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CBSA Changes the Game in Mid-Play with Foreign Bonded Freight Forwarders

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On December 6th the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) posted Customs Notice CN16-29.  One of many Customs Notices released over the past few months by the CBSA as eHBL / eManifest bogs down in a quagmire of implementation challenges, this one could have significant impacts on Canadian freight forwarders.

With a stroke of a pen, the CBSA has granted non-resident freight forwarders the same rights and privileges to obtain a bond and conduct business in Canada as Canadian resident freight forwarders.  Previously freight forwarders were required to be physically located in Canada to be eligible to apply for a bonded freight forwarder carrier code. This requirement has been amended to allow freight forwarders who are located outside of Canada to apply for a bonded freight forwarder carrier code.”

It seems that the CBSA received a written legal challenge to its original policy that only Canadian resident companies could apply for and receive a bonded 8000 carrier code.  And so, the policy was changed.

Not a big deal you think?  Think again.

Since 2008 the Canadian international freight forwarder community has been sitting at the table with the CBSA on the design and development of the eHBL portion of eManifest.  And, we have conducted countless meetings, workshops, road-shows and webinars with the CBSA setting the rules in its policies and regulations and IT systems – all in the name of helping forwarders prepare for the new reality of eHBL.

To change the rules at this stage of the game is not playing fair.  Every Canadian forwarder has agreed new service arrangements for transmitting eHBL data, established operational procedures, implemented training, re-organized workforces and drafted new agency agreements with overseas agents – all based on the premise that only a Canadian bonded freight forwarder could move unreleased goods.  Now, that all changes.  Now, every Canadian freight forwarder will need to spend more management hours and more costs reaching out to every agent and ensuring everybody knows who will file the eHBL and whose bonded 8000 carrier code will be used

Un-level Playing Field

Thousands of non-bonded agents in virtually every country of the world file ACI supplementary data today.  And, the ecommerce service providers in those countries who charge them monthly and transactional fees have, apparently, no intention of losing that revenue.  So, all of a sudden, those agents can apply for a bond and move unreleased goods around the country.

What happens to the Canadian forwarder who has invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of management hours in this new program?  What about the Canadian freight forwarders who are today facing huge implementation challenges?  It is the Canadian forwarders that have eHBL air shipments stuck in limbo for three weeks because the CBSA operations guy at the counter doesn’t know what paper to stamp. It is the Canadian freight forwarder running paper to the longroom for validation because terminals and airlines don’t have D4 Notices.  And because D4 Notices aren’t working yet anyway.

These are the companies that have borne and continue to bear the cost of an ugly eHBL implementation.  And now foreign forwarders can reap the benefits.  How is that fair play?

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