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Why is eManifest so Badly Needed? A Review of Recent Events in Vancouver Helps Explain.

eman ruth blog


Toronto, Ont June 24, 2015       How much longer a global trading country like Canada can compete in an international trading arena with such archaic, outdated, obsolete, expensive, deconsolidation procedures is a serious question.  Since 2007 CIFFA has been at the table providing input and sector guidance on the design and development of eManifest for freight forwarders.  Did you ever wonder why we are so keen?

A review of recent events at Vancouver and at the CBSA Longroom in Montreal shows clearly why this country needs nationally standardized processing of Customs transactions, especially for our deconsolidation procedures.  Only with eManifest, the freight forwarder eHBL and the elimination of paper will we find any relief from the arbitrary actions of individual CBSA officers.

On May 31st the CBSA closed their satellite office at the Simard-Westlink warehouse where many freight forwarders had presented consolidation re-manifests for stamping by the CBSA.  On April 23, 2015, CIFFA wrote to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) expressing our members’ concerns over the closing of the CBSA commercial satellite office and the termination of services at Simard Westlink in Vancouver. We could just tell that troubles would follow and sure enough they did.

As a result of the closure, starting June 1st requests for re-manifest validations were presented for stamping to other (different/ new) officers. Those officers didn’t agree with how re-manifests had been presented for the past decade and so rejected many consolidations.  Within three or four days chaos reigned.  Freight forwarders didn’t know why their manifests had been rejected, containers were going on storage and the phones at the association office began ringing.

After investigating with members and speaking with CBSA supervisors we identified the cause of the rejects, advising members in the eBulletins of June 4th and 16th of the change and the new procedures.  Again we wrote to the CBSA explaining that delays, frustrations and costs could have been avoided in this instance and could be avoided in the future if individual officers did not introduce immediate change – without notification or explanation.  In its response letter, it is clear that the CBSA simply didn’t understand that it wasn’t the closure of the satellite office that was the issue – we were well advised in advance about that.  It was the fact that suddenly a different CBSA officer was stamping paper and deciding – without any justification – that s/he didn’t like how re-manifests were presented and so rejected dozens of re-manifests out of hand.

Fast forward two weeks to Montreal and the problems forwarders are encountering with re-manifests at that Longroom.  The CBSA is under-resourced at Montreal.  New officers and temporary staff are manning the counter and are rejecting manifests left and right.  Remember, it takes +/- 48 hours these days to get stamped paper back in Montreal.  If a consolidation is rejected, it has to go back down to the Longroom and back in a pile.  If these reasons for rejects don’t make you laugh they will make you cry.

  • No Country for the shipper: 8000 all clearly show Chittagong, Bangladesh.  When the forwarder called to ask ‘What the ?? … the response was … wait for it …”Oh, is Bangladesh a country?”
  • Insufficient description: “Men’s Leather Baseball Gloves”. Response when queried” Oh, I thought we needed more than that”
  • My personal favourite – and a new one to me, “The description of goods on your 8000s don’t match the description of goods on the primary 9000 CCN.”

Some processing errors by the CBSA – which result in the same delays:

  • HBL’s came back stamped (in back of mail copy) but the 9000 not stamped, so couldn’t get freight from carrier.
  • 1 out of (example) 11 HBL was not stamped due to 9000 series being incorrect, which was the exact same number on all the other 10.

To make a long, sad story short – we must push through eManifest.  We must get to a place where we don’t send five pieces of paper for every HBL for stamping (Toronto) or two pieces (Montreal) and where individual officers can’t interpret complex DMemo’s.  We must have an electronic, data-driven, paperless process to move cargo in this country.  eManifest / eHBL can’t come soon enough.

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