What is a Customs Broker?
According to the Business Dictionary, a Customs broker is a "Person who is licensed by the local customs, after passing an examination that covers a broad range of knowledge including customs law, customs classification, customs tariff schedule, import and export regulations, shipping procedures, trade documentation, etc. He or she acts as a professional-agent for an importer or exporter, prepares and submits all documents for clearing goods through customs, and is paid customs-brokerage."
A customs broker in Canada is responsible for pulling the necessary information to get your shipment cleared through customs. In addition to helping importers get their shipments cleared, a Canadian customs broker has the ability to transform the data collected into critical business intelligence.
Customs brokers now offer many specialized services to ensure importers can develop new products lines, keep costs under control, enter into new markets and more. While the main job of a Canadian customs broker is getting your goods across the border safely, good customs brokers offer many other beneficial services.
What does a Customs Broker in Canada do?
According to CSBS.ca, more than 227K importers deal with the CBSA or Canada Border Service Agency annually. A large portion of these importers hire a licensed customs broker in Canada to ensure their shipments are cleared at the border.
The amount of data used to determine if your shipment should be cleared is rather large. From the country of origin to the tariff classifications to the intended use, the CBSA will use many forms of critical data to make a determination about your shipment.
A Canadian customs broker has the ability to do many things for you including:
- Prepare and submit your declaration to Customs at the port of arrival
- Gain access to documentation prepared for the contract or shipment
- Ensure all documentation is complete and in compliance with Canadian customs regulations
This is the basic level of service you can expect from a customs broker in Canada. Some brokers offer additional services, such as:
- Freight forwarding
- Trade consulting
- Fulfillment by Amazon
- And more!
Why do you need a Customs Broker in Canada?
Hiring a customs broker in Canada gives you more than just an edge when your shipment arrives at the port of entry. Importers hire a customs broker to ensure their shipment crosses the border with ease, which may not be so smooth without the help of a professional.
Handling customs is a time consuming and expensive process. Many importers simply don't have the time to handle the process, travel to the port of arrival where the goods may be held, and make a formal declaration. Instead, they hire a customs broker in Canada to save them time and money.
A customs broker offers the perfect solution for importers looking to save time and money. With the right Canadian customs broker, you'll have a professional partner handling the process of getting your goods through customs. This may be the most crucial partnership you make for your importing business.
Benefits of Hiring a Canadian Customs Broker ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Hiring a customs broker in Canada comes with several benefits. There are a few very specific benefits you'll gain including:
- A professional partner working with customs day in and day out to handle your shipments.
- Your customs broker will stay up-to-date with regulation and policy changes.
- Provide all the necessary technology to manage and declare your shipments. You won't need to find the resources to do this yourself.
Along with these primary benefits, a professional customs broker will provide other benefits, such as:
- Ability to reduce costs
- Improved efficiency
- Mitigation of risk
- Potential boost in competitive advantages within your market
The best customs brokers work very closely with international trade and customs professionals to ensure they are one step ahead. With Cole International, you even gain access to an in-house audit response team, which opens up many other benefits if you become subject to a CBSA customs audit. We also provide a regularly updated list of goods likely to be subject to an audit.
Top 7 Reasons to Hire a Canadian Customs Broker
Importing goods into Canada comes with plenty of things you must figure out including the customs process. Gaining clearance for your goods isn't easy, but the help of a customs broker in Canada offers a solution. Let's look at seven of the top reasons why you should hire a Canadian customs broker to handle all your imported goods.
1. A Full Understanding of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
Hiring a customs broker gives you a professional with an understanding of the GST. They will know when it should be paid and how much. In some cases, the GST may not be applicable at all, and your broker will know the regulations well enough to identify when goods may be "zero-rated."
In addition, your customs broker may be able to recover paid GST quickly. Partnering with the right Canadian customs broker helps to ensure you don't spend unnecessary money on GST.
