Customs Controlled Areas
Questions and Answers

What is a Customs Controlled Area?

A Customs Controlled Area (CCA) is a designated area where there is a likelihood that domestic workers and/or departing domestic origin travellers come into contact with international travellers and goods that have not yet been processed or released by the CBSA.

What is the difference between a CCA and a customs area?

The CBSA currently operates within assigned areas at ports of entry as legislated in the Customs Act (including customs offices and other facilities used for the purposes of processing internationally arriving goods or persons); these would be considered "customs areas".

Customs Controlled Areas are designated spaces within these areas where there is a likelihood that domestic workers and/or departing domestic origin travellers come into contact with international travellers and goods not yet cleared by the CBSA.

What is the purpose of a CCA?

CCAs are intended to help the CBSA manage risks posed by internal conspiracies, enhance operational effectiveness, and provide better protection to Canadian society and industry.

How will I know when I am in a CCA?

Signage and notices will be posted within and at entry points of CCAs and will inform travellers and workers that they are in a CCA and explain their obligations while in or exiting these areas.

Why were amendments to the Customs Act and its regulations required?

These legislative amendments were required to allow CBSA officers to question and search persons and examine goods within or when exiting a CCA. The CCA legislation permits Border Services Officers (BSO) to focus their efforts on higher risk persons and provides the CBSA with the flexibility it needs to practically and effectively carry out its mandate.

How do these amendments improve the security in Customs Controlled Areas?

These amendments provide BSOs with the legal authority to question and search people and examine goods, both within or when exiting CCAs. These authorities will address internal conspiracies at Canada's ports of entry and will help the CBSA to keep dangerous goods off our streets and out of the country.

At what locations will the CBSA be implementing CCAs?

The CBSA is beginning a three-phase implementation of CCAs at air, marine, rail and land ports of entry. The first phase will see CCAs implemented at Canada's international airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Phase two will include implementation at additional international airports, as well as major marine ports. The third phase of the implementation will designate CCAs at sufferance warehouses, rail, postal, and highway locations across the country.

How will implementation of CCAs affect the rights and freedoms of travellers and workers within their boundaries?

The CBSA values the principles defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The grounds for CBSA officers to examine domestic goods and search domestic persons in a CCA will need to meet higher thresholds than the grounds for the examination of international goods and the search of persons crossing the border. These heightened requirements, as outlined in the regulations, will help safeguard a person's rights and freedoms.

What kind of consultation has been completed to date for CCAs?

The CBSA has consulted extensively with internal stakeholders and other government departments, including Transport Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in the development of designation options.

The CBSA also engaged key external stakeholders, such as airport authorities, the Canadian Airport Council, port authorities, the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, Canada Post Corporation, and unions through the Canadian Labour Congress. The proposed CCA regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette Part I in November 2010, providing an opportunity for public engagement.

How will the CBSA monitor CCAs to ensure that they are serving their intended purpose?

The CBSA has established program goals and initiated a monitoring and evaluation regime associated with CCAs. A Performance Management Framework will be in place upon implementation of CCAs to ensure that all data related to performance is being collected in an accurate and timely manner. The evaluation process will measure performance via collection of data, documentation review and post-implementation consultations with stakeholders. CBSA Headquarters and regional resources will continue to be dedicated to the monitoring of the CCA program post-implementation.

The proposed regulations mention non-intrusive examination of goods, etc. Does this mean that individuals and/or their bags will be scanned?

CCA legislation allows for the examination of a person's goods to take place both within and when exiting a CCA. The regulations allow for the examination of goods without individualized suspicion (i.e. without requiring reasonable grounds to suspect) using non-intrusive tools such as scanners and x-rays. The authority to conduct a non-intrusive examination of goods does not include the authority to search an individual without individualized suspicion – reasonable grounds are always required to search an individual.

Why do CCA Regulations refer to a "strip search"?

The CCA Regulations refer to "strip searches" to differentiate between this type of search and the "frisk search" both of which are authorized under Section 99.2 of the Customs Act and Section 5 of the CCA Regulations.

Have stakeholders raised any concerns regarding CCAs since publication of the Regulations in Canada Gazette Part I?

Following pre-publication of CCA Regulations in Canada Gazette Part I, stakeholders have voiced concerns related to employees' rights to privacy and protection against unreasonable searches and seizure as afforded under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The CBSA responded to these stakeholders and will continue to address any concerns through public outreach by providing information and answering any questions that may arise. Stakeholder engagement has already been incorporated into post-implementation review plans.

If contraband is found on an individual in a CCA, what would happen to the goods and the individual?

In every instance, the goods are subject to seizure. Depending on the severity of the offence, the individual may or may not be arrested and may or may not be charged with an offence under the Customs Act or any other Act of Parliament.

How does the CBSA intend to consult businesses affected by the implementation of CCAs?

The CBSA has proactively developed a consultation strategy that takes into consideration the impact of CCAs on businesses operating within designated areas. The CBSA's goal is to minimize administrative and monetary impact whenever possible.

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