Top 4 Reasons For Delay With CFIA Regulated Goods

With each spring and summer there comes an influx of Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulated perishable shipments, including beloved summer classics such as pineapples, coconuts, and beautiful flowers for weddings.

As expected with the increase in imports, in turn there comes an increase in reasons for delay at the port of crossing. With the season coming to a close, we thought we would share the most common we encountered with tips on how to avoid them on future shipments.

1. Poor Quality Or Illegibility Of Document Submission

Oftentimes a document is printed, copied, and faxed/or a picture is taken out of focus, then sent to the customs broker rendering the details of the document illegible. In addition, many other documents are sent that are not necessary for the release, adding to the confusion.

How To Avoid This:

  • Ensure the carrier only sends the specific documents required to the Customs Broker. To understand what documents are required for any release request, enter the details of your shipment into the CFIA Automated Import Reference System
  • To avoid the possibility of a document's quality diminishing from a fax, photo, or a combination of the two, shippers are encouraged to email the documents directly to your Customs Broker. They will review the details upon receipt and advise you if anything is missing. The Customs Broker can then start the entry process and complete it once they receive the Cargo Control Number from your carrier.

2. Incorrect Or Incomplete Information

Every import release request must include a minimum amount of information in order for customs to be able to make a release decision. Most of this information appears on the Canada Customs Invoice or Commercial Invoice or their equivalent.

How To Avoid This:

Ensure that the documentation that is sent to the Customs Broker has all of the following information:

1. Vendor

  • Name of the seller or party consigning the goods to Canada
  • Complete address including country
  • Not to be confused with the Exporter (if different from Vendor)

2. Importer

  • Name of the importing party responsible for payment of duties and taxes
  • Complete address including country
  • Not to be confused with the Consignee (if different than the Importer)

3. Commodities

  • Full description of all items in layman’s terms, including what it's made of, and used for
  • Must reflect all items in shipment including use and composition (steel, plastic, etc.)

4. Country of Manufacture

  • Country of manufacture for each item
  • Not to be confused with the country where the items are being shipped from (country of export)

5. Quantity and Weight

  • Number of packages
  • Total weight (net and gross)

6. Value

  • Unit prices and extended totals
  • No-charge items must have their fair market value in the absence of a sale

7. Conditions of Sale

  • Incoterms® being used 
  • Reason for the shipment (sale, warranty replacement, sample, etc.)
  • Any cash or trade-related discounts

8. Currency of Settlement

  • This could be Canadian or U.S. funds, or any currency of settlement in which the goods were purchased

9. Reference number

  • Importer invoice, purchase order or project number
How To Fill Out Canada Customs Invoice

3. Inadequate Processing Time

Release request processing times are dependent on the completeness of the documentation received, complexity of the shipment, and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and Participating Government Agency (PGA) processing times.

Each entity, be it Canada Customs, the CFIA, and the customs broker, have their own minimum standard for documentation submission times prior to a carrier's arrival at the port. Generally speaking, minimum processing times look something like this:

Goods not regulated by PGAs = 3 hours

PGA regulated goods = 4 hours

CFIA regulated goods = 5 hours

How To Avoid This:

  • If your carrier is 2 hours from the border, it's imperative to have your documents submitted to your Customs Broker at least a few hours before that so that they may transmit the information to CBSA, who will then send it to any applicable PGAs who will then send it to CFIA for final review.
  • Avoid having unrealistic arrival time expectations, if the minimum processing times can not be met. Be sure to allow each party their respective time frames to process the information.

4. The Release Is Rejected

Sometimes, the best attempts end in having to start again - as is the case with rejected release requests. The Customs Broker will send in the release request to Customs and respective government agencies, only to have them kick it back with a reject notice, which can include the reason for the failed attempt.

How To Avoid This:

  • Ensure the Customs Invoice (or similar) is completed correctly.
  • Ensure a Certificate of Origin is present for each product in the shipment that requires one. 
  • Ensure the Phytosanitary Certificate has the accurate case count, the "shipper’s original" visual on the bottom right corner as well as the complete consignee address including country.
  • For shipments of plants, ensure the supplier's information is accurate and complete.
  • For meat shipments, ensure that the shipment includes an Official Meat Inspection Certificate.

We hope that the tips help you and your carries avoid delays at the port for your CFIA regulated goods.

On-Demand Course: How To Import CFIA Regulated Goods
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About Author
Cherie Storms
CCS (CA & US), CTCS, CBSA Prof. Designate

Cherie Storms is the Canadian Operations Manager with PCB Customs Brokers, with over 18 years in international trade operations and regulatory experience. Since joining the company in 2007, she has become an Executive Board Member for the Canadian Customs Brokers Society, BC Region, and spoke at the Women in Transportation Annual General Meeting in 2010 regarding her experience running international logistics for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Cherie is a member of CSCB's National Commercial Operations and eManifest Committee and sits on the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers' Board of Directors. In 2020, Cherie received the Emerging Leader award in the annual Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey Women in Business Awards. In her off time, Cherie is a motorsports driver for the Shift Up Now racing team, SCCA and CACC Women on Track Leader, racing tracks in Daytona and Indianapolis. With multiple championships, Cherie is a leader in the Jr Ambassador Program, encouraging young girls to excel in motorsports. Cherie has spoken at many seminars on the importance of trade compliance. She is currently enrolled in the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Business Management Program to become an international trade lawyer.

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.