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Responsibilities of the Customs Broker and Importer

To ensure compliance, CBSA requires vast amounts of information regarding imported goods and about the importer himself. The customs broker must be aware of any requirements for imported goods, such as import permits or restrictions. This means that the customs broker must be aware of any new, revised, and rescinded regulations.

The customs broker also needs to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the products and nature of the importer’s business.

They must be aware of the end-use of imported goods, since the amount of duties can depend on their end-use.

In addition, customs brokers are required to perform other highly specialized functions such as the processing of duty refunds, requesting a re-determination of tariff classification or the value for duty, applying for duty relief, or providing consulting services.

Customs brokers are also required to work within the transportation community. The extent to which the customs broker becomes involved with such tasks as securing steamship releases, surrendering original bills of lading, accepting and delivering customs releases, preparing and issuing delivery orders, and paying freight, handling, or delivery charges, depends on the regional and local practices of transportation companies and their cargo agents.

Specific Responsibilities of the Customs Broker

Customs brokers must:

  • provide their client with a copy of the customs accounting document prepared on their behalf (either a hard copy document or copy of information transmitted via EDI);
  • promptly advise clients of any funds received for that client from the Receiver General for Canada;
  • promptly advise clients of any funds received from that client that are in excess of any duties payable; and
  • promptly advise clients of any funds received from that client that are in excess of charges payable regarding that client’s business with CBSA.

Customs brokers must keep copies of:

  • records and books of financial transactions while acting as a customs broker;
  • each accounting document or a copy of information transmitted to CBSA via EDI;
  • all supporting documentation; and
  • records, accounts, and accounting documents while acting as a sub-agent.

Specific Responsibilities of the Importer

It is the importer’s responsibility to inform his customs broker of any relevant facts that affect the importation of his goods. The importance of the importer providing full and accurate information to his broker cannot be over-emphasized. An error in the description or the value of imported goods could result in penalties being assessed. Records of penalties are maintained by the CBSA, and a blemish on the importer’s record can have serious repercussions and may open the door to an in-depth investigation by CBSA auditors.

It is important to note that, under AMPS, penalties are issued to the importer when errors are made in the import process. Importers must be diligent in reviewing all documents prepared by third parties since, under the Customs Act; it is the importer who is held responsible.

Another responsibility of the importer is to maintain records, according to the Imported Goods Records Regulations.

If the importer does not have an office in Canada, a customs broker, accountant, or other authorized responsible agent may be appointed by the importer to maintain such records on his behalf, with the understanding that it is an obligation under the Customs Act that these records be kept. CBSA will permit an importer to keep records at specific locations outside of Canada if they meet specific conditions. Importers must contact CBSA for permission.

The key to a successful broker-client relationship is good communication, and an intimate knowledge, on the part of the customs broker, of the nature of their client’s business and the client’s awareness of the range of services their customs broker can provide.

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