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Customs Compliance


Cole International's Customs Consulting team is known for melding creative solutions with airtight customs compliance. Leveraging our exceptional relationships with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and our knack for working well with auditors, our style is collaborative, not antagonistic. The processes and tools we've developed for our compliance practice are leading edge.

Trade Services

Unless you live and breathe customs all day long (like we do), you're not likely to understand all the complexities and intricacies of the industry…and nor should you have to. With Cole International in your corner, you'll benefit from our unparalleled expertise in the ever-changing, increasingly complex world of international trade. Think of us as your 'Encyclopedia of Trade Knowledge'.

  • HS Tariff Management -The world’s largest trading countries use The Harmonized System (HS) of tariff classification.  The service is offered to resident and non-resident customers.  Under this service, our consultants will review a client’s existing HS tariff classification and prepare a fully researched and customs compliant database.  Tariff Relief -There are numerous relief programs that reduce or eliminate duty.  This service will identify relief opportunities either as a separate service or in conjunction with a general audit.  Furthermore, we will represent clients who have unique circumstances that are not covered by existing programs.NAFTA Sourcing & Record Keeping.
  • Free Trade Agreements -When you import goods from other countries, the convoluted, multi-layered complexities of Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) can seem an overwhelming obstacle to your business. A Free Trade Agreement allows you to compete on a more level playing field with businesses in the FTA partner country.

    Cole is very well versed in the ins and outs of all free trade agreements and we’ll guide you smoothly through the complicated compliance process. By identifying, soliciting and verifying the countries that are now part of FTAs with Canada, we can help minimize free trade exceptions and reduce or eliminate tariffs payable on the goods you import.

    Canada has free trade agreements with more than 10 countries and is in negotiations with more than 60 countries, including some of the world’s key markets. It is important to note that each FTA covers different industry sectors and contains different provisions, depending on the FTA partner.

    True to our comprehensive, proactive, full-service approach, Cole International will:
    •     Update your database to ensure the correct application of the Free Trade Agreement
    •     Maintain certificates to prevent duplication and minimize exposure
    •     Identify potential refunds on qualifying goods
    •     Provide detailed, customized reports
    •     Review suppliers’ certificates and seek corrective action where required

    Our services can provide full technical support for clients and vendors to determine eligibility, record Keeping requirements, rules of origin, origin criteria, certification requirements, and related enforcement and administration concerns associated with a large variety of Free Trade Agreements.

  • Value for Duty - Cole will compose an audit of the existing method of valuation resulting in any recommendations necessary to achieve compliance.  If the customer's past valuation practice was not in compliance, we will recommend a course of action to return to compliance, to include negotiations with Canada or US Customs and any of the services associated with such actions.
  • Drawbacks - A variety of products that enter Canada or the USA are subject to a refund of duties paid based on the fact that they subsequently left Canada or the USA in the same condition they arrived in or as a component of manufactured goods.  Refunds are available retroactively for 2-4 years depending on the issue and regulation involved.
  • General Audit Agreement - This service involves a complete audit of past import or domestic transactions to evaluate the assigned tariff classifications, duties, GST, provincial taxes and other commodity taxes.  The audit will serve to identify overpayments and minimize future disbursements and maximize compliance.
  • International Trade Study - This study provides residents or non-residents comprehensive data related to the regulatory and trade processes for any country.  The service will identify import regulations, documentation, procedures and processes related to the client's trade requirements.

Customs Compliance Services

The true value of customs compliance consultancy boils down to knowledge and effort – how much your consultants know…and how hard they're willing to work for you. By combining unparalleled expertise with a tireless commitment to each customer, Cole International is working hard to become the premier supplier on the compliance side of the logistics landscape.