In some instances, a GST and a Provincial Sales Tax or PST may be required. Some provinces combined their sales tax with GST charges, which lead to an HST or Harmonized Sales Tax, according to an article from Susan Ward published on The Balance Small Business.
The necessary taxes and documents you must file can become rather confusing. Your customs broker will provide a full understanding of the required taxes and ensure the proper documents are filed for you.
2. Provide Professional Advice When Importing Goods into Canada
Your customs broker will help with decisions, such as becoming a permanent establishment or foregoing this process when importing to Canada. You may run into issues as a non-resident firm importing into Canada. The advice of a Canadian customs broker will help lead you to a more informed decision.
3. Deep Understanding of Standard Trade Terms
It's not easy to gain an in-depth understanding of standard trade terms, which have a direct impact on duties and GST paid. A professional customs broker offers you a partner with the necessary knowledge of standard trade terms.
You may be subject to higher-than-necessary customs value without the right Canadian customs broker on your side. This could lead to paying a higher duty than necessary and open you up to other risks.
4. Help You Avoid Penalization
If you don't calculate your obligations correctly, you could be in non-compliance with the government regulations. This could lead to penalties under the Administrative Monetary Penalties System or AMPS. A customs broker in Canada will help you avoid these penalties with the correct calculations.
5. Help Identify the Correct Importer of Record
The importer of record is vital to the process of getting your goods cleared at any port of entry or border crossing. Your customs broker will help to identify the right party to become the importer of record.
This will help to decrease or even prevent tax liability for both the importer of record and the actual importer. Your customs broker in Canada will also help with the obtaining of an input tax credit (ITC) for any GST paid throughout the importing process.
6. Use Only the Prescribed Method of Valuation
A professional customs broker in Canada will use the prescribed method of valuation when determining the value for duty (VFD). The transaction value method is the primary method used to determine the VFD in Canada. Using the wrong method may lead to miscalculations, interest charges, reassessments, and other complications.
While the transaction value method is the primary method used for VFD, there are five other accepted methods of valuation including:
- Transaction value of identical goods method
- Transaction value of similar goods method
- Deductive value method
- Computed value method
- Residual basis of appraisal method
According to the CBSA, you must use the transaction value method whenever possible to determine the customs value of imported goods. Your customs broker will know when it's appropriate to use any of the other five methods of valuation.
7. Help to Avoid GST Audits with Drop Shipping
The Drop Shipment Rules must be treated with caution as misapplication could lead to significant issues. Customs brokers offer a full understanding of the Drop Shipment Rules to ensure your goods arrive to the end consumer properly.
When a non-resident vendor has goods shipped directly to the customer from a wholesaler or manufacturer, they must adhere to specific Drop Shipment Rules. Businesses often misapply these rules without realizing it, which creates issues during GST audits. A customs broker in Canada will help to ensure the Drop Shipment Rules are correctly applied.
Importing Commercial Goods into Canada
- Capital Projects
- Traveling Events
- Wood or Wooden Articles
The process for importing any of these goods includes several steps. You will likely need to follow the steps below before you'll be able to import your goods into Canada.
Step #2 - Identify what you want to import.
Step #5 - Make sure the goods you plan to import are allowed in Canada.
Step #6 - Determine if your goods will be subject to CBSA regulations, restrictions, or permits, along with any restrictions or regulations from other government departments.
Step #7 - Determine the tariff classification number for all items you're importing.
Step #8 - Determine the rate of duty and the applicable tariff treatment.
Step #9 - Determine if the GST will be necessary, along with any excise tax or excise duty.
Step #10 - Figure the value of the goods you'll be importing.
Step #11 - Create an estimation of the taxes and duty to be paid.
Step #12 - Choose a shipping method and place your shipping order.
Step #13 - Report the goods.
Step #14 - Obtain a release for your goods.
Step #15 - Make adjustments for any errors found in the accounting information submitted.
Step #16 - Maintain records for the imported goods for the next six years.
