Commercial Procedures During Scheduled & Unscheduled Outages
System Outage Contingency Plan
November 2017

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Table of contents

1. Introduction

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) System Outage Contingency Plan sets out the procedures for the importation of commercial goods in all modes of transportation during a CBSA systems outage.

An outage is defined as a “temporary suspension of operations to the electronic systems". Please refer to the Appendixes in Section 4 for a description of various types of outages and scopes/impacts.

It is important to note that the procedures outlined in Section 2 apply only in the case of CBSA outages.

1.1 Invocation and Revocation of Contingency Plan

The CBSA alone will invoke and revoke the contingency procedures through the issuance of bulletins by email.

Bulletins are issued in advance of scheduled outages and to communicate system status during unscheduled outages. System status updates will be provided at least every four hours during regular business hours. Messages will not be updated after regular business hours unless the outage is resolved. External partners should make the assumption that the outage is still ongoing unless a "resolved" message has been provided.

The Technical Commercial Client Unit (TCCU) of the CBSA sends these bulletins via e-mail to external partners. If you would like to receive these bulletins, you can register with the TCCU at the following link:

The CBSA regional operations will continue to receive information about system outages through email notifications and other methods, as required.

1.2 Communications protocol during outages

The CBSA provides a "hotline" to assist external partners with technical issues or problems relating to the exchange of data with the CBSA. The telephone number for the hotline is 1-888-957-7224 from within Canada and the United States and +1-613-946-0762 from overseas. Select option 1 for EDI transactions.

This support is provided during regular business hours (8:00 to 17:00 ET), to clients currently using or seeking to use EDI or the eManifest portal.  After hours emergency support is available through a call back service from 17:00 to 8:00 ET, Monday through Friday, weekends and on holidays.  External partners are required to leave a detailed voice mail message and an officer will return the call.

The hotline is also used to provide information to external partners such as the status of CBSA systems in the event that there is an outage. The CBSA ensures that the hotline is updated immediately after a systems outage and/or backlog has been reported and is regularly updated throughout the outage period. Regular updates will be provided every four hours during regular business hours until the outage has been resolved. Messages will not be updated after hours until the outage is resolved or until regular business hours resume

Hotline messages will revert back to 'all systems are functioning normally' as soon as CBSA's technical support teams are notified that the outage has been resolved.

1.3 External Partner Outages

External partners will inform TCCU by telephone (see section 1.2) of unscheduled outages of their systems as soon as possible once they are made aware of an unscheduled outage and keep the CBSA updated on the status of the outage every four hours.

External partners will inform TCCU of scheduled outages at least 24 hours in advance and provide status updates every four hours.

In case of an outage, full paper documentation must be presented. For example, paper Cargo Control Documents (CCDs) and full paper release requests.

2. Procedures during CBSA Outages

2.1 Key Principles

  1. External partners are required to transmit all trade documents, processed via the contingency plan, once the outage is resolved - thus the recommendation to continue transmission of electronic data for queuing and expediting the recovery process.
  2. External partners unable or that have opted not to transmit the ACI via an alternate method of electronic communication will transmit the ACI information within 24 hours once the system functionality is restored; ACI information includes cargo, conveyance, and house bills and will be reported using the actual date and time of release.
  3. Once the system outage is resolved, the CBSA will provide a buffer time period of 2 hours before resuming normal activities.
  4. After the outage, once the EDI documentation including release requests have been processed by the CBSA, external partners will receive an electronic message and/or release notification.
  5. External partners must transmit data to the CBSA at least 120 minutes prior to the start time of any scheduled outage to ensure that pre-arrival transmission timelines are met for shipments expected to arrive at the border during the outage.
  6. No monetary penalties will be issued to external partners for ACI related infractions that occur during a scheduled or an unscheduled outage and for the two hours following system resumption.
  7. External partners will submit two copies of the complete paper documentation required before receiving their authorization to move or release.
  8. CBSA will stamp both copies of paper documentation, return one copy and retain one copy for post-resumption validation:
    1. Where the goods are released, the Border Services Officer (BSO) stamps each copy of the documentation.
    2. Where goods have been authorized to move in-bond, the BSO stamps the reverse side of the CCD.
  9. BSOs may request more information and/or refer any shipment to the secondary inspection area.
  10. The stamped copy of the carrier documentation serves as proof of report that:
    1. the requirements of section 12(1) of the Customs Act have been satisfied;
    2. the authority for the carrier to deliver goods; and
    3. the indication that the responsibility is now with the customs broker/importer to provide interim release data.
  11. External partners will retain all stamped paper documents presented during the outage as proof that all goods have been reported by the carrier and released or moved in-bond.
  12. Regardless of the outage condition, Other Government Departments (OGDs) requirements must be met prior to release.
  13. The Agency does not consider the presentation of the 14-digit transaction number to be proof that CFIA or OGD requirements have been met.

2.2 Carrier Pre-Arrival and Reporting Procedures

Carriers will need to provide a paper copy of the CCD to the importer or their agent for release purposes or to the warehouse operator for inland movement.

For further information on pre-arrival and reporting procedural requirements for import, in bond, in-transit and Freight Remaining on Board cargo, refer to the Memoranda D3 Transportation series relating to the particular mode of transportation. These include:

2.3 Deconsolidation

During outage periods Freight Forwarders may perform deconsolidation by presenting paper house bills at the CBSA office where the goods are located.

2.4 Release

Customs brokers/importers may obtain release during outages by presenting paper release requests in person at the CBSA office where the goods are located except for highway release at FPOA (see 2.4.1).

As outlined in D17-1-4, paper release requests will be presented with an EDI Exception lead sheet with the “System Outage” box selected.

