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CED, an Overview of the Law — Customs and Excise

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are travelling outside of Canada, whether to visit family or just to take advantage of south-of-the-border deals. Before bringing any new purchases back home, it is important to review the law that applies to importing goods into our home and native land. This CED excerpt overviews some of the importing obligations imposed by the Customs Act and the power of customs officers to conduct searches on border crossers.

Customs and Excise

 



By: Mohan A. Prabhu



I.2, i.7: Customs Act - Obligations upon Importation and Enforcement



Click here for access to this ced title and its associated canadian abridgment links on westlaw canada.





I.2.(a): Obligations upon Importation - General

See Canadian Abridgment:  ITR.I.1 | International trade and customs | Import and Export regulation | General principles 




The Customs Act sets out the obligations of every person who arrives in Canada, who brings passengers and crew by a conveyance arriving in Canada, and who imports goods into Canada. The obligations are: to present oneself or the persons brought in the conveyance, to answer truthfully the questions asked by an officer, to report the goods in actual possession or in the accompanying baggage, to report the goods imported by other means or the wreck delivered to an owner or agent, and to pay or account for the applicable duties and taxes on the imported goods. The Act also contains provisions relating to the movement, storage and transportation of imported goods that have not been released, and the keeping of records by transporters, sufferance and bonded warehouse keepers, duty-free shops and importers.1 



I.2.(b).(i).A: Presentation by Persons Arriving in Canada 

See Canadian Abridgment:  IMM.II.1 | Immigration and citizenship | Admission | General principles




Every person arriving in Canada must enter Canada only at a customs office designated for that purpose that is open for business and shall forthwith present him or herself to a customs officer and answer truthfully any question asked by an officer in the performance of duties under the Customs Act or under any other Act of Parliament.1



The presentation requirement does not apply if a person presented him or herself outside Canada at a customs office designated for that purpose and arrived in Canada directly without stopover en route, unless an officer requires such person to present him or herself to the officer.2 Further, the presentation requirement does not apply if a person only enters the Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada while proceeding directly from a place outside Canada to another place outside Canada, unless required by an officer.3 It also does not apply to a person who holds an authorization issued by the minister4 to present him or herself in a prescribed alternative manner and who presents him or herself, or to a member of a prescribed class of persons authorized by regulations5 to present him or herself in the manner authorized for that class.6



I.2.(c).(i) Report of Goods – Report of Persons Arriving in Canada 

See Canadian Abridgment:  ITR.I.1 | International trade and customs | Import and export regulation | General principles; CML.VI.11.a Commercial law | Trade and commerce | Exports and imports | General principles




All goods in the actual possession and in the accompanying baggage of a person arriving in Canada, or that form part of the person's baggage where the person and the person's baggage are being carried on board the same conveyance, must be reported by that person or, in prescribed circumstances, by the person in charge of the conveyance, at the nearest customs house designated for that purpose that is open for business, at such time and in such manner as may be prescribed in the regulations.1



Failure to report certain specified goods2 which are in actual possession of person arriving in Canada or in that person's accompanying baggage does not ipso facto render the goods liable to seizure as forfeit if they are not charged with duties or taxes and if their importation is not prohibited under the Customs Tariff or prohibited, controlled or regulated under any other federal law.3



The reporting requirement may be waived by regulations.4 The requirement does not apply if the person importing the goods into Canada has reported them at a customs office outside Canada in accordance with the regulations, unless an officer requires that the goods be reported again.5 It also does not apply if the goods are on board a conveyance entering the Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada while directly proceeding from a place outside Canada to another place outside Canada, unless an officer requires that person to comply with the requirement.6



The report of the goods must be made in writing, if the regulations so require, in the prescribed form or in such form as is satisfactory to the minister.7 



I.2.(c).(i) Report of Goods – Report Where Goods Arriving by Courier or as Mail  

See Canadian Abridgment:  ITR.I.1 | International trade and customs | Import and export regulation | General principles; CML.VI.11.a Commercial law | Trade and commerce | Exports and imports | General principles




Goods imported by courier or as mail are to be reported by the person exporting the goods to Canada.1 The reporting requirement may be waived by regulations.2 The requirement does not apply if the person importing the goods into Canada has reported them at a customs office outside Canada in accordance with the regulations, unless an officer requires that the goods be reported again.3 It also does not apply if the goods are entering the Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada while directly proceeding from a place outside Canada to another place outside Canada, unless an officer requires that person to comply with the requirement.4