Step #17 - Understand it's still possible for the CBSA to verify and adjust your imported goods.
In addition to these 17 steps, you should also become familiar with any trade incentive programs if you plan to import goods into Canada.
The process of getting your goods cleared through customs isn't exactly easy. However, when you choose a customs broker to partner with, you'll be able to relax. Your Canadian customs broker will handle the entire process and help to ensure your goods make it through customs without issue.
Even if you've already tried this yourself and you've failed, a customs broker can help you. Cole International even has an in-house audit team ready to help if your goods have become subject to a CBSA customs audit.
What happens if your goods don't clear Canadian Customs?
It's not uncommon for a customs broker to receive a phone call because an importer's goods are stuck at the border. In fact, this may be the first contact the importer has with a customs broker because they attempted to handle the customs process on their own.
The good news, Cole International will step in and help you get your shipment across the border, even if it's stuck. We provide live receptionists ready to handle your phone call immediately.
Most Common Reasons Imported Goods Don't Clear Customs
Sometimes, your goods get stuck at the border, and the solution isn't complicated. When the issues are minor, your shipment will likely be clear customs quickly once you call a Canadian customs broker to help.
Some of the most common reasons for imported goods not clearing customs include:
No Custom Broker Identified - When your documentation doesn't mention a customs broker assisting with your clearance, you may end up with goods stuck at the border.
Not Sure Who the Importer of Record is - When the Importer of Record is hard to identify, the shipment may not clear customs.
Missing Paperwork - A very common reason why a shipment doesn't get through customs smoothly is missing paperwork. Maybe the shipment only has a Bill of Lading and no other documentation. A commercial invoice or a Canada Customs invoice should have been provided, but you failed to handle this step. Call Cole International, and we will help ensure you have all the necessary documentation to clear customs.
Incomplete Information - You may have filled out all the required forms, but you forgot to provide important information, such as the weight, number of pieces, or total value. Without the right information, clearance won't be granted by the CBSA.
The Goods - Sometimes, the actual goods you want to import into Canada are the issue. Your goods may be delayed due to the Participating Government Agencies waiting on approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or another entity. The goods could also be on the Import Control List, and you may need an Import Permit.
Instead of trying to get your goods across the border on your own, hire a customs broker in Canada. With the right customs broker on your side, all the issues keeping your goods from crossing the border can be addressed before your shipment even reaches the port of entry.
Customs brokers deal with customs every single day. They know what to expect, and they understand what's necessary when a shipment requires something special or additional documentation. Instead of taking a chance handling this on your own, call Cole International and let us take care of the hard work of clearing customs.
Choosing the Right Customs Broker in Canada
Not all customs brokers in Canada are created equal. In addition, not all situations for importers are the same. Whether you're just starting out or you already send more than 1,000 shipments per year, choosing the right customs broker in Canada matters.
When you decide you need to hire a Canadian customs broker, there are a few things you should consider first.
Are they located at the Port of Entry?While the internet does make it possible to use electronic communications when it comes to importing and exporting, a customs broker with a location at each major port of entry or border crossing provides additional benefits. Since they will be able to help in person, when necessary, you'll gain better customer service and customs service.
Do they work with new importers/exporters?Not all customs brokers will work with brand new importers/exporters. Some claim they will work with you, but they don't provide the necessary support for a beginner to commercial importing/exporting. Make sure the customs broker you hire offers full support for your level of experience.
Have they established a good business reputation?You need a customs broker with plenty of experience. Make sure they've been in business for many years, and they've established a solid reputation working with importing goods into Canada.
Will they provide all the necessary services for your importing/exporting business?It's a good idea to find out if the customs broker you want to hire will provide all the services you need. Maybe you need help importing goods into the US, or you need help with freight forwarding. Make sure they can handle all the services you need before hiring.