2.5 Warehouses

During outages licensed warehouses will ensure paper record keeping is used to record goods taken into and released from warehouses.

Receive the paper CCD or equivalent from carrier to place goods in the warehouse.

Upon receiving acceptable proof of release (see 2.4.3) the warehouse operator releases the shipment from their warehouse.

If the warehouse operator receives a “referred for exam” notice for a shipment that was previously manually released, the CBSA requests that, if the shipment is still in their warehouse, the warehouse operator holds the shipment for examination.

3. Post-Outage Procedures

Upon system resumption all clients must electronically submit (within 24 business hours) all trade documents and notifications for shipments processed during the contingency period and correct any electronic messaging errors or rejects.

For shipments that were released on paper during an outage, customs brokers may use a Pre-Arrival Release System (PARS) service option when transmitting the release data when the system is functioning again.

3.1 Post-Outage Message Transmission

Clients must ensure all messages transmitted to the CBSA after an outage are submitted in the order listed below, in order to avoid receiving error or reject messages.

  Highway Rail Air Marine
Cargo Must be transmitted/captured in CBSA system before the conveyance is transmitted/captured. No specific order in which cargo and conveyance must be transmitted/captured.
Conveyance Must be transmitted once all related cargo are captured in CBSA system.
Must be transmitted/captured in CBSA system before close message is transmitted/captured.
No specific order in which cargo and conveyance must be transmitted/captured. Must be transmitted/captured in CBSA system before close message is transmitted/captured.
House Bills Must be transmitted/captured in our system before close message is transmitted/captured.
It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Close Must be transmitted/captured after all related house bills are transmitted/captured. It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Releases There is no order for releases to be transmitted, it can be transmitted/captured before or after cargo & conveyance.
Conveyance Arrival There is no EDI highway arrival. EDI conveyance arrival must be transmitted once all related cargo & releases have been transmitted/captured.
Cargo Arrival For inland cargo, the arrival should be transmitted last.

3.2 Late Accounting Penalties

Importers may be assessed late accounting penalties if accounting documents are not received within prescribed time limits. Relief may be granted in relation to delays caused by system outages, with the type and length of the outage determining how the relief will be processed:

Customs brokers/importers should submit a waiver application immediately after a prospective penalty is identified on the Daily Notice, rather than waiting until the Monthly Statement of Account is generated. This will ensure, whenever possible, that the penalty will not be assessed on the Monthly Statement of Account if it is eligible to be waived.

4. Appendixes

4.1 Types of Outages

An unscheduled outage means that a problem has created a situation that was not expected and has caused some type of outage or delay. As it was unexpected, research and analysis must be conducted to locate and resolve the problem. There will be no estimated time of resolution until the research and analysis is completed and the problem has been identified.

A scheduled CBSA system outage is a scheduled outage that occurs for maintenance or a systems release of new functionality or problem fixes. A time period for the outage is established and published for the trade community in advance of the outage. This information is provided to allow our clients time to plan around the outage. Scheduled outages are scheduled to take place in the early mornings on weekends which coincides with the lowest volume of transaction processing. This is done to minimize the impact of the outage on clients.

Full CBSA system outage means that all CBSA systems; EDI, eManifest portal and CBSA internal systems are not functioning. Please note this outage type does not impact the ability to transmit data to CBSA, the data can be received and queued until the systems are back.

Delays in Processing – EDI means that the CBSA has a backlog of electronic messages through EDI for processing. Delays in processing is considered an outage anytime the CBSA is running 30 – 60 minutes behind in processing incoming/outgoing messages.

Delays in Processing – Portal means that the CBSA has a backlog of electronic messages coming through the portal for processing.  A delay in processing is considered an outage anytime the CBSA is 30 – 60 minutes behind in processing incoming/outgoing messages or where response time is greater than 15 minutes.

Full EDI system outage means that the CBSA is not able to process any of the electronic messages being received or sent through EDI. However, it does not include the ability to transmit the data to CBSA, where it is received and queued until such time the EDI processing of the data is back online.


EDI inbound system outage means that CBSA is not able to receive any new inbound EDI messages from clients.

EDI outbound system outage means that the CBSA is not able to send messages to clients through EDI.

Full eManifest portal outage (inbound and/or outbound) means that the eManifest portal is not operational. An inbound portal outage means that the CBSA is not receiving information submitted through the eManifest portal. An outbound portal outage means that the CBSA is not able to post responses in the eManifest portal.

4.2 Multiple Shipment Release Query form

Release office: 453
Client name: Compliance Brokerage
Client ID: 12345
Client contact: John Doe 519 253 4584

Transaction number
or Cargo Control Number
Barcoded cargo control number OR transaction number
Must be CBSA machine readable
For CBSA use only
R = Released
NR = Not released
12345001495785 barcode 12345-001495785  
12345001495786 barcode 12345-001495786  
12345001495787 barcode 12345-001495787  
12345001495788 barcode 12345-001495788  
12345001495789 barcode 12345-001495788  

CBSA Stamp

4.3 Multiple Shipment Release Query form – instructions to appear on the back of the form

This form was introduced with the deployment of the CBSA Systems Outage Contingency.

The purpose of the form is to reduce the paper burden and streamline the querying of release statuses during outages that impact RNS notices. This form may be used when EDI linkages are down and ACROSS is operational. Note, the CBSA is unable to provide the status of release when ACROSS is not functional.

Usage of the form


When completed and stamped by the CBSA this form provides proof of release for only those transactions indicated as released per the above.

This form may be accepted by carriers and warehouse operators as proof of release in order to allow the movement of shipments during contingency periods. When systems resume release notices will be transmitted.

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