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Blog Posts

How to avoid delays at the border

Are your goods getting stuck at the border, and you’re wondering why? Delays at the border can be frustrating, stressful and costly – and they’re also avoidable!

Border delays are no fun for anyone. So how what can you do to prevent them?Screen Shot 2017 11 13 at 10.03.48 AM

The cause of border hang-ups often comes down to documentation errors. We’ve identified the most important things you can do to ensure smooth sailing of your goods through the border.

  • Make sure your documents are complete. Missing documents will always cause delays, and can result in monetary penalties, too – something nobody wants.

  • Make sure your documents are correct. The most common – and preventable – documentation errors are inaccurate or incomplete product descriptions and incorrect country of origin information. Country of origin can affect duty rates and permitting or licensing requirements so it’s important to get it right.

  • Make sure your documents are legible. Double-check the quality of photocopies and any handwritten information to make sure it’s easily understood.

  • Use a reputable carrier over all modes of transport. Make sure they’re certified under customs security programs (PIP in Canada or C-TPAT in the U.S.)

  • Do your research. Know what you can import, what each good’s requirements are and what you need to do to meet them.

  • Use a checklist so nothing is forgotten. It sounds simple – and it is! A checklist will ensure you don’t miss anything and that you follow the same formula that works every time.

Finally, partner with a reliable customs broker who understands what’s important to you, and can help you navigate the customs process from start to finish.

If you do follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring a smooth customs experience that’s free of delays...Watch Here!

Company Compliance Programs: an essential part of your business

Because importers… not their brokers, not their suppliers… are ultimately responsible for customs compliance, sound compliance practices need to be woven into the culture of any company that moves goods across the border.

Building a compliance program will help ensure everyone in your company adheres to the laws and regulations you are bound to. And adopting practices consistently across your company will help mitigate against unnecessary risk and liability in the eyes of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

A Compliance Manual is an essential part of your compliance program.

A Compliance Manual is used as a reference to communicate to your staff how the company handles customs valuation, classification, origin and tariff assignments as well as the method and rationale for doing so. A Compliance Manual documents what has been done in the past and what continues to be done to meet compliance requirements.

A Compliance Manual should include – for starters – all company procedures and documentation related to: Company Compliance Program

  • AMPS (the CBSA’s Administrative Monetary Penalty System)

  • Business Numbers (BNs) and BN corrections

  • Detailed Adjustment Statement (DAS) procedures

  • Maintenance of Records

  • NAFTA and other free trade agreements

  • Post-entry adjustments, B2 refunds and amendments

  • Standard Operating Procedures (see below)

Your company’s compliance professionals can flesh out other pertinent elements that should be included in your business’s compliance plan. 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are a key component of an effective compliance plan and should be spelled out in the Compliance Manual. 

SOP provide a detailed explanation of how a policy is implemented by your company. An effective SOP communicates all aspects of the company’s compliance plan, including:

  • who will perform each task

  • where the task will take place

  • when the task will be performed

  • how the staff member will execute the task

  • all documentation that shows the task was completed

Compliance is an ongoing process, not a one-shot deal. Compliance practices need to be applied company-wide and be continually reviewed to ensure consistency with CBSA requirements and that they are consistently applied by all staff.

Implement a compliance program today

Don’t let poor compliance practices affect your business and impact your reputation. Ensure the alignment between your business polices and customs regulations by developing a Compliance Manual that includes SOP.

Our Consulting Department can help with all your customs compliance needs. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!

Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International

The Difference Explained…

Tariff vs. duty

The words tariff and duty are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference in their meaning and usage. In essence: When a government and the economy are mentioned, the word tariff is more commonly used; when the rates and the amount paid or owing are discussed, the word duty is more commonly used.

…but let’s delve a little deeper.Difference explained

Tariff = HS: The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (a.k.a. Harmonized System, or HS) is a standardized system for classifying traded products. The HS is recognized – and used – by hundreds of countries around the world.

Goods for import will fall into one of approximately 5,000 HS categories with unique numeric codes. These codes communicate to customs agencies the material make-up, primary purpose and end-use of an imported item.

