What you need to know about Customs Controlled Areas

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Catalogue No. PS38-59/2016E-PDF
ISBN 978-0-660-04561-0

What is a Customs Controlled Area?

A Customs Controlled Area (CCA) is a designated area where there is a likelihood that domestic employees or domestic origin travellers leaving Canada will come into contact with international travellers and/or international goods that have not been processed or released (as the case may be) by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA has implemented CCAs within some of its designated ports of entry. Posted signs indicate where these areas are.

What is the purpose of a CCA?

CCAs are intended to enhance safety and operational effectiveness at ports of entry by addressing the potential for employees to misuse their positions to engage in criminal activity when in contact with international travellers and/or goods not yet cleared by the CBSA.

How will I know when I am in a CCA?

Signs and notices are posted at entry points and within CCAs. They inform travellers and employees that they are in a CCA and explain their obligations while in or exiting these designated areas.

What are the obligations of a traveller or employee in a CCA?

At the request of a CBSA officer, any traveller or employee within or exiting a CCA is required to identify themselves, truthfully answer questions asked by the officer, and present goods for examination.

What authorities do CBSA officers have in CCAs?

CBSA officers have the authority to examine goods and to question and search individuals who are within or exiting a CCA. This includes employees who would otherwise not have to present themselves to the CBSA. In accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, CBSA officers must always have reasonable grounds to carry out further examination of goods or searches of individuals.

How do CCAs affect the rights and freedoms of travellers and employees?

In accordance with CCA Regulations, heightened privacy requirements are in effect which will help safeguard a person's rights and freedoms. The grounds for CBSA officers to examine goods and search persons in a CCA need to meet higher thresholds than the grounds for the examination of goods and the search of persons crossing the border. The presence of CCAs will not interfere with the day-to-day activities and business of travellers and employees within these designated areas.

How will the CBSA continue to respect travellers' and employees’ rights?

The rights of travellers and employees are a high priority for the CBSA. The Agency has worked closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to identify and mitigate privacy concerns before implementing CCAs, and will continue to do so after implementation.

Travellers and employees in CCAs are protected under the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, all CBSA employees are subject to strict standards of conduct to uphold the CBSA values of integrity, respect and professionalism. Any employee who abuses his/her authority or violates these standards may be subject to disciplinary action.

What kind of complaint or recourse mechanism is available?

A publicly accessible complaint/recourse mechanism is in place for use by individuals who may not agree with a decision taken by a CBSA employee. All individuals are entitled to a fair and impartial review of decisions and actions taken by the CBSA.

Information on the CBSA's recourse process and CCA designations can be found on the Agency's website.

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