  • Compliance Management -The environment surrounding trade activities has dramatically changed with the introduction of monetary penalties for non-compliance with customs regulations.  Our consulting services group provides an array of compliance services including compliance reviews, systems reviews, HS databases, compliance seminars and training, profile management and customer-specific consultation.
  • Voluntary Disclosures - Voluntary/Prior disclosures are used by an importer/exporter to notify the CBSA or CBP of discrepancies inherent in their trans-border transactions. By utilizing a voluntary disclosure the importer can eliminate the potential penalties that would normally apply if the discrepancies were found during an audit. These disclosures may also be made on an anonymous basis until a decision has been rendered by the CBSA or CBP.  Our service will include the review of discrepancies with the importer prior to disclosure, development of a plan of action, preparation and presentation of the actual or anonymous disclosure, review of the CBSA’s or CBP’s response and preparation/presentation of all appeals arising from the disclosure.
  • Penalty Reduction Agreements (PRAs)US and Canadian customs can allow companies to enter into PRA’s following the assessment of penalties relating to import compliance.  We will assist the client by reviewing the penalties assessed, Provide advice on the best course of action and if required negotiate on the client’s behalf the terms of the PRA with either CBP or CBSA.
  • Penalty Mitigation - A variety of penalties can be applied for infractions incurred by importers.  Each recurrent penalty increases the monetary amount of the next infraction. It is crucial that all penalties regardless of size or level be appealed to insure future compliance costs are kept to a minimum.  Your import profile reflects the amount of customs enforcement you will receive and determines the frequency of customs audits.  Our service focuses on the reduction or removal of penalties from your import record.

    Cole will attempt to reverse the impact of enforcement action and provide advice on future compliance requirements, including appeals directly to the assessing officer, the Adjudications Directorate of the Canada Border Service Agency, Customs Border Protection or higher when necessary and warranted.
  • Seizure Appeals - Seizures and ascertained forfeiture occur when goods have not been reported or were undervalued for Customs purposes.  We will represent the client in such enforcement action, prepare any required appeals and provide advice on future conformance.

Border Security Services

Cole International's consultants will help you navigate and negotiate the ever-changing, ever more complex border security issues that have become the norm since 9/11.

  • C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) - is a joint US Customs-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen the overall supply chain and border security. Through this initiative, Customs is asking businesses to ensure the integrity of their security practices and communicate their security guidelines to their business partners within the supply chain.

    Our service entails all aspects of the C-TPAT application and acceptance process including preparation and submission of the Memorandum of Understanding and preparation and submission of the supply chain security profile questionnaire to Customs.

    Cole conducts a comprehensive self-assessment of supply chain security using the C-TPAT security guidelines jointly developed by Customs and the trade community. These guidelines encompass areas of Procedural Security, Physical Security, Personnel Security, Education and Training, Access Controls, Manifest Procedures, and Conveyance Security.

    We can help you to develop and implement a program to enhance security throughout the supply chain in accordance with C-TPAT guidelines and communicate C-TPAT guidelines to other companies in your supply chain.
  • PIP (Partners in Protection) - is a joint Canada Customs-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen the overall supply chain and border security. Through this initiative, Customs is asking businesses to ensure the integrity of their security practices and communicate their security guidelines to their business partners within the supply chain.  Services for this program are the same as those offered under our C-TPAT program noted above.
  • Security Maintenance Program - This program focuses on the yearly maintenance aspects of being a member of C-TPAT or PIP.  Annually vendors are polled to identify their ongoing commitment to security.  Security profile updates and changes to security policy, process must be voluntarily submitted to Canada or US Customs or both.  Failure to update your files correctly can result in the loss qualification status.  Annual monitoring and self-assessment is a critical part of maintaining your existing security status.  This service proactively manages the monthly or yearly maintenance requirements for both security programs.

Project Logistics

For companies constructing, importing or exporting manufacturing/processing facilities or similar capital projects whose scope or volumes demand special care and attention, Cole International's consultants apply their keen experience to ensure timely release and delivery of goods, minimized duties and taxes, and full compliance with regulatory requirements and CBSA standards. Cole International's capital project experience includes oil & gas refineries, manufacturing plants, oil- sands mines, petrochemical complexes, power plants and airport expansions with budgets ranging from a few hundred thousand to over six billion dollars.


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