Commercial procedures during scheduled and unscheduled outages
System Outage Contingency Plan
June 2020

Table of contents

1. Introduction

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) System Outage Contingency Plan sets out the procedures for the importation and exportation 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 Section 4.0: Appendix A 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.

For ease of navigation, we identified which sections pertain to importation and those that pertain to exportation:

Importation and exportation sections
Section Importation Exportation
1.0 Introduction yes yes
1.1 Invocation and reocation of Contingency Plans yes yes
1.2 Communications protocol during outages yes yes
1.3 External partner outages yes yes
2.1 Key principles yes yes
2.2 CBSA outage procedures overview yes yes
2.3 Carrier pre-arrival and import reporting procedures yes no
2.3.1 Inland movement yes no
2.3.2 Highway yes no
2.3.3 Rail yes no
2.3.4 Air yes no
2.3.5 Marine yes no
2.4 Export reporting procedures no yes
2.4.1 All modes no yes
2.5 Import deconsolidation yes no
2.6 Import release yes no
2.6.1 Highway FPOA release yes no
2.6.2 Determining release status during an EDI outage yes no
2.6.3 Acceptable proof of release during an outage yes no
2.7 Import warehouses yes no
3.0 Post-outage procedures yes yes
3.1 Post-outage message transmission yes no
3.2 Late accounting penalties yes no
4.0 Appendixes yes yes
4.1 Types of outages yes yes
4.2 Multiple shipment release query form yes no
4.2.1 Directives: Multiple Import Shipment Release Query yes no

1.1 Invocation and revocation of contingency plans

The CBSA alone will invoke and revoke the contingency procedures for the eManifest Portal, Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) Portal, Single Window Initiative (SWI) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) through the issuance of bulletins by email. Contingency messages for scheduled outages may also be published under the Bulletins Tab in both Portals.

E-mail bulletins are issued in advance of scheduled outages and to communicate system statuses during unscheduled outages. System status updates will be provided at least every 4 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: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/eservices/menu-eng.html#tab6_2.

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 or option 2 for eManifest, Trusted Trader or CERS portal.

The hotline provides a recorded message for external partners* describing 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 4 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. Until that message is posted to the hotline, external partners should assume that the outage is still ongoing.

Live support is provided during regular business hours (8:00 to 17:00 Eastern Time), to clients currently using or seeking to use EDI, the eManifest portal or the CERS portal. After hours emergency support is available through a call back service from 17:00 to 8:00 Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, weekends and on holidays.

A table outlining the services provided by TCCU during business hours and after business hours on an emergency basis can be found at the following link: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/eservices/services-eng.html.

*External partners: All external clients who do business with the CBSA through EDI, the eManifest Portal and the CERS Portal.

1.3 External partner outages

External partners will inform TCCU by telephone (refer to 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 4 hours.

External partners will inform TCCU of scheduled outages at least 24 hours in advance and provide status updates every 4 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 electronically 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 their trade documents via an alternate method of electronic communication will transmit their trade documents within 24 hours of the system functionality being restored; trade documents include cargo, conveyance, house bills and export declarations and will be reported using the actual date and time of release for imports or the date and time of departure from the export reporting office closest to the place of exit of the goods for exports
  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 using this transmission method will receive an electronic message and/or release notification
  5. External partners must transmit data to the CBSA at least 2 hours 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 trade documents related infractions that occur during a scheduled or an unscheduled outage and for the 2hours following system resumption
  7. External partners will submit 2 copies, for both import and export declarations, of the completed paper documentation required before receiving an authorization to move or release for importations or proceeding with an exportation
    1. For goods destined for import:
      CBSA will stamp both copies of the paper documentation, returning 1 copy and retaining the other 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
    2. For goods destined for export:
      a BSO at the export reporting office, will stamp each copy of the Exporter Contingency form
  8. BSOs may request more information and/or refer any shipment to the secondary inspection area
  9. 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
    3. the indication that the responsibility is now with the customs broker/importer to provide interim release data
  10. A stamped copy of the Exporter Contingency Form indicates that a carrier is permitted to export the associated goods. However, the reporting requirements related to section 95 (1) of the Customs Act have not been met and responsibility remains with the exporter to report their goods to the CBSA once the system outage is resolved.
  11. External partners will retain all stamped paper documents presented during the outage as proof that all goods have been either reported by the importer or exporter and released, moved in-bond or exported
  12. Regardless of the outage condition, Other Government Departments’ (OGDs) requirements must be met either prior to release or prior to export
  13. The Agency does not consider the presentation of the 14-digit transaction number to be proof that Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or OGD requirements have been met.

