March 15, 2024 | Circular No. 11642

Dear Member,

It has come to our attention that CBSA has been issuing an increasing number of penalties to carriers who fail to submit the CACM (Conveyance Arrival Certification Message) within the appropriate timeframes, especially in cases where the CACM is submitted after the vessel has arrived at the first Canadian port of arrival (FPOA).

Members should note that although CBSA regulations allow for the CACM to be submitted up to two hours before the vessel arrives at its first Canadian port, this window does not extend to the post-arrival period.  In other words, there is currently no window for submitting the CACM after the vessel has arrived at the FPOA.   You will find below the relevant extracts from CBSA Memorandum D3-5-1 (marine import reporting requirements) in this respect:

Conveyance Arrival Certification Message (CACM)

  1. To meet the reporting requirements under section 12(1) of the Customs Act, the COC must transmit a CACM upon arrival at the FPOA. An arrival in the marine mode is defined as when the marine vessel lands at a CBSA office following arrival in Canada. The marine vessel will meet the definition of “landing” when it first comes to rest in Canada; whether at anchor, at dock or berthed alongside at the nearest CBSA office designated for that purpose.
  2. The CACM is required in addition to the cargo and conveyance data previously transmitted according to the prescribed timeframes, as described in the Reporting of Imported Goods Regulations.
  3. The CACM must be transmitted and received within a two (2) hour window, allowing marine carriers to transmit their arrival request up to two hours in advance of their actual arrival at a Canadian port. This two-hour window is conditional on the vessel being in Canadian waters at the time the arrival request is submitted to the CBSA. Furthermore, the actual time of arrival transmitted on the CACM must be the actual time the message is transmitted. Should a vessel anchor at a significant distance from a CBSA office outside the two (2) hour window, it would not be considered “arrived” and the CACM would not be required.

Although the language of the D-Memorandum may appear to lend itself to some interpretation, CBSA has made it very clear that there is no ambiguity in terms of the regulator’s intent, which is that the two-hour timeframe for submitting the CACM applies to the pre-arrival period only.  Therefore, any cases in which the CACM is reported after the vessel has arrived at the FPOA may be be deemed as non-compliant and  potentially subject to a penalty.

SFC Actions & Interventions

Many members have reached out to us to express their concerns over this requirement and to highlight the need for a post-arrival window within which to submit the CACM.  We have raised this issue with CBSA on multiple occasions, and although progress has been slow, they have expressed a willingness to engage in further discussions with us on this particular topic.

We are now working to schedule a meeting with CBSA’s policy and compliance teams, at which members will have an opportunity to explain the practical realities and challenges of having to submit the CACM before the vessel arrives at the FPOA, especially in a context where CBSA’s definition of “arrival” is also unclear and subject to interpretation.  We will provide members with details on this meeting once a date has been set.

Reminder Regarding Liability for Penalties

As relates to CBSA penalties in more general terms, we also take this opportunity to remind members that from CBSA’s perspective, the only entity which has responsibility / liability for a penalty is the carrier code holder (or the entity under whose carrier code a cargo or conveyance transmission is made).

Although CBSA recognizes that a carrier code holder may enter into various kinds of business arrangements to fulfill their reporting requirements (including by engaging an agent to transmit information on their behalf and / or using a third party service provider such as CrimsonLogic to submit ACI), any errors or technical difficulties encountered by those third parties are (in CBSA’s view) the responsibility of the carrier code holder, and are therefore irrelevant as the basis for contesting a penalty.  This is also an issue we are pursuing with CBSA and with respect to which we hope to see a more reasonable approach in the future.

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We will continue to keep members informed of developments on these issues as they arise.  In the meantime, members with questions on any of the above, or any any CBSA matter in general, are welcome to contact me at anytime.

Sincerely,

Karen Kancens
Vice President