On March 26, 2020, the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) notified certain importers under verification that the CBSA was temporarily suspending trade compliance activities due to COVID-19 – see The CBSA Temporarily Suspends Trade Compliance Activities due to COVID-19.

On May 19, 2020, importers received an update from the CBSA informing external stakeholders that the suspension has been extended until further notice.  A CBSA Verification Officer wrote the following in an email:

“The details of this suspension, both in terms of scope and duration is currently being reviewed by NHQ.  For now, we will continue to hold off on trade compliance interactions with stakeholders. The CBSA is reviewing this approach and will have more information in the coming days. For greater clarity, the CBSA is continuing to process drawback claims, applications for the Duties Relief Program, and B2 requests for adjustments, and these are unaffected by this temporary suspension. If your company wishes to continue the verification process, please email me. ”

What this means is that all trade compliance verification (audit) activities with respect to Canadian customs laws (e.g., origin, tariff classification, valuation, etc.) continue to be suspended and no end date to the suspension is being provided.The CBSA Verification Officers are not being called back to work at this time.

However, this is just a delay in trade compliance verification activities – during the COVID-19 crisis, new trade compliance verification activities will not commence and importers under verification will not be contacted by CBSA compliance officers to provide information to the CBSA. Importers who were under trade compliance verification at the time of the temporary suspension started should take the opportunity to continue to gather information requested by the CBSA and should continue to research any issues that may be under verification.

That being said, even though trade compliance verification activities are suspended, importers still must comply with Canada’s import and customs laws. Trade compliance activities actions will start again. Any tariff classification, origin, valuation or other errors made during the COVID-19 temporary shutdown period may be the subject of a future trade compliance verification and enforcement action.

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at cyndee@lexsage.com.