee.

We can now review the eligibility to hold or receive a carrier code from the CBSA. When a company or carrier applies for a carrier code, it is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate to the CBSA that they are in fact a carrier and that they meet the definition of a carrier.

If you meet the definition of a carrier and transport goods for a fee, then you are eligible to receive or hold a carrier code.

Parties Ineligible For A Carrier Code

1. An importer transporting their own goods into Canada under the definition of "hand-carried goods".

"Hand-carried goods" are defined as commercial goods carried by a paying passenger on board traveller's commercial conveyances (bus, taxi, plane, ship, etc.) or commercial goods being imported and accounted for at the port of entry by the owner of a business, or an employee, driving a "not for hire", non-commercial conveyance described as:

(a) an owner of a business or an employee of a business driving a vehicle registered under the business (fleet car) transporting commercial goods for the business; or

(b) an owner of a business or an employee of a business driving its own personal vehicle transporting commercial goods for the business

2. The conveyance is the goods being imported.

For example, a car dealer purchases a vehicle in the United States and drives the vehicle into Canada for commercial importation purposes. The vehicle is considered "hand-carried" goods.

3. A ship’s agent in the marine mode is not directly engaged in the international commercial transportation of goods.

For example, a ship’s agent who applies for a carrier code for the sole purpose of providing your ACI to the CBSA on behalf of other carriers under the ship’s agent's carrier code.

4. Companies who do not own or operate a conveyance and are not involved in the actual transportation of goods.

For example, a logistics provider who does not have an exclusive contract with a third party and hires that third party to transport the goods into Canada.

5. Companies who do not have a conveyance or cannot provide a history of leasing/renting vehicles for carrier purposes at the time they will be requesting a carrier code from the CBSA.

For example, a company who is interested in becoming a carrier to transport goods into Canada; however, it intends to lease or purchase a conveyance once it determines its business volume and after it obtains a carrier code from the CBSA.

Should Commercial Carriers Crossing Into Canada Have A Carrier Code?

Should You Surrender Your Carrier Code?

For-hire carriers have reporting and record keeping requirements which include eManifests under Advance Commercial Information (ACI). If you currently hold a carrier code and do not transport commercial goods for hire we recommend you contact CBSA at the contact information provided below and surrender your carrier code thus removing your responsibility for eManifest reporting.

Commercial Registration Canada Border Services Agency
191 Laurier Avenue West, 12th Floor
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0L8

Phone: (Toll-free in North America): 1.866.749.6623
Phone: 1.613.960.1702

How To Get A Carrier Code?

To file for a carrier code you must apply directly to CBSA. You must fill out an application and email If you have questions, call toll-free 866.749.6623.

Carrier Code Assistance

Pacific Customs Brokers offers assistance with the application process. Please contact our Carrier Help Desk at 855.542.6644 or for more details.

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About the Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined PCB 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.

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.