2.2 CBSA outage procedures overview

Important note: No monetary penalties will be administered during a scheduled or unscheduled system outage, including the 2 hours following system recovery.

Pre-outage

Import
eManifest Portal:
  1. Submit electronic data 2 hours prior to scheduled outages
Electronic data interchange (EDI):
  1. Submit electronic data 2 hours prior to scheduled outages
Export
Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) Portal:
  1. Submit electronic data 2 hours prior to scheduled outages
G7 EDI:
  1. Submit electronic data 2 hours prior to scheduled outages

During an outage

Import
eManifest Portal:
  1. If the Portal allows it, submit your electronic data during an outage
  2. Complete the applicable contingency paper forms and print 2 copies
  3. If applicable, ensure to complete documentation required by other government departments (OGDs)
  4. Present the contingency forms at the Port of Report:
    • If released, the Border Services Officer will stamp both copies
    • If moving in-bond, the BSO will stamp the reverse sides
  5. Upon paper form presentation, more information or a referral to secondary may be requested

Note: Retain the copies of your stamped contingency forms.

EDI:
  1. If EDI allows it, submit your electronic data during an outage
  2. Complete the applicable contingency paper forms and print 2 copies
  3. If applicable, ensure to complete documentation required by other government departments (OGDs)
  4. Present the contingency forms at the Port of Report:
    • If released, the BSO will stamp both copies
    • If moving in-bond, the BSO will stamp the reverse sides
  5. Upon paper form presentation, more information or a referral to secondary may be requested

Note: Retain the copies of your stamped Contingency forms.

Export
CERS Portal:
  1. If the Portal allows it, submit your electronic data during an outage
  2. Complete the Exporter Contingency form and print 2 copies
  3. If applicable, ensure to complete documentation required by other government departments (OGDs)
  4. Present the contingency forms at the Export Reporting Office:
    • If the export can proceed, the BSO will stamp both copies
  5. Upon paper form presentation, more information or a referral to secondary may be requested

Note: Retain the copies of your stamped Contingency forms.

G7 EDI:
  1. If EDI allows it, submit your electronic data during an outage
  2. Complete the Exporter Contingency form and print 2 copies
  3. If applicable, ensure to complete documentation required by other government departments (OGDs)
  4. Present the contingency forms at the Export Reporting Office:
    • If the export can proceed, the BSO will stamp both copies
  5. Upon paper form presentation, more information or a referral to secondary may be requested

Note: Retain the copies of your stamped Contingency forms.

Post-outage

Import
eManifest Portal:
  1. Paper contingency forms will be accepted up until 2 hours following a system outage
  2. If no electronic information was submitted before or during an outage, users have 24 hours, starting when the Portal is available again, to submit their electronic declarations
EDI:
  1. Paper contingency forms will be accepted up until 2 hours following a system outage
  2. If no electronic information was submitted before or during an outage, users have 24 hours, starting when EDI is available again, to submit their electronic declarations
  3. Any electronic declarations submitted during an outage will receive an electronic message and/or release notification once the documentation and release request have been processed
Export
CERS Portal:
  1. Paper contingency forms will be accepted up until 2 hours following a system outage
  2. If no electronic information was submitted before or during an outage, users have 24 hours, starting when the Portal is available again, to submit their electronic declarations
G7 EDI:
  1. Paper contingency forms will be accepted up until 2 hours following a system outage
  2. If no electronic information was submitted before or during an outage, users have 24 hours, starting when G7 EDI is available again, to submit their electronic declarations
  3. Any electronic declarations submitted during an outage will receive an electronic message and/or release notification once the documentation and release request have been processed
CBSA Outage Procedures Overview table (Word, 15KB)

