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Compliance Corner

   When it comes to customs compliance the devil is in the detail!


The compliance insights within this section are based on:

  • Years of experience submitting ACE and ACI e-Manifest / eManifest declarations
  • Years of experience of operating within the paper-based Canadian customs environment
  • Introducing ACE & ACI software improvements
  • Appealing and mitigating Canadian and U.S. Customs penalties
  • Testing, monitoring and improving carrier customs software systems
  • Clarifying regulations and expectations with CBSA and CBP
  • Managing highway carrier CSA, PIP, C-TPAT and FAST programs
  • Developing, testing, improving and implementing customs systems for Canadian TL & LTL carriers
  • Years of experience as a Canadian Customs Broker along with testing and implementing Canadian customs brokerage software
  • Obtaining and maintaining a Canadian Society of Customs Broker's Certified Customs Specialist and Certified Trade Compliance Specialist designations  
  • Managing Canadian and U.S. imports & exports for a medium sized Canadian Manufacturer

Both Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expect Highway Carriers and their Professional Transport Operators to be knowledgeable with respect to their border crossing requirements.  Information submitted within the eManifest declaration must be true, accurate and complete based on documentary evidence (bills of lading, contracts of carriage and supporting documentation) and accordance with the timelines, program specifications / requirements, customs procedures and regulations specified by CBSA and CBP.

Carriers who fail to meet their obligations may be subject to enforcement action at the border or after they have crossed.  Enforcement actions may be based on inaccurate  eManifest declarations, cargo examinations, investigations, targeting programs, audits or verifications, manifest amendments, voluntary declarations,voluntary importer declarations etc. 

Canada Border Services Agency may take a number of enforcement actions.  The may reject or request clarifications on specific eManifest declarations, examine cargo, seize equipment and goods, may refuse a carrier entry into Canada and / or issue Administrative Monetary Penalties etc.  

U.S. Customs Customs and Border Protection may also take a number of enforcement actions.  They may examine cargo, issue penalties, seize cargo and equipment or may refuse a carrier entry into the United States etc.  

Many CBSA penalties are issued for failing to submit ACI eManifest declarations or failing to submit them early enough to meet the one-hour prior notice requirement.  Penalties are also commonly issued for not providing an adequate cargo description.  CBP also issues many penalties for inadequate cargo description and failing to declare the proper piece count.  Both CBP and CBSA require carrier's to declare their cargo based on the smallest external packaging unit(s) and CBP has specifically excluded pallets within their packaging units within ACE to encourage carriers to declare the smallest external packaging unit(s).  Carriers who declare skids may be subject to additional inspections and penalties since CBP expects to find equipment / machinery strapped to a skid.  

Carriers crossing into Canada should be knowledgeable about the requirements and aware some declarations are still paper based.  Many of the requirements are  found within the business rules and program details of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Documents (ECCRD).  Carriers looking for additional visibility into the customs status of their shipments should incorporate the ECCRD ACI messages associated with Chapter 11 (Advance Commercial Information (ACI)/eManifest Notices) and Chapter 21 (Release Notification System) into their ACI eManifest systems.  Carriers handling shipment consolidations (i.e. truck to house bills) should incorporate the messages associated with Chapter 11 into their ACI e-Manifest systems.

Carriers crossing into the United States should be knowledgeable about their ACE declaration requirements and record keeping requirements and be aware some declarations are paper based.  Some ACE / ACI data variables may be conditional or optional and carriers may need to familiarize themselves with the ACE / ACI program standards.  CBP and CBSA have extensive information on their website and carriers may also wish to review Title 19 of US Code of Federal Regulations along with the appropriate Federal Register Publications for additional information.



Meeting your customs compliance obligations requires Professional Transport Operators (drivers) and carriers to be knowledgable about their customs responsibilities and to work with their partners (shippers, importers, exporters, customs brokers etc.) to ensure they have the required information to ensure their declarations are true, accurate and complete and accepted.  Since a Professional Transport Operator's / carrier's obligations are extensive, involve many import & export requirements and are subject to change, interpretations and enforcement mandates it is impossible to include or incorporate all the possible scenarios and potential shipment requirements within this website.  Therefore the information within this website is provided for informational purposes only and Professional Transport Operator's /Carrier's should refer to the appropriate legislation, laws, regulations, programming standards, government websites and contact the appropriate customs agency or other government agency or department officials for assistance.