Canada-U.S. Blog Trade Lawyers Cyndee Todgham Cherniak and Susan K. Ross

U.S. Boaters Soon Will Be Able To Venture Into Canadian Waters Without Reporting To Canada Customs

Posted in Customs Law

boatingOn June 12, 2017, the Canadian Parliament passed at third reading Bill S-233 “Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization Act”, which is a bill that already passed in Canada’s Senate on April 11, 2017.  What this means is that Bill S-233 will become law as soon as it receives Royal Assent (which should occur soon).  What Bill S-233 does is amend the Customs Act to not require certain US boaters out for a pleasant day on Canada-US waters to report to the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”).  Boaters cruising the Great Lakes and other bodies of water that are in both Canada and the United States can sail more easily and not worry about a large CBSA fine, seizure of a boat and/or cancellation of NEXUS passes.

As a general rule, anyone coming to Canada must report to the CBSA as soon as possible after arrival in Canadian waters.  Subsection 11(1) of the Customs Act sets out the general rule and provides:

“Every person arriving in Canada shall, except in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, enter Canada only at a customs office designated for that purpose that is open for business and without delay present himself or herself to an officer and answer truthfully any questions asked by the officer in the performance of his or her duties under this or any other Act of Parliament.”

Subsection 11(3) of the Customs Act requires that the captain of the boat ensure that passengers and crew report to the CBSA (in other words, steer the boat to a reporting location) and provides that:

“Every person in charge of a conveyance arriving in Canada shall, except in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, ensure that the passengers and crew are forthwith on arrival in Canada transported to a customs office referred to in subsection (1).”

Bill S-233 adds the following exception to the general rule:

“Subject to the regulations, subsections (1) and (3) do not apply to any of the following persons, unless an officer requires them to comply with those subsections:
(a) a person who enters Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada on board a conveyance directly from outside Canada and then leaves Canada on board the conveyance, as long as the person was continuously on board that conveyance while in Canada and
(i) in the case of a conveyance other than an aircraft, the person did not land in Canada and the conveyance did not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while in Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or
(ii) in the case of an aircraft, the conveyance did not land while in Canada; and
(b) a person who leaves Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada on board a conveyance and then re-enters Canada on board the conveyance, as long as the person was continuously on board that conveyance while outside Canada and
(i) in the case of a conveyance other than an aircraft, the person did not land outside Canada and the conveyance did not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while outside Canada, or
(ii) in the case of an aircraft, the conveyance did not land while outside Canada.”
Subsection 12(1) of the Customs Act also establishes as a general rule that all goods that are being imported into Canada shall be reported  to the CBSA and provides:
“…all goods that are imported shall, except in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, be reported at the nearest customs office designated for that purpose that is open for business.”
Bill S-233 provides an exception to this general rule:
“Subject to the regulations, unless an officer otherwise requires, this section does not apply in respect of goods on board a conveyance
(a) that enters Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada directly from outside Canada and then leaves Canada, as long as
(i) in the case of a conveyance other than an aircraft, the conveyance did not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while in Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or
(ii) in the case of an aircraft, the conveyance did not land while in Canada; or
(b) that leaves Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada and then re-enters Canada, as long as
(i) in the case of a conveyance other than an aircraft, the conveyance did not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while outside Canada, or
(ii) in the case of an aircraft, the conveyance did not land while outside Canada.”
We must wait for regulations to see if there are any exceptions to the exception to the general rules.
If you require more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168.  For more information about Canada’s customs laws, please go to the LexSage website.