BSF5146 - What to Expect: Secondary Services and Inspections

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Catalogue No. PS38-58/2014E-PDF
ISBN 978-0-660-02138-6

The CBSA is Canada's border services agency. We work to ensure Canada's security and prosperity by managing the access of people and goods to Canada.

At any point during your interactions with our officers at a port of entry, you may be referred to our Secondary Services and Inspections area.

We understand that travellers may feel anxious when crossing the border and want you to know that secondary referrals should not be viewed as an indication of wrongdoing. They are a normal part of the cross-border travel process, which any returning resident or visitor to Canada may experience.

Why you may be referred for Secondary Services or Inspection

You may be referred for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:

Our officers are subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Referrals are not made on any discriminatory basis, such as race, nationality, religion, age or gender.

Our commitment to you

What to expect

If you are referred for Secondary Services or Inspection, an officer may:

While the majority of travellers we inspect are in compliance with Canadian laws and regulations, we do encounter individuals who are intent on breaking the law and attempt to avoid detection. For this reason, the officer may not always answer specific questions regarding a Secondary Inspection.

What we ask of you

You are obligated by Canadian law to present yourself to an officer, respond truthfully to all questions, accurately report your goods, and, if requested, present your goods for examination, which may include unpacking and repacking the contents of your luggage or vehicle.

Your cooperation and patience is appreciated while you wait and we conduct our duties. To help us get you on your way as quickly as possible, we ask that you:

Our authorities

We administer more than 90 acts, regulations and international agreements, many on behalf of other federal departments and agencies, the provinces and the territories, including the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Customs Act, and food, plant and animal regulations.

Our officers are authorized by these laws and regulations to conduct Secondary Inspections, including the inspection of travellers and goods, at Canadian ports of entry. While we appreciate that in some cases Secondary Inspection may appear intrusive, it enables us to ensure compliance with Canada's customs, immigration, and food, plant and animal laws and regulations.

Client service improvement

Your feedback is important to us. It has a direct influence on the development and review of our policies and programs.

If you have questions, would like clarification, or have feedback about the service you received, please ask to speak with the supervisor on duty before leaving our service area.

You can also submit your comment, complaint, or compliment in writing by

For more information on our programs and services, please visit our Web site at, or contact the Border Information Service from within Canada at 1-800-461-9999 (toll-free). From outside of Canada, call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long distance charges may apply). Should you require more in-depth information related to a topic, you can speak directly to an officer during regular business hours, Monday to Friday (08:00 - 16:00 local time, except holidays). TTY (for people with hearing or speech impairments) is also available within Canada at 1-866-335-3237.

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