A country’s customs agency uses the HS codes to apply the required tariff rate to imported products. The tariff rate is used to calculate the amount of duty owing on the product.

Duty, therefore, is the amount of money paid on a product to an importing country, and is based on the product’s tariff rate classification.

Finally… A customs duty is commonly considered an indirect tax so it is sometimes also referred to as an “import tax.”

Check back our blog for more of these explained differences.

Blockchain technology and the container shipping industry

What is blockchain?

Blockchain technology is a computer-based open-source system for undertaking and tracking transactions. With an agreed-to network of interconnected participants, a blockchain eliminates the need for third party oversight traditionally provided by a bank or online tracking portal.

The concept was conceived of to support the international online currency, bitcoin. In blockchain, the management of all transactions – most often financial or logistical – takes place collectively by the network of participants in a peer-to-peer environment.

Because all participants can see – and need to agree – before a transaction can be confirmed or modified, transparency is increased, which helps to:

  • reduce fraud and errors

  • reduce the time that goods spend in the transit and shipping process

  • improve inventory management and, ultimately

  • reduce waste and cost.

Blockchain technologyIs it more secure?

There are varying opinions, but most say yes. By storing data across the network and employing digital encryption, it is generally believed that the security risks associated with traditional centralized storage systems are reduced.

Blockchain & Shipping

Blockchain technology could be the next big thing to happen in the shipping industry. It provides an exciting opportunity to go paperless while allowing all parties (seller/buyer of cargo, ship owner, charterer, bank, agent, customs officials, port authority, etc.) to benefit from a transparent and secure online environment throughout the supply chain.

Blockchain can allow all stakeholders to:

  • schedule and track physical transactions

  • exchange and store information

  • meet their contractual obligations

  • give and accept instructions and

  • securely exchange payments.

Calculations, approvals and other transacting activities could eventually become automated and paperless, too.

It’s already happening

Earlier this year, shipping giant Maersk and software company IBM teamed up to conduct an end-to-end digitized supply chain pilot using blockchain technology. By all accounts, it was a success and both companies are optimistic about this system increasing efficiency and cutting costs of shipping. Maersk has already committed to moving and tracking 10 million of its 70 million container shipments by the end of 2017 using blockchain.

Got questions?

This is new. We’re learning, too. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today to learn more about blockchain and the role it can play in modernizing your shipping business.

Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International

President Trump, NAFTA and the North American auto industry

The automotive industry in North America is one of the success stories of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The elimination of duties and easing of cross-border trade that NAFTA wrought has increased efficiencies in the automotive sector, leading to lower costs and ease of commerce across a well-integrated, North America-wide supply chain.

What could change?

The change in administration at the White House, however, is very likely to lead to changes in trade relations among the three NAFTA countries. President Trump has made clear his intention to keep jobs in America and source American products as much as possible.

Trump has targeted the reduction of the U.S.’s trade deficit with Mexico as one of his prime objectives: the value of which was $55.6 billion in 2016 – due in large part to the U.S.’s trade deficit in autos and auto parts.

Changes to NAFTA affecting the auto industry will have far-reaching impacts to importers, exporters, carriers and brokers across North America.

Trump NAFTA auto industryWhat would it mean?

If Trump seeks a deal that guarantees a certain percentage of production for the U.S., this could disrupt a complex supply chain that sees parts crisscrossing NAFTA borders and has made North American car production competitive with Asia and Europe.

There’s also a risk that changes could make North American producers less competitive, or even motivate them – as well as overseas suppliers – to choose to pay a tariff rather than follow the complicated new rules – meaning higher costs that would ultimately cost consumers.

What should we do?

For now, we can only take a wait and see approach with the ongoing NAFTA talks. Suppliers may want to consider expanding sourcing options if rules of origin for autos and parts become stricter. And anyone can keep informed by checking our “What’s happening with NAFTA” blog to keep up on the latest news.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. our consulting department to understand the latest NAFTA talks and to get information on how a rejigged NAFTA could affect you.

Information provided by: NAFTA & Free Trade Dept. - Cole International