What type of communications will they have with you?Customs brokers should be able to provide the level of customer service you desire. If you need to be able to reach a live person 24/7/365, don't choose a customs broker without this option. You should also know if most communications will be via phone, email, or another form of contact.
Along with these questions, you should also consider asking the following:
- Are you a member of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers?
- Will I have someone assigned specifically to my account?
- Are you affiliated with any foreign customs brokers or carriers?
- Do you offer an in-house audit team to deal with CBSA customs audits?
- Does your company offer any specific areas of expertise?
- What do you require from me to develop my database records?
Obtaining Clearance at Commercial Customs Ports of Entry in Canada
Each port of entry is a bit different in Canada. Hiring a customs broker offering locations near the major ports of entry gives you a level of service you simply cannot get from a broker not located nearby. At Cole International, we believe in providing personal service and offer an in-house audit team ready to assist with any CBSA customs audits.
We offer locations close to all major ports of entry and Customs offices. All our locations can be found below, along with a contact number. If you need a customs broker near any major Canadian port of entry, call us, and we will be happy to help you with all your international logistics needs.
Alberta Customs Brokerage Offices
We currently have three locations in Alberta to serve you better. When you choose Cole International, you gain the personal service needed to import goods into Canada. We don't just use electronic communication and phone calls to handle your goods. When necessary, we show up in person.
Customs Broker in Calgary
Calgary is a major city in Canada, and many importers bring their goods into Canada through Calgary. Our team of logistics professionals will help you through the entire process. We serve many industries from the Customs Broker location in Calgary including Oil & Gas, Automotive, Food & Beverage, Sports Equipment, and more.
When you need a Calgary Customs Broker, Cole International has you covered. We provide a physical customs brokerage office in Calgary located at 1111 49 Avenue NE. Contact the Calgary office at 403-262-2771.
Customs Broker in Edmonton
When you need logistics support in Edmonton, we're here to help. Our Cole International Customs Brokerage location in Edmonton serves many industries including Recreation, Electronics, Oil & Gas, Construction, Automotive, and more.
If you plan to bring goods in through a port of entry in Edmonton, our customs brokerage office will gladly help. We provide a physical location at 310, 8657 - 51 Avenue in Edmonton. You can contact our Edmonton Customs Broker at 780-437-1936.
Customs Broker in Coutts
Our Coutts Customs Broker office is ready to help whenever you need to bring goods through a nearby port of entry. With our physical location found at 107, 1 Avenue South in Coutts, we are able to provide a high level of service for this area of Alberta. Contact our Coutts Customs Brokerage office at 403-344-3855.
British Columbia Customs Brokerage Offices
We offer two physical offices in British Columbia near the major ports of entry. Our offices are ready to serve you and make sure your goods make it into Canada safely.
Customs Broker in Vancouver
Our Vancouver Customs Brokerage is actually located in Richmond and provides the necessary convenience for the major ports of entry. The physical location for this office is found at 2220 - 3820 Cessna Drive in Richmond. You can also reach us by phone at 604-273-5161.
Customs Broker in Surrey
We also provide a physical location in Surrey, which is known as our Pacific Highway Customs Brokerage office. This location is found at 201, 17637 - 1st Avenue in Surrey. Contact our Surrey Customs Broker at 604-538-1512.
Saskatchewan Customs Brokerage Offices
Moving goods into Canada through Saskatchewan doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming. Our two customs brokerage offices will help ensure your goods make it into Canada safely and as quickly as possible.
Customs Broker in North Portal
Our North Portal Customs Broker office provides all the necessary logistics support you need. You can reach this branch office at 306-927-5100.
Customs Broker in Regina
Many importers bring goods through Regina every single year. If you plan to bring your goods into Canada through this port of entry, our Regina Customs Brokerage office will gladly assist. Our office is located at 20, 395 Park Street in Regina and you can contact us at 306-522-2061.
Manitoba Customs Brokerage Offices
Maybe your goods have been delayed at a port of entry in Manitoba. You're in luck as we have three locations in Manitoba ready to help you with any customs issues you may be dealing with.
