June 2, 2022 | Circular No. 11445

Dear Member,

Over the last two years, CBSA has allocated many of its resources to managing Canada’s land, air and marine borders within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Although CBSA has therefore been less active on some of its key policy and operational files than under normal circumstances, it has recently started to resume some of its pre-Covid work and re-engage with stakeholders through various forums.

In view of the above, we thought it would be useful to provide members with an overview of the key CBSA files that are on our agenda, and with respect to which we expect to engage with CBSA over the coming months.

Container Examination Process – Pilot Project

CBSA is developing a pilot project to test the feasibility of authorizing containers to move directly from a marine container examination facility (MCEF) to a bonded rail or intermodal yard, rather than being transported back to the marine terminal prior to release. This follows several years of discussions between industry and CBSA on how the current examination process could be modernized in order to avoid the delays and costs associated with returning examined containers back to the terminal.

Although industry had initially championed a proposal under which all examined containers could be released directly from the CEF, a lengthy analysis conducted by CBSA indicated that this would not be possible under the Agency’s current legislative constraints.  Consequently, the pilot project that is now under consideration would apply only to non-consolidated marine containers (i.e. containers consisting of a single shipment without a freight forwarder involved), which would be authorized to move from the CEF to a bonded rail or intermodal yard for onward delivery (whether local or further inland).

The next steps in implementing the pilot, which is likely to be located at the Tsawwassen container examination facility at the Port of Vancouver, are to fully map out the responsibilities of the various parties involved in this process (from CBSA, to the MCEF operator, to the marine carrier, to the operator of the rail or intermodal yard), and establish performance metrics to help assess outcomes and make adjustments to the pilot going forward.

The Federation is involved in the development of this pilot as a member of CBSA’s Maritime Working Group and will provide members with updates as the project progresses.

Memorandum D3-5-1 Amendments

Further to CL 11393, we are still awaiting publication of an amended version of Memorandum D3-5-1 (Marine Pre-Load / Pre-Arrival and Reporting Requirements) clarifying reporting requirements and timeframes for vessels that proceed to an anchorage in order to await a berth.  More specifically, CBSA has indicated that D3-5-1 will be amended to include the following additional wording:

A6 Reporting Requirements for Vessels at Anchor

  • A vessel required to wait at an anchoring point due to port congestion or boarding of surveyors / testers, may do so without providing an A6 General Declaration inward / outward to CBSA, or sending a CACM, for a period of no longer than forty-five (45) days as long as the vessel is not docking, berthing or conducting any commercial activities at a CBSA port, and that no crew is disembarking while at anchor.

Although CBSA has not provided a specific date on which the amended version of the memorandum will be published, they have assured us that all of their local offices are aware of the above and that vessels at anchor are free to implement this option at any time.

Timing of CACM Submission

Further to requests from several members, we have re-engaged in discussions with CBSA on the need for a two-hour, post-arrival window for submission of the conveyance arrival certification message (CACM).  Such a window would provide carriers with additional flexibility in the timing of their CACM submissions, especially in cases where the arrival is triggered by a notification from the terminal to the carrier that the vessel has actually berthed (i.e. post-arrival). This would also complement the two-hour, pre-arrival reporting window that has been in effect since the CACM was first introduced, which helps carriers minimize delays in the commencement of cargo operations immediately upon the vessel’s arrival at the berth.

Discussions on the implementation of a post-arrival window are ongoing, and we will provide members with additional information as available.


CBSA continues to work on the implementation of its CARM system, which is a government of Canada initiative designed to fully automate the Agency’s accounting and revenue management processes for the importation of commercial goods.  The new system will be mandatory for any entity involved in importing commercial goods into Canada, including marine carriers or agents who import goods such as a ships’ spares or equipment on behalf of their principals.

Once the new system becomes fully functional in the first half of 2023, any entity acting as an importer will be required to register in the CARM client portal, delegate access to other parties as required, and obtain a surety bond in order to conduct business with CBSA.  In addition, all duties and taxes will have to be paid directly to CBSA by the importer of record via the CARM portal on a monthly basis.

The Federation is attending a training session on the various uses and functionalities of the CARM system later this month, and will provide members with additional information thereafter.

Electronic House Bills

Full implementation of CBSA’s electronic house bill (eHBL) requirement, including the possibility of incurring monetary AMPs (penalties) for cases of non-compliance, began as of January 31, 2022.  This followed a 13-month transitional period, during which CBSA made significant efforts to reach out to the freight forwarding community in order to increase awareness and uptake of the new requirements. CBSA reports that these efforts have been generally successful, and barring a handful of technical and reporting irritants that still need to be resolved, the transition to an eHBL environment appears to be on solid ground.

As a reminder, eHBLs replace the ACI supplementary information that freight forwarders or their service providers must submit to CBSA for consoldiated import and in-transit shipments (with FROB cargoes remaining exempt from the eHBL requirement).

Cruise Issues

Although the long-awaited resumption of cruise activity in Canadian waters has generally proceeded in an efficient manner, CBSA recently implemented major changes to its longtanding policy of allowing cruise vessels to make FPOA (first port of arrival) stops at small, non-designated ports on a cost recovery basis. CBSA’s withdrawal of service at such ports occurred without any advance consultation or discussion with industry, thereby causing sigificant disurptions to long-established cruise ship schedules, and causing serious problems for local communities that were preparing to welcome visitors and tourist dollars after two years of the pandemic.  The Federation is working on this issue on behalf of its members who are involved in cruise activity, and is in contact with both CBSA and Transport Canada to discuss options going forward.

Compliance Figures

Officials from CBSA’s compliance team attended the most recent meeting of our Customs Committee, at which they shared the following compliance statistics for the marine mode, for the period beginning May 1, 2021 and ending April 30, 2022:

  •  287 compliance cases overall, of which:
    • 145 (51%) resulted in outreach
    • 142 (49%) resulted in AMPs being issued
  • Most common areas of non-compliance for marine carriers:
    • Penalty 378 – Failure to submit advance commercial information (ACI)
    • Penalty 382 – Failure to submit true, accurate and complete information
    • Penalty 384 – Failure to submit advance information in the prescribed time or prescribed manner (zero-rated)

CBSA also noted that its policy is to always contact the carrier to discuss any case of non-compliance, with a view to avoiding the need to impose penalties to the extent possible.

Customs Committee

The Federation’s Customs Committee normally meets four times a year to discuss developing issues and benefit from the opportunity to engage directly with CBSA on specific topics.  The Committee’s next meeting will be held in mid-July (date to be confirmed).  New members are always welcome, and anyone who is interested in either joining the Committee or being added to its distribution list should contact the undersigned.


Karen Kancens
Vice President