ARCHIVED - BSF5071 - When the Canada Border Services Agency Gives You a Warning

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Catalogue No. PS38-32/2014E-PDF
ISBN 978-0-660-02142-3

You may have some questions about the warning you just received. Here are answers to the questions people most often ask after they've been given a warning by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

What does a "warning" mean?

Since this is your first violation, and it does not involve dangerous or prohibited goods, the border services officer has only given you a warning about importing goods illegally. The officer told you what you did to break the law and asked you to either pay the duty and taxes you owe or to forfeit your goods.

Does the CBSA keep records of warnings?

Yes. The CBSA enters your information into its computer system. When people cross the border, the CBSA conducts a search of this system and if it finds that you have received a warning in the past, there's a greater chance that:

  • your goods will be inspected; and
  • more serious action such as seizure of your goods and criminal prosecution will be taken if you have improperly declared goods again.

How long does the CBSA keep my record?

The CBSA keeps records of warnings for up to two years. These records help us enforce customs laws and regulations.

After two years, your record will automatically be deleted if you haven't had any more violations.

Is this a criminal record?

No. To have a criminal record means you must have been prosecuted and convicted of a crime. You have not been convicted of a crime when you receive a warning from the CBSA.

Can I dispute this warning?

Yes. If you disagree with your warning, you can dispute it in either of two ways:

  • Speak to the superintendent at the CBSA office where the warning was issued. The superintendent will review your case with you and the border services officer, and he or she will decide whether to keep or cancel the warning. If your warning is cancelled, all records of it will be eliminated; or
  • Write to the CBSA at the address listed on the last page of this brochure and ask that your case be reviewed. Be sure to send your letter within 30 days of the incident. Clearly outline what happened and why you disagree with the warning.

Additional information

For more information within Canada, call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999. From outside Canada, call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long distance charges will apply). Agents are available Monday to Friday (08:00-16:00 local time/except holidays). TTY is also available within Canada at 1-866-335-3237.

You may obtain further information by consulting the publications (Guides and Brochures) available on the CBSA Web site at

The border services officer that gives the warning will also give this publication.

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