Customs clearance in Canada: A quick overview of the process


If you are interested in the business of importing, the first obvious step is to understand the basics of international trade. Imports are subject to numerous laws, regulations and statutory requirements, and most importers are unaware of the numerous changes that must be adhered to. Customs clearance in Canada can take time, depending on how the paperwork is completed and the category of imported goods. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that most regular importers and businesses engaged in commercial importing work with services like Clearit customs brokerage. A customs broker is licensed by CBSA (the Canada Border Services Agency) and they help clients in staying compliant to requirements while importing.

How does it work?

The process of customs clearance in Canada is rather simple. All shipments and imports are first sent to CBSA (the Canada Border Services Agency). A visual inspection is done and all the paperwork and documents related to the shipments are reviewed. Next, the shipments that require no duties and other legal packages are released. Others may be held for further inspection. If your paperwork is complete and up to the mark, the customs clearance process can take as little as 20 minutes. Customs brokers work with CBSA electronically, so they don’t need to have a physical office at the destination port. If you have hired customs brokers, they will complete the forms, and the clearance process can be initiated.

Understanding the complications

In some cases, customs clearance can take longer, especially if the volume of imports is high at the destination process. In other cases, some shipments are just held for inspection. Such shipments will be then placed in a warehouse and checked by customs officials. It can take more than 48 hours for such imported goods to be cleared. During the holiday season, customs clearance can take considerably longer time. If you are dealing in commercial imports, one of the better ideas is to keep at least a few days in hand for customs clearance during the peak season.

Final word

Working with a customs broker is the best way to stay compliant with the clearance process. However, brokers don’t bypass the customs clearance process, but help you adhere to it. Don’t shy away from asking questions, discuss your requirements and make sure that you have had a word on the possible issues that may crop up with your imports, which can be specific to certain categories.