Shipping to Canada: Key supply chain and players’ roles

Shipping in to CanadaWhen shipping your goods internationally, there are many moving pieces. Knowing who is responsible for what and how the process works is crucial. Learn about the roles and responsibilities of the key players in the supply chain:

  • Exporter
  • Importer
  • Carrier
  • Customs broker
  • Canada Border Services Agency

Whether you’re new to shipping internationally or a seasoned importer/exporter, if you want to avoid running into problems at the border you need to know the key players in the shipping process, and their respective responsibilities. Here’s a brief overview:

The exporter

The exporter – that’s you. Also known as the shipper or the vendor, the exporter is traditionally responsible for shipping the goods. This includes preparing the required documentation that will be used throughout the shipping and importing process.

The carrier

The carrier is the freight company that transports the goods. They’re responsible for preparing a Cargo Control Document (CCD) – also known as a manifest, waybill or advice note – which is used to report the shipments to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The carrier submits the CCD to the customs broker, along with the shipping paperwork provided by the exporter. In the future, carriers will need to submit this information electronically to the CBSA.

The customs broker

Customs brokers are licensed by the Canadian government to carry out customs-related responsibilities on behalf of their clients, the importer of record.

Services provided by customs brokers include the following:

  • Shipment clearance through the CBSA: obtaining, preparing or transmitting the necessary customs release documents or data for the CBSA or Other Government Departments (OGDs).
  • Shipment accounting to the CBSA: calculating and paying duties and taxes on behalf of the importer as part of a full accounting package that is submitted to the Canadian government.
  • Complete shipment management: arranging for the transportation, customs clearance and local delivery for a shipment (a one stop solution).

The importer/importer of record

The importer of record (your client) is responsible – and thus liable – for the payment of all duties and taxes and accuracy of the information presented to CBSA. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your processes are compliant with all government regulations. Compliance can fall by the wayside due to a lack of time commitment to correct and input precise data and a lack of internal expertise and resources.
Importers are also required to keep a hard or soft copy of records for six years from the end of the calendar year in which the goods were imported.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

The CBSA is the federal government department responsible for ensuring compliance with Canada’s tax, trade and border regulations. It is also responsible for making sure that all OGD requirements are met before goods are allowed to enter Canada.

The CBSA reserves the right to inspect shipments at the importer’s expense if the inspection involves loading and unloading cargo, if the examination takes place at a location besides a designated customs facility, and if it takes place after hours. It may also deny entry of the shipment into Canada, seize the contents, or request additional information.

If you are found non-compliant the CBSA may levy financial penalties under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

One way to reduce the frequency of inspections is to have a strong record of compliance, and partner with carriers and brokers who are also committed to compliance.

Contact your Livingston account executive e-mail us at or give us a call at 1-800-837-1063