COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - The latest

Updated: 3 April 2020 at 18:00 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) 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.
April 3: Confirmation received from CBSA that Non-Resident Importers are eligible for the deferral of payment until June 30th.
 
April 2: Further to our March 30, 2020 message “ Administration and Implications of the federal government’s payment deferral decision”. Clients who paid CBSA for amounts owing on the March SOA, prior to the Prime Minister’s payment deferral announcement on March 27, and who wish to request a refund, should send the request to the CARM mailbox. Due to questions about appropriate legislative authority to refund these payments and the high volume of work currently underway in the payment processing unit, importers may wish to delay their request until after Easter or at minimum should not expect a response before then.
 
April 1: CBSA has advised that interest will not be charged on duty and tax that has been deferred and for which payment is received on or before June 30.
 
March 31:
  1. Payment of Excise Tax (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) will NOT be deferred. A Customs Notice outlining this decision, including a revised payment due date for excise tax amounts on the March SOA and a waiver of the interest and penalty is expected within the next week. 
 
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.
 
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 confirmed that there is 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) - CBSA announced a 45 business day grace period for late accounting penalties. Application  for a late accounting penalties waiver is not required. 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 30: 
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 30: 
 
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.
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: 
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 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 continues 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?
March 20: CBSA will delay 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 OGD regulated goods.
6. Given the challenges in conducting fulsome consultations regarding policy and procedural matters will CUSMA be delayed?
 
March 17: CBSA will continue CUSMA consultations and implementation preparation and encourages stakeholders to continue to engage the Agency with questions, concerns and to provide advice. Ultimately, any decision to delay implementation will not be a CBSA decision.
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.
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. Is CBSA considering the same measure for Trade Verification Audits?
 
March 30: CBSA has temporarily suspended trade compliance activity interaction with importers/exporters and representatives from March 23, 2020 until April 20, 2020.
11. Is CBSA intending to alter its timeline for CERS implementation?
 
March 30: CBSA is reviewing the on-boarding schedule for the new Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) and the planned decommissioning of the Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) system. Any schedule changes will be communicated shortly. Clients are encouraged to continue activating CERS accounts to the extent possible.

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