Examining Your Shipment

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You may not experience this step in the import process because the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not examine all shipments before releasing them. However, under the Customs Act, the CBSA has the authority to select shipments for examination to verify that they are compliant or to take samples in reasonable amounts. The frequency of examinations will depend on your compliance record and on that of other persons/organizations involved with the shipment, as well as on the type of goods you are importing.

Why does the CBSA examine goods?

The CBSA may choose to examine your shipment for several reasons:

Resealing policy

The CBSA's resealing policy came into effect on October 15, 2008, to establish uniformity in the resealing of containerized cargo after a CBSA examination and to preserve the integrity of containerized cargo after a CBSA examination has been completed.

The policy applies to containerized cargo that arrives, departs or transits Canada by all modes of transportation and that is opened by a border services officer for a CBSA examination.

Cargo that arrives by land includes trailers, containers and rail cars. Containerized cargo includes cargo shipped in an enclosed container or trailer to which border services officers can affix a seal. The resealing policy does not apply to empty containers.

After border services officers complete their examination, they will affix a high-security bolt seal to the container. This high-security seal complies with the International Organization for Standardization Publicly Available Specification (ISO/PAS) 17712 and will be marked with the letters "CBSA-ASFC" and have a unique numeric serial number.

Before resealing an examined container, border services officers will place any removed seal(s) inside the examined container or trailer.

If a carrier chooses to fasten an additional seal, the high-security seal installed by the CBSA must not be removed, replaced or manipulated in any way.

Border services officers will notify the appropriate contact (carrier, broker or importer) when a container has been examined and provide the number of the container and the serial number of the newly installed high-security bolt seal before the container arrives at the receiving facility. Depending on the circumstances, this notification may be done by fax or telephone, by annotating the shipping/bill of lading or other transportation document, or by another mutually agreed-upon method.

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