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Single Window Initiative




The Single Window Initiative will be the next BIG CBSA initiative.  The initiative has been underway since March 29, 2015 with latest version of the program standard released in April 2017.  The initiative requires the customs brokers / importers to submit an electronic Integrated Import Declaration (IID) designed to meet the requirements of CBSA and the Participating Government Agency(s) (PGAs) to obtain a release of an importer’s shipment.

This CBSA-led modernization is designed to provide trade with a single point of entry for importers to electronically report their shipment information.  This information will be shared with the appropriate Participating Government Agencies and used for targeting and compliance purposes.  The initiative will require customs brokers / importers to dematerialize (i.e. take information from existing licenses, certificates, permits and other documents related to the importation) and electronically provide specific data to CBSA and the PGAs. 

Importers and Customs Brokers will still have to deal with paper too!  Depending on the regulatory restrictions customs brokers or importers may also be required to submit the document(s) to CBSA.  They will also have to identify the IID the image is associated with the submitted documents. In some cases, the original documents may still need to be given to CBSA and in others CBSA and the PGA(s) may expect both the imaged document(s) and the original(s).   These requirements will continue to evolve as initiatives by CBSA and PGAs in coordination with the World Customs Organization and other international organizations develop, promote and implement electronic certification processes (eCerts).

Presently the Single Window Initiative consists of 9 PGA’s and 38 programs.  The participating PGA’s are: 

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • Transport Canada (TC)
  • Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
  • Health Canada (HC)
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

A listing of the 38 specific programs can be found in Customs Notice 17-09.

Carriers transporting Customs Self Assessment Program (CSA) shipments will not be affected by this program.  Some shipments are also ineligible for an IID .  These ineligible declarations include: 

  • Temporary Importations (e.g. E29B, ATA Carnet)
  • Diplomatic goods carried by a commercial carrier
  • Shipments being released under Orders In Council (normally on an A8A manifest)
  • Personal Importations imported through the CBSA travellers stream
  • Settlers Effects
  • Returning Residents
  • Shipments being released under Estimated to Arrive and Value Added customs declarations
  • Courier / Low Value Shipment processing (LVSC)
  • Commercial “C” Type (Cash) B3 entries

In conclusion, the implementation of the Single Window Initiative will change the workflow and workload for every customs broker and importer submitting electronic declarations to CBSA and any PGA(s) associated with the specific declarations.  It will require customs brokers / importers to develop or implement new Integrated Import Declaration and Document Imaging software.  Implementation periods will vary between different customs brokers and importers and some may determine it may be more feasible to use the upcoming CBSA portal system to meet the requirements.  Carriers may see shipment delays and higher examination rates as CBSA and PGAs will have the ability to improve their targeting and compliance verifications once the Single Window Initiative has been implemented.