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Invoice Requirements, Bills of Lading, Letters of Credit

CBSA requires information about all goods entering Canada. For commercial goods, this information is often included on a commercial invoice, a Canada Customs Invoice (CCI), or a combination of both.

Information from these invoices is provided to CBSA, usually by an importer or broker and in an electronic format, prior to the arrival of the goods. This allows CBSA to make a decision on whether to allow the goods entry into Canada. For example, if the country of origin is a known source of illicit drugs, or the importer isn’t known to CBSA, CBSA may deem the goods to be of high risk and decide to examine them upon their arrival.

Invoice requirements can be met by providing CBSA with:

  • a commercial invoice, prepared by any means (handwritten, typed, or computer generated), and containing all required data; or
  • a commercial invoice, prepared by any means, and indicating the buyer and seller of the goods,  the price paid or payable for the goods, and an accurate description including quantity of the goods contained in the shipment, plus a Canada Customs Invoice (CCI, Form CI1), containing the balance of information required; or
  • a fully completed Canada Customs Invoice (CCI).

The exporter, importer, owner of the goods, or a customs broker may complete a CCI.

The value of the goods, upon which any duty and tax is calculated, is determined by information provided on any invoice(s) that accompanies the goods.

  • information can be provided on more than one type of invoice;
  • a fully completed Canada Customs Invoice (CCI) meets all of the invoice requirements; if a CCI is used, careful attention must be paid to fields 23 – 25;
  • the value for duty of imported goods is generally based on the information provided on invoices; the exporter, owner of the goods, or a customs broker may complete a CCI; and
  • a commercial invoice must contain all required data or be accompanied by a CCI.

Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier to the exporter or shipper of goods. It contains details of a shipment and indicates who has title to the goods.

  • Among other things, a bill of lading includes: the name of the shipper;
  • the consignee;
  • the name of the party that is to be notified when the goods arrive; carrier name;
  • description of the goods; and the weight.

You may wish to conduct an internet search to have a look at the many samples of bills of lading. A bill of lading may also be used:

  • as a receipt for goods received by the carrier and describes the condition in which the goods were loaded on board;
  • to support a claim against the carrier for loss or damage; and
  • to support a specific tariff treatment, since it indicates the point where the goods originated and any transhipment that took place.

A straight bill of lading is used when the goods have been paid for in advance. It is non-negotiable and non-transferable and the goods may only be released to the party named as the consignee on the bill of lading.

An order bill of lading is consigned to the order of another party, such as a bank. It is negotiable and title to the goods may be transferred while the goods are enroute.

A “clean” bill of lading is one that does not contain any notations or comments. This indicates that the goods being carried are in good condition, with no obvious defects.

Once the goods begin their journey, the carrier will usually send the importer at least two copies of the bill of lading to serve as notice of imminent arrival of the goods.

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