The Customs Act gives the Canada Border Services Agency the authority to randomly select shipments for examination to verify compliance or to take samples in reasonable amounts.

The frequency of examinations will depend on the importer’s compliance record, the type of goods imported, and the compliance record of the supplier, carrier, broker and forwarder.

Shipments are chosen for examination for several reasons:

  • to detect prohibited or restricted items (e.g., pornography, narcotics) or smuggled goods;
  • to fulfil other government department’s legislative requirements (e.g., meat inspection, import permits); or
  • to ensure the goods comply with customs legislation (i.e., to verify their description, value, quantity, origin, and marking against the invoice information).

All companies reporting goods bear responsibility for all costs associated with the unloading and reloading of the conveyance.

After a carrier has been notified that their shipment is to be examined, they will have two hours to complete appropriate business transactions with the service provider and present their goods for examination. Failure to present the goods within this time period will be deemed a contravention of the Customs Act and appropriate penalties will be assessed.

In instances where the offload and subsequent examination cannot take place at the border (e.g., perishable goods, etc.), the shipment may be convoyed to an appropriate facility for inspection.