The report of the goods must be made in writing, if the regulations so require, in the prescribed form or in such form as is satisfactory to the minister.5



I.2.(c).(v) Report of Goods – Obligation as to Report  

See Canadian Abridgment:  ITR.I.1 | International trade and customs | Import and export regulation | General principles; CML.VI.11.a Commercial law | Trade and commerce | Exports and imports | General principles




Every person reporting goods inside or outside Canada, or who is stopped by an officer in accordance with the Act1 must answer truthfully any question asked by an officer with respect to the goods; and if required by an officer, present the goods to the officer, remove any covering therefrom, unload any conveyance or open any part thereof, or open or unpack any package or container that the officer wishes to examine.2



I.2.(d) Liability for Duties on Imported Goods  

See Canadian Abridgment:  ITR.I.1 | International trade and customs | Payment of duty | General principles




Imported goods are charged with duties from the time of their importation, at the rates applicable to them at the time they are accounted for under the Act1 or at the time of their release where the release was authorized under the Act,2 until the duties are paid or the charge is otherwise removed.3 The rates of duties on a wreck are those applicable at the time of delivery.4



Joint and several or solidary liability for the payment of duties on imported goods is imposed on: the owner of the goods at the time of release, along with the importer to whom the goods have been released and the person who is authorized to account for the goods in lieu of the importer or owner thereof;5 the person reporting goods, along with any person reporting who acts as agent6 or employee while so reporting, unless one or the other of them proves within the prescribed time that the duties have been paid or that the goods: were destroyed or lost prior to report or destroyed after report but prior to receipt in a customs office, sufferance or bonded warehouse or duty-free shop or by a transporter in bond within Canada; did not leave the place outside Canada from which they were to have been exported; have been received in a customs office, sufferance or bonded warehouse or duty-free shop; have been received by a transporter in bond; have been exported; or have been released.7 A similar exclusion of liability with respect to the transporter who transports imported goods that have not been released is provided for in the Act.8 Goods that have been authorized by an officer to be delivered to a place of business of an importer, owner or consignee9 are also covered by the liability exclusion conditions only if they have not been released.10



Where any wreck that has come into Canada from outside the country is delivered to its owner, the owner is liable to pay duties on the wreck from the time of delivery.11



Where more than one person is responsible for the performance of an obligation under the Customs Act, the performance of the obligation by any one of them is deemed to be performance by all of them.12

The following goods are, from the time of their removal for use on board a prescribed conveyance under the authority of an officer or by prescribed means, or from the time of their exportation, as the case may be, no longer charged with duties:13 goods designated as ships' stores under the Customs Tariff14 which after report are stored in a customs office or sufferance warehouse,15 or which are stored in a bonded warehouse after report and accounting in the prescribed manner;16 and goods which are exported directly from a customs office or sufferance warehouse17 or which are exported from a bonded warehouse or duty-free shop in accordance with the regulations made under the Customs Act,18 after having been reported and accounted for in the prescribed manner.19



I.7.(a).(i) Enforcement-Powers of Officers-Search of Persons

See Canadian Abridgment:  ITR.VIII | International trade and customs | Miscellaneous; LWE.II.7 Law enforcement agencies |Particular police and security forces |Customs officers 


 



An officer1 may search: any person who has arrived in Canada, within a reasonable time after arrival; any person who is about to leave Canada, at any time prior to departure; and, any person who has had access to an area designated for use by departing passengers and who leaves that area but does not leave Canada within a reasonable time afterward. Such a search may be conducted if the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has secreted on or about his or her person anything in respect of which the Customs Act has been contravened, anything that would afford evidence of such contravention, or any goods the importation or exportation of which is regulated, controlled or prohibited by the Customs Act or any other federal Act. If the person about to be searched asks to be taken before a senior officer, he or she shall be taken before the latter forthwith. If the senior officer sees no reasonable ground for the search, he or she must discharge the person; if the senior officer believes otherwise, he or she must direct that the person be searched. An officer shall not search a person of the opposite sex, and if there is no officer of the opposite sex available to conduct the search, an officer may authorize any suitable person of the opposite sex to conduct the search.2





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