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To transact business with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), carriers require a carrier code, regardless of how often they cross the Canadian border with commercial goods.
A carrier code is a four-character unique identifier that is assigned by the CBSA to identify a carrier. Only one carrier code is issued to each legal entity (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship) per mode of transport (highway, marine, air or rail).
For the purpose of assessing carrier code eligibility, a carrier is a person involved in international commercial transportation who operates a conveyance used to transport specified goods to or from Canada. To operate a conveyance means to have legal custody and control of the conveyance as:
- an owner,
- a lessee under a lease or agreement of hire,
- a charterer under an agreement of hire,
- as a purchaser under a conditional sale or hire purchase agreement that reserves to the vendor the title to the conveyance until the purchase price is paid or certain conditions are performed, or
- a mortgagor.
Specified goods means:
- commercial goods,
- empty cargo containers to be imported into Canada and that are not for sale, and
- any other goods to be transported to Canada for a fee.
Note: Specified goods does not include Hand Carried Goods (HCG) — goods being transported into Canada by a person other than a commercial carrier. Consult the HCG Process page for more information.
The CBSA also issues four-character unique codes to eligible freight forwarders. Only one freight forwarder code is issued to each legal entity (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship).
A freight forwarder is defined as an agent who arranges for the transportation of goods, and who may provide other services such as consolidation and deconsolidation of shipments, de-stuffing containers, customs brokerage and warehousing.
How to Apply
Detailed information on how to obtain a carrier or freight forwarder code is available at the following pages:
Important: The CBSA processes applications on a first come first serve basis. Rush service is not available.
Carrier Code Application
Service Description: This service allows for the application of a carrier code to establish identity and is required to conduct business with the CBSA.
Service Standard: The CBSA will strive to issue a carrier code to those who meet carrier code eligibility requirements within 3 business days upon receipt of all required information and supporting documentation.
Performance Target: 85%
Performance Result for fiscal year 2019 to 2020: The CBSA processed 1,961 applications and met the service standard 89.1% of the time.
For more information on all service standards and performance results for previous years, consult the CBSA Service Standards.
Changes to Information
Carriers and freight forwarders must advise the CBSA in writing without delay of any change to their legal entity, name, address and contact information.
Any changes to a bonded carrier or freight forwarder's financial security requires the submission of an original bond rider/endorsement, letter of reinstatement, notice of cancellation, or continuation certificate issued by the surety company or financial institution. Details are available in Customs Memorandum D1-7-1, Posting Security for Transacting Bonded Operations.
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