Customs Broker in Emerson
Our Emerson Customs Broker will step in and help to ensure your goods make it safely across the border. We are located at 5, 389 Goschen Street in Emerson. Our contact number for the Emerson Customs Brokerage office is 204-373-2549.
Customs Broker in Sprague
When you need to import goods through Sprague, we provide the support you need. Our Sprague Customs Broker will assist in making the process go smoothly. Let us help with all your logistics needs. Contact our Sprague office at 204-437-2110.
Customs Broker in Winnipeg
Our Winnipeg Customs Broker is ready to help you with all your logistics needs. When importing goods through Winnipeg, you need a professional to ensure you don't run into any delays or major issues. Our office is located at 400 - 177 Lombard Avenue in Winnipeg and you can contact us at 204-944-9200.
Ontario Customs Brokerage Offices
Importing goods into Ontario offers several ports of entry. We cover the major ports of entry with 10 Customs Brokerage offices throughout Ontario.
Customs Broker in Fort Erie
Our Fort Erie office provides the logistics support you need. We are located at 13 Princess Street in Fort Erie, and you can call the Fort Erie Customs Broker at 905-994-9429.
Customs Broker in Fort Frances
When you need logistics support in Fort Frances, we have you covered. Cole International provides a Fort Frances Customs Brokerage office at 401A Mowat Avenue in Fort Frances. You can call our office at 807-274-7591.
Customs Broker in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is a popular destination for those importing goods into Canada. If you plan to bring goods through this port of entry, our local office will help ensure the process goes smoothly. Our Niagara Falls Customs Brokerage office is located at 214, 14154 Niagara Parkway, Queenston Lewiston Bridge in Niagara-On-The-Lake. You can also call us at 905-262-6500.
Customs Broker in Ottawa
When you need logistics help for goods crossing into Canada through Ottawa, Cole International is ready to provide assistance. Our Ottawa Customs Broker will assist you with getting your goods through the port of entry and into Canada safely. We are located at 140 Thad Johnson Road in Gloucester. You can contact us at 613-738-2211.
Customs Broker in Prescott
We receive several requests through our Prescott Customs Brokerage office every year from industries, such as apparel, electronics, retail goods, and several others. Our professionals will help with all your logistics needs from our office located at 4, 104 Commerce Drive in the Edwardsburgh Industrial Park. You can reach us at 613-925-1403.
Customs Broker in Point Edward
Known as our Sarnia Customs Brokerage, the branch in Point Edward serves several industries with logistics support. Our Sarnia Customs Brokerage office is located at 1555 Venetian Boulevard, Suite 14, Room 463 in Point Edward. You can contact us by phone at 519-344-5772.
Customs Broker in Sault Ste. Marie
Our Sault Ste. Marie Customs Brokers serve several key markets including Northern Ontario, Sudbury, North Bay, Barrie, Timmins, Northeastern Ontario, and Sault Ste. Marie. If you plan to bring goods into Canada through any of these locations, we're ready to help. Our Sault Ste. Marie Customs Brokerage office is found at 20 Huron Street, and you can reach us at 705-254-6448.
Customs Broker in Thunder Bay
The Thunder Bay Customs Broker office serves many industries including both mining and forestry. When you need logistics help in Thunder Bay, you can find our office at 180 Main Street, or you can call us at 807-624-2120.
Customs Broker in Toronto
One of our main locations, our Toronto Customs Broker, provides a full-service logistics team ready to help you. We serve many industries through the Toronto Customs Brokerage office located at 5955 Airport Road, Mississauga in Suite 223 of The Airway Centre. You can reach us at 905-672-6255.
Customs Broker in Windsor
The busiest border crossing in North America, Windsor offers a great port of entry for your goods. There are five crossing points: Windsor Airport, Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Detroit-Windsor Ferry, Ambassador Bridge, Michigan Central Railway Tunnel.
