Presenting The Customs Enforcement Manual

15th Apr 2013 Comments Off on Presenting The Customs Enforcement Manual

The Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for the detection and prevention of border-related offences such as smuggling, fraud, and wilful non-compliance with immigration, trade, and tax law.  The CBSA Enforcement Manual, also known as the Customs Enforcement Manual, serves as the guide for CBSA officers in the execution of their enforcement related responsibilities.  It has been relied upon in several court challenges.

To the best of my knowledge, the CBSA Enforcement Manual is not publicly available.  However, we have obtained a copy of it through an Access to Information and Privacy Act request and have made it available for purchase on this blog.   The price for this document, which is a massive 1,274 pages, is $4.95.  Our goal in providing the CBSA Enforcement Manual is to help you save valuable research time, and to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how the CBSA operates.

We have provided as a free preview the first page of the CBSA Enforcement Manual.  We have also provided an outline of all of the information, policies, and guides which are found in it.

The Customs Enforcement Manual is divided into parts as outlined below.

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Wave Throughs at CBSA

2nd Apr 2013 Comments Off on Wave Throughs at CBSA

Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) officers at land border crossings are faced with an impossible task.  They have to interdict individuals who may be a public or health risk, process hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals and permanent residents who have assorted applications and immigration requirements which must be assessed, and collect taxes.  CBSA Officers have to do all of this while somehow maintaining a balance between ensuring compliance with the law and ensuring that wait times at the border are not unnecessarily long.  The failure to do either perfectly without disrupting the other will result in negative media scrutiny.

Of all of CBSA’s roles, it is perhaps the enforcement of Canada’s customs laws that is the most difficult to manage.  Memorandum R17-1-3, found in People Processing Manual Part 5: Accounting for Casual Importations: Chapter 11: Waiver Policy (the “People’ Processing Manual“), explains the conditions under which the CBSA may waive nominal assessments and accounting requirements on casual goods.  In brief, casual goods imported by an individual may be released without assessment when the federal duties and GST/HST owing (as well as any provincial taxes, excluding PST) do not exceed a threshold of $3.00.

The Manual contains the following useful example (paraphrased):

Children’s toys valued at CAN$40 are imported by a resident of Ontario through a CBSA office in Ontario.  The goods qualify under the United States Tariff.

The amount of duty is accordingly zero.  GST would be $2.00.

Because the amount of the federal duty is less than $3.00, the goods qualify under the wave-through policy, and the individual would not pay the duty.

Officers are only supposed to waive amounts higher than $3.00 in cases where the volume of collections would result in unacceptable delays, when interdiction activities are in progress,

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Understanding the Three Levels of Customs Infractions

20th Mar 2013 Comments Off on Understanding the Three Levels of Customs Infractions

When a person has goods (as distinguished from monetary instruments and conveyances  seized at customs, the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) has established three “levels” or “degrees” of breach for the purpose of determining the penalty.  These levels are described in Part 5 Chapter 2 of the Customs Enforcement Manual.

Level 1

Level 1 applies to violations of lesser culpability.  It will be applied where a person’s efforts to hide something from CBSA were initial and effectual.  It is generally applied to offences of omission rather than commission.

In the context of Non-Report and Inaccurate Information, Level 1 will be applied when:

  • goods are not reported to CBSA or goods are reported to CBSA but inaccurate information is given concerning acquisition, entitlements, or description;
  • the goods are not concealed; and
  • a full disclosure of the true facts concerning the goods is made at the time of discovery.

In the context of Undervaluation, Level 1 is applied when:

  • goods are reported for a value less than their actual transaction value but no falsified documents were presented; and
  • full disclosure is made prior to the discovery of documentary evidence.

Level 2

Level 2 applies to violations where the circumstances demonstrate that the individual actively attempted to breach Canadian customs law.  It is also applicable to people who repeatedly omit information.

In the context of Non-Report and Inaccurate Information, it will be applied when the circumstances are the same as for level 1, but in addition:

  • the goods are concealed or disguised; 
  • inaccurate information is given concerning the goods following their discovery; or
  • the person has been the subject of a previous seizure action.

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Appealing Customs Seizures

15th Dec 2010 Comments Off on Appealing Customs Seizures

In addition to immigration law, Larlee Rosenberg also represents individuals who have had goods seized by customs. Our practice includes both administrative appeals, as well as federal court actions

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