2.3 Carrier pre-arrival and import 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:

  1. Memorandum D3-2-1, Air Pre-arrival and Reporting Requirements
  2. Memorandum D3-4-2, Highway Pre-arrival and Reporting Requirements
  3. Memorandum D3-5-1, Marine Pre-load/Pre-arrival and Reporting Requirements
  4. Memorandum D3-6-6, Rail Pre-arrival and Reporting Requirements

2.3.1 Inland movement

Bonded carriers may make arrangements with the CBSA to have the goods transported in-bond to an inland sufferance warehouse. The BSO first determines if goods are admissible prior to authorizing any shipment to move in-bond. It is the carrier’s responsibility to notify the customs broker/importer of the change to the release office and sub-location code where the goods are to be moved.

2.3.2 Highway

During an outage, carriers must fulfill their legislative obligation to report goods to the CBSA by presenting 2 copies of a CCD, or equivalent (stack manifest, PARS bar codes, print out of ACI EDI cargo transmittal), to the applicable CBSA office.

Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) highway carriers submit a lead sheet with the CSA service option, the carrier code and the importer business number. The driver must also present a valid driver’s Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP)/Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card.

The BSO reviews the documentation and makes a ‘release’, ‘authorize to move’, or ‘authorize to deliver’ decision for each shipment.

2.3.3 Rail

Rail carriers are to submit a Form A1 Train Report Inward to the nearest FPOA to where the train crosses, ensuring that there is a Cargo Control Number (CCN) indicated for each shipment.

All unreleased rail cargo moves inland (refer to section 2.3.1) and is held until notification from the CBSA.

2.3.4 Air

Air carriers are to present the flight number or Conveyance Reference Number (CRN) on paper for proof of report/arrival for conveyances.

CSA air carriers to present a print out of air CSA data elements (Service Option 521) to CBSA for stamping as proof of report and authorization to deliver.

2.3.5 Marine

Carrier to submit 2 copies of the Form A6 General Declaration and the Form A6A Freight/Cargo Manifest to the CBSA office at the FPOA.

2.4 Export reporting procedures

In the event of an outage of the CERS Portal or G7 EDI reporting method, exporters and customs service providers (CSPs) who need to report to the CBSA must use a paper method.

For further information on reporting procedural requirements for exports refer to:

  1. Memorandum D20-1-1, Exporter Reporting
  2. Memorandum D3-1-8, Cargo: Export Movements

2.4.1 All modes

During a CERS Portal or G7 EDI systems outage, exporters or CSPs must fulfill their legislative obligation to report, to the CBSA, goods destined for export by presenting 2 identical copies of the Exporter contingency form, to the export reporting office that is closest to the place of exit of the goods. The BSO will assess the documentation and stamp both copies using a date/time stamp if no examination is required.

After submitting an Exporter contingency form, the exporter must provide the generic code: "ECD” to the exporting carrier. If the exporting carrier has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CBSA they must enter this generic code: "ECD” on the associated waybill submission or in the Associated Transport Document Number field on the associated electronic cargo control document (for marine mode).

For procedures to follow once the system functionalities resume, refer to Section 3: Post-outage procedures.

2.5 Import deconsolidation

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

2.6 Import 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 (refer to 2.7).

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

2.6.1 Highway FPOA release

In order to avoid significant border wait times at highway entry points as a result of CBSA systems outages, a streamlined release process is available for highway shipments clearing at the FPOA. This process is available only for highway clearances at the FPOA during CBSA systems outages.

For release of highway shipments at the FPOA the carrier will present 2 copies of the CCD, or equivalent (in other words, stack manifest (if approved), PARS bar codes, print out of ACI EDI cargo transmittal), and lead sheet indicating "System Outage" plus any OGD permits, as required.
A 14-digit transaction number is required for each shipment that is being cleared at the border. This number is obtained from the customs broker/importer. It is preferable that the transaction number be barcoded, however during a system outage, the CBSA will accept handwritten transaction numbers.

