The Government of Canada recently designated the Niagara Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Point. This serves 12 municipalities east of Hamilton to the US border. To continue developing the business climate nation-wide, it’s important to drive innovation and investment by opening up to international markets. Importers traditionally rely on customs brokers to document and clear their goods through customs.
Nearly 230,000 importers deal with the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) annually. Given the volume of shipments, most of these rely on the services of a licensed customs broker to get shipments cleared. For every transaction, critical business information such as country of origin, destination, tariff class, routing, and intended use must be provided.
For many importers that’s only part of the story. Customs brokers are now helping businesses to incorporate this data into business intelligence that can be used to help companies develop new product lines, new markets and global trends, as well as reduce costs.
There’s also been improvement in the integration of automated shipping and processing services that let brokers handle shipments 24/7 at key channels along the US-Canadian border. Automation allows licensed and experienced brokers to minimize release waits, secure paperwork, and determine the proper tariffs and weights to expedite processing. Automation also helps the flow of information regarding Canadian customs guidelines. It’s crucial to keep up with changing regulatory and security requirements to keep shipments moving.
The PARS system
The PARS (Pre-arrival Review System) allows brokers to request customs clearance to Canada with minimum information before their goods even arrive. This process speeds up releases and inspection referrals through the use of a PARS tracking number. A computerized PARS checker can be used to reference status on each shipment. Often a package that meets all the requisite guidelines can be released within minutes.
Brokers and importers using PARS must attach a label to a bill of lading or invoice with the bar-coded PARS information, which include the word “PARS”, the alpha-numeric carrier code assigned by the CBSA, and a sequential tracking number. The CBSA agents use hand-held scanners to scan the label into the system at the point of entry. If the shipment has been pre-approved, it’s quickly released for entry into Canada; otherwise further inspection – and delays – are necessary before the shipment is released.
Using a licensed customs broker is a highly recommended practice for any business importing product or raw materials. An experienced and properly equipped broker can use their resources to meet regulations and dramatically improve and shorten the process – saving money and headaches.