COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - The latest

Updated: 27 March 2020 at 17:00 ET

The following is a list of issues forwarded to CBSA and other government departments and agencies for consideration in the context of the current COVID-19 situation.

On March 23, 2020, CSCB President Carol West wrote to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair outlining the critical role played by customs brokers and asking that any federal list of essential service providers include customs brokers. We do not know how this will mesh with recent provincial announcements but will keep members informed.
CSCB Position CBSA/OGD Response
1. Many businesses are not fully functional as a result of less than optimal staffing. This impacts everything from operations to financial capabilities. Decisions are required on all of these matters as soon as possible.
a) Customs brokers will continue to do whatever is possible to encourage and/or forward payments but CBSA must be lenient in allowing for incomplete or late March and April SOA payments without penalty. Consideration also should be given to the ongoing financial implications for Canadian business in the months following a return to “normal” business.
March 27: The CSCB has taken the lead in advocating for deferral of duty and tax payments in view of the consequences to business of COVID-19. We did this with the support of a number of other key associations.
 
The Prime Minister has just made an important announcement on GST, HST and duty, which means that month end payment of duties and taxes on imports is deferred until JuneWatch the press conference.
 
Details: 
b) Late accounting penalties should be automatically waived.
March 26: CBSA has advised that there has been no change to the requirement to account for goods within 5 business days of the release decision. If there is a late accounting, within the period defined in CN 20-10, the late accounting penalty will be waived. Late transaction payment interest and penalty provisions for late payment, listed in D17-1-5, still apply.
 
March 19: CN 20-10 (19 March 2020) - the CBSA has decided to provide for a 45 business days grace period for late accounting penalties. Clients will not have to submit an application to have late accounting penalties waived. This applies to transactions released from March 11, 2020, to May 14, 2020, inclusively.
 
c) The 90-day timeframe to submit B2s pertaining to a Trade Compliance Verification should be extended.
March 18: CN 20-09 (18 March 2020) - effective immediately, the period of 90 days for submitting corrections, following a CBSA trade compliance verification where errors were found, will automatically be extended by 30 days
d) During compliance verifications, CBSA issues interim reports. We recommend that the 30-day time frame for a reply to the interim report be extended.
March 27: CBSA Response: Due to the impact that COVID-19 is having on individuals and businesses, the CBSA will temporarily suspend trade compliance activity interaction with importers/exporters and representatives until April 20, 2020. Effective immediately, all deadlines imposed in connection with the verification are automatically extended by a period of time equivalent to the period of suspension. Given the circumstances, the length of this suspension period may be re-evaluated at a later date.
e) In those situations where a time limit to request a refund or drawback under the Customs Act is nearing expiration the filing deadline should be extended.
 
f) Emails granting a customs broker authority to act or e-signatures on agency agreements should be sufficient when CBSA requests proof of such authority.
 
g) Will CBSA be temporarily halting new information requests to importers, relating to SIMA inquiries? If not, the timeframe for official SIMA requests for information should be extended.
 
h) DASs are distributed through Canada Post with a 30-day payment deadline. These are paid by cheque. When staff is not available to pick up mail, or to prepare hard copy cheques, CBSA should grant extensions to pay DASs or waive any related penalty or interest.
 
2. Employees of customs brokers and importers working from home often do not have access to fax machines.
a) Faxes are required when requesting Business Numbers from CRA. There is a need for an email option. March 24: CRA Response: CRA is working on a solution that will allow customs brokers to apply for client BNs by email as an alternative to fax. This may take several weeks.
b) Faxes are required for RMD corrections. CBSA Montreal however has a process that allows them to accept those correction requests by email. This option should be extended to all ports.  
3. Customs brokers and importers continue to file new and amended bonds for release prior to payment. 
a) CSCB recommends that a temporary procedure be implemented to allow for the filing of bonds by email. March 17: CBSA Response: CBSA will continue to have personnel in locations that normally receive bonds by mail and there will be no disruption to processing bonds received.
4. Regarding Vessels  
a) 1/120th B3 (initial entry) - if CBSA/Transport Canada is shut down and officers are not available, how do we present the entry and authority for the C48 (Coasting Trade Licence)?  
b) 1/120th B2 monthly extensions - if CBSA is shut down and officers are not available, what will be the procedures for payment and extension of the C48s next 30-day period?  
c) If a vessel is delayed entering Canada due to Covid-19 restrictions, will there be an extension of the "two-week window" for the start/end dates of the authority for the vessel to work in Canada? It takes 30 business days to reapply so this will not be practical in some cases.  
5. Will the mandatory implementation date for IID remain April 1, 2020?
a) Letter sent to CBSA President, Mr. John Ossowski re: decommissioning of OGD PARS/RMD March 20: CBSA Response: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the CBSA will be delaying the decommissioning of the legacy OGD service options until a date later to be determined. Clients may continue using the SWI IID or the legacy service options (OGD-PARS, OGD-RMD) to obtain release of OG regulated goods.
6. Given the challenges in conducting fulsome consultations regarding policy and procedural matters will CUSMA be delayed?
a) We will continue advocating for delay of consultations
March 17: CBSA Response: The CBSA will continue CUSMA consultations and implementation preparation and encourages stakeholders to continue to engage the Agency with questions, concerns and to provide advice while we are working remotely. Ultimately, any decision to delay implementation will not be a CBSA decision but for our part we need to hear from industry to help ensure we are prepared to act and advise internally and to other partner departments of any concerns as they arise.
b) We will continue to actively pursue resolution of issues such as the provisions regarding good unders $40 as well as those valued between $40 and $150.

March 19: De Minimis Under the CUSMA

7. Given the challenges in conducting fulsome consultations, what will be the impact on CARM design and implementation? 
a) CSCB recommends that there be immediate discussion of the impact on ongoing CARM design and implementation plans.  
8. CBSA should accept by email, release requests including required attachments, that currently can be filed only as hard copy. 
9. CBSA should accept by email, requests for the temporary entry of goods.10. The CRA will not contact any (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
a) Is CBSA considering the same measure for Trade Verification Audits?  
11. Is CBSA intending to alter its timeline for CERS implementation?

COVID-19
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Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) / Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) / Obtained by CSCB on behalf of members