Presentation of a transaction number for the purposes of obtaining release of the goods during a CBSA system outage is a commitment from the customs broker /importer to provide interim accounting or final accounting documentation after the system is restored and within the timeframes set out in Memorandum D17-1-5: Registration, Accounting and Payment for Commercial Goods.

2.6.2 Determining release status during an EDI outage

The Accelerated Commercial Release Operations Support System (ACROSS) must be operational in order for the options below to be used and release requests must already be transmitted to the CBSA for processing prior to the system outage.

Option 1: Cargo control document

The client will present the paper CCD for the shipment, with a CBSA machine readable barcoded CCN or Transaction Number, at a CBSA office and indicate that they would like to know the release status. The BSO will verify the status in ACROSS. In the event it is released, the BSO will release-stamp the CCD and return it to the client as proof of release.

Option 2: Multiple Shipment Release Query form

In order to streamline the querying of multiple shipments, the Multiple Shipment Release Query form (refer to section 4.2) may be used. The form may be modified by clients as long as the barcoded data remains CBSA machine readable.

This form is to be submitted to the CBSA office of release. The original CBSA stamped copy will be returned to the client.

2.6.3 Acceptable proof of release during an outage

Acceptable proof of release includes a CBSA release-stamped CCD, Multiple Shipment Release Query form, or printed and stamped Release Notification System (RNS) message. Proof of release is acceptable in original or faxed form as long as the CBSA stamp is clearly visible.

2.7 Import warehouses

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

The warehouse operator will receive the paper CCD or equivalent from carrier to place goods in the warehouse.

Upon receiving acceptable proof of release (refer to 2.7) 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 import and export 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.

Important note: Delays or omitting to submit electronic trade documents past the 24 hour timeframe following a systems outage may result in monetary penalties for both imports and exports.

Import 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 for importations

Import 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.

Post-outage message transmission for importations
  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 and conveyance.
Conveyance arrival There is no EDI highway arrival. EDI conveyance arrival must be transmitted once all related cargo and 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:

For all outages under 4 hours, customs brokers and importers are required to submit applications for waiver/cancellation to the Recourse Directorate (Fax: 343-291-7239 or email: cbsa.external_appeals-appels_externes.asfc@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.

For CBSA outages over 4 hours, Recourse Directorate will proactively waive late accounting penalties. TCCU will communicate the Recourse broadcast message regarding the proactive waiver within 1 business day of the outage.

For Direct Connect, Value Added Network (VAN) or Customs Internet Gateway (CIG) outages over 4 hours, customs brokers and importers are required to submit applications for waiver/cancellation to the Recourse Directorate (Fax: 343-291-7239 or email: cbsa.external_appeals-appels_externes.asfc@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.

For CBSA outages of over a day, CBSA will extend the accounting time limit from 5 days to a period which includes the length of the outage. The late accounting penalty will not be assessed.

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, Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) portal and CBSA internal systems are not functioning. For EDI and eManifest Portal users, this outage type does not impact their ability to transmit data to CBSA, the data can be received and queued until the systems are back. For CERS Portal users, they may only transmit data once the CBSA systems resume their functions.

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 to 60 minutes behind in processing incoming/outgoing messages.

Delays in processing: eManifest 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 to 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.

Full CERS portal outage (inbound and/or outbound) means that the CERS portal is not operational and unavailable for use. An inbound portal outage means that users are not able to submit trade documents to the CBSA through the CERS portal. An outbound portal outage means that the CBSA is not able to retrieve data submitted within the CERS portal.

4.2 Multiple Import Shipment Release Query form

Multiple Import Shipment Release Query form (PDF, 61 KB)
[Help with PDF files]

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

Multiple Import Shipment Release Query form
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 and BSO badge number

4.2.1 Directives: Multiple Import Shipment Release Query 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

Clients
CBSA

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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