We will help you with your logistics goods throughout Windsor Customs Broker office. Most commonly, we help those importing produce, meat, paper, automotive, and many other industries from this location. Our Windsor Customs Brokerage office is located at 3950 Malden Road, and you can reach us at 519-250-5646.
Quebec Customs Brokerage Offices
Goods coming through Quebec into Canada must pass through one of the many ports of entry. We provide offices near the major ports of entry with seven Customs Broker offices in Quebec.
Customs Broker in Drummondville
Serving several industries, our Drummondville Customs Broker office provides all the necessary logistics services. The office is located at 101, 2800 Rue Power and you can reach this location at 819-475-1914
Customs Broker in Joliette
Our Joliette Customs Broker office is located in Notre-Dame-des-Prairies and offers a full range of logistics services. We provide support for many industries from this location found at 2 - 69A Rue Gauthier North in Notre-Dame-des-Prairies. You can reach our Joliette Customs Brokerage office at 450-752-1818.
Customs Broker in Lacolle
Offering an experienced and professional team of logistics experts, our Lacolle Customs Broker office supports many industries. We provide full logistics support from this location found at 336 Ridge Road in St. Bernard de Lacolle. Reach out to our team at the Lacolle Customs Brokerage office by calling 450-246-3950.
Customs Broker in Mirabel
Bringing goods through Mirabel into Canada? When you need help with logistics, our Mirabel Customs Brokerage office will provide all the support you need. We are located at 12005 Raymonde de la Roche, Cargo C, 203 in Mirabel. You can contact this location at 450-476-0888.
Customs Broker in Montreal
Montreal offers a major port of entry for goods crossing into Canada. Our customs team in Montreal offers plenty of experience when it comes to handling your logistics needs. We serve several industries here including hospitality, aerospace, food and beverage, retail, pharmaceutical, and many more.
When you need help importing good into Canada through Montreal, our team is ready to help. Our Montreal Customs Brokerage office is located at 201, 670 Orly Avenue in Dorval and you can contact us at 514-631-2653.
Customs Broker in Quebec City
Importing goods into Canada through Quebec City means you'll likely need logistics help. Cole International offers a physical location in Quebec City at 106, 2500 rue Jean Perrin. You can call our Quebec City Customs Broker at 418-847-7551.
Customs Broker in Trois-Rivieres
With a full understanding of logistics, our team at the Trois-Rivieres Customs Broker office will provide the support you need. We often serve the aviation, veterinary and commercial laundry industries from this office, but have the ability to serve many other industries here.
Our office is found at 001, 25 Des Forges in Trois-Rivieres, and you can reach us by phone at 819-373-9658.
Nova Scotia Customs Brokerage Offices
We offer one location in Nova Scotia to ensure your logistics needs are met.
Customs Broker in Halifax
Halifax is the major port of entry in Nova Scotia, and we provide a location here to handle your logistics needs. Our Halifax Customs Broker serves the major border crossing locations including Woodstock New Brunswick / Houlton, Maine, Moncton, Saint John, and St. Stephen New Brunswick / Calais, Maine.
Our team works with several industries from the Halifax Customs Brokerage office located at 1202 - 2000 Barrington Street. You can reach this location by calling 902-429-2321.
Newfoundland Customs Brokerage Offices
We offer one Customs Broker office in Newfoundland to help serve your logistics needs.
Customs Broker in Mount Pearl
Our Newfoundland location is found in Mount Pearl, and it's known as the St. John's Freight Forwarding office. This location handles freight forwarding challenges to help move your goods through the area safely. Our Mount Pearl location is found at 2300, 2-4 Southern Cross Road. You can reach this location at 709-747-7227.When you need help with logistics, freight forwarding, importing goods into Canada or any other services we provide, our corporate office is ready to serve you. You can reach out to our corporate office by calling 403-262-2771 or toll-free at 1-800-313-4281.