Repositioning of Empty Containers in Canadian Waters
Customs Notice 19-03


1. As part of Transportation 2030, the Government of Canada made changes to laws through the Transportation Modernization Act (Bill C-49) that will improve the transportation system. This included changes to the Coasting Trade Act.

2. With the passage of Bill C-49 on December 10, 2018, the Coasting Trade Act has been amended to allow vessels of any registry to reposition empty containers they own or are leasing, between locations in Canada (on a non-revenue basis) without the requirement of obtaining a coasting trade licence. This will help address the current shortage of containers available for export and may reduce costs for trade. These provisions are retroactive to this date.

3. Before they enter Canadian waters, vessels performing empty container repositioning are required to provide advance notification to Transport Canada three business days prior to the arrival of the vessel or to the vessel undertaking the activity of repositioning empty containers.

4. All vessels being imported into Canada, temporarily or otherwise, must be properly accounted for in accordance with the Custom Act, upon its arrival. A Form B3, Canada Customs Coding Form, is required to account for the duties and taxes on the vessel upon arrival in Canadian waters or when being diverted to another authority. Please indicate the special authority code provided in the CBSA letter of opinion in field 26 on the Form B3 the vessel name and file number (in the format : 7688-2-1/CCV-YR/##) is to be show in Field 22 of the Form B3.

5. In addition, importers or agents for vessels repositioning empty containers without a coasting trade licence that wish to apply for a duty reduction on a 1/120th basis are required to apply to the CBSA at at least three days prior to undertaking the activity.

6. A Form C47-1, Application for Duty Remission on a 1/120 Basis for Vessel Temporary Admission to the Coasting Trade Of Canada where a Coasting Trade Licence is Not Required, must be completed, signed and sent to the Commercial Registration Unit (CRU) at Documentary evidence, such as a copy of a contract or a letter of engagement that substantiates the vessel is contracted for the authorized activity, must accompany the application.

7. It is incumbent upon the vessel owner to provide the CBSA with sufficient evidence of the proposed activity with the application, including any correspondence received from Transport Canada in order to avoid delays in processing.

8. The CRU will issue a letter of opinion to either approve or deny the request for duty reduction. Where approved, it will also authorize the applicant to proceed to the CBSA office of importation to complete the process. Duty reduction approval is conditional on the vessel undertaking the coasting trade activities referred to in subsections 3(2.1) to (2.4) of the Coasting Trade Act.

9. The CBSA office of importation will issue a Form C48-1, Authorization for Vessel Temporary Admission to the Coasting Trade of Canada without a Coasting Trade Licence, upon provision of a copy of the letter of authorization and proof of payment of any applicable duties and taxes.

10. Vessels may be approved for periods up to 12 months. If additional time is required, it would be subject to reapplication and approval.

11. Canadian rates of duty on imported goods are set out in the Customs Tariff. For vessels providing services permitted under the Coasting Trade Act, duty reductions are calculated under the Vessel Duties Reduction or Removal Regulations.

12. For certainty regarding the tariff classification or origin of a vessel, importers may request an advance ruling.  Details on how to make such a request are found in Memoranda D11-11-3, Advance Rulings for Tariff Classification, and D11-4-16, Advance Rulings for Origin Under Free Trade Agreements. The CBSA also offers rulings on non-FTA origin and the valuation of goods. Refer to Memorandum D11-11-1, National Customs Rulings.

13. Marine Safety and Pollution Prevention Regulations – This change does not affect existing regulatory requirements that apply to foreign vessels operating in Canadian waters. Contact the Transport Canada marine transportation office in your region for more information.

14. Foreign Workers and Work Permits - Canada regulates the use of temporary foreign workers. This means that for immigration purposes, most foreign nationals entering Canada on a vessel as crew members engaging in the coasting trade need:

(a) a Labour Market Impact Assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada; and,

(b) a work permit.

15. For more information, please refer to the Web site concerning the International Mobility Program: Authorization to work without a work permit – Crew (

16. For assistance in determining whether a coasting trade licence is required, contact Transport Canada at

17. Questions on the status of your application may be directed to the CBSA at

18. For more information about the temporary admission of vessels to the coasting trade of Canada, consult Memorandum D3-5-7, Temporary Importation Vessels, which will be updated to reflect this policy change.

19. Any questions relating to this Customs Notice are to be sent to the CBSA at

20. For questions regarding CBSA programs, within Canada call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999. Press "0" to speak directly with an agent during regular business hours from Monday to Friday (08:00 to 16:00 local time except holidays). From outside Canada, call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064. Long distance charges will apply. TTY is also available within Canada at 1-866-335-3237.

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