• Workplace Type: On-site

Audit Response Unit (ARU)

Audit defense and offense strategies

What seems like an innocent request for information from Customs is often the top of the rabbit hole that is an in-depth audit with wide-ranging scope—and potential liability.

We say “audit” because often, just receiving a verification request can feel like you’re being audited.

This is why, as a company trying to go it alone without the full understanding of what can happen following a verification request from the CBSA, you are at risk of facing an undesirable scenario that ends with an expensive conclusion.

Towards the end of 2001, the CBSA shifted from conducting random spot checks at time of clearance to post-audit. Our team quickly recognized the significant impact this would have on our customers.

As a result, in 2006 we created our Audit Response Unit (ARU) to help companies navigate an increasingly complex and changing regulatory landscape. As the CBSA continued improving their targeting and reviewed more transactions with greater efficiency, it became clear that our customers needed support in both navigating verification requests and taking proactive steps to mitigate the impact of an audit. 

Having lived and breathed the customs landscape for half a century by the time the ARU was born, our consultants were intimately acquainted with the issues, processes and auditors involved. Since inception, the Cole International ARU has been a knowledgeable and trusted liaison between the CBSA and importers throughout the verification process.

Never be surprised by a verification request again

The verification process begins with a request for information from the CBSA. Once you’ve received a request, a proactive approach is always the best approach. Our highly skilled and qualified team of consultants are here to help you focus on compliance, so you can keep any risk of audits at bay.

Our longevity in the industry means the CBSA knows who we are and the excellent reputation we have, an advantage that allows us to streamline the process for the benefit of all involved. 

I’ve received a verification request. What do I do?

First, when it comes to verification requests, we do not recommend facing them on your own.

Responding proactively to verification requests is always your best bet. Engaging our ARU and leveraging the longstanding relationship we have with the CBSA will result in:

  • clearer communication with the CBSA
  • not receiving a second reminder request
  • avoiding late filing penalties issued under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS)
  • the opportunity to collaborate with the ARU to manage and control the situation should an audit occur

Our understanding of the CBSA requirements is how we help simplify the process. By partnering with experience you will make customs compliance the new normal for your company.

Verification & Audit Support

Our specialized Audit Response Unit (ARU) assists you with the customs verification process from beginning to end while protecting the interests of your business.

Our team in the ARU liaises directly with Customs officials to help prepare requested documentation on your behalf. With a long history of customs knowledge under our belts, we put our extensive experience to work resolving outstanding issues and reducing the risk of  potential penalty assessments.

With our ARU involved from the onset, your experience of being audited is more likely to run smoother and feel less stressful than it will if you try to go it alone. This is why importers are encouraged to contact our ARU at the first sign of a verification request from the CBSA to discuss the customs request and determine the best way to respond.

Our ARU provides the following:

  • Experienced representation
  • Interpretation of Customs letters
  • Challenging decisions
  • Assistance in minimizing exposure to penalties
  • Monitoring of changing policies, both regionally and nationally 
  • Confirming and ensuring uniform application of any precedents set in various regions across the country
  • Reviewing both the interim and final audit reports to determine if changes are required for your ongoing business practices
  • Ensuring fair representation when working with Customs officials

ARU is here for you

When it comes to verification requests, don’t delay! If you receive a request from Customs or other early signs of a pending verification, contact Cole International’s Audit Response Unit immediately. We’ll help you determine the nature of the request and the best way to respond.

Working with our experienced ARU from the onset, no matter the size and scope of the request, will make what can feel like a daunting process much more manageable.We can help resolve issues, mitigate penalties and have fun doing it. After all, customs knowledge and experience are baked into the history of Cole International. 


The ARU helped us navigate the process of a CBSA Trade Compliance Verification (audit). They guided us through the initial phases, were instrumental in putting together our appeal, and liaised superbly with our external counsel to ultimately get the result we desired. Throughout the long and difficult process, the team was knowledgeable, professional and prompt. I would highly recommend their services.

- Ryan P., Alberta

Our proactive approach is designed to:

  • Hold your best interests in mind - Our experienced team keeps your company top of mind throughout the entire process.
  • Provide clarification - The ARU provides a knowledgeable interface between Customs and your company, from responding to requests for documentation to interpreting customs letters so you know precisely what’s happening.
  • Ensure decisions are accurate - Sometimes a decision should be challenged when warranted. That’s what we’re here for.
  • Maintain consistency - The ARU ensures uniform application of any precedents set across the country.
  • Understand verification reports from the CBSA - We provide a detailed risk analysis of the CBSA’s final decision, and interpret both the interim and final audit reports to help identify and determine if any changes are required to your business practices.
  • Represent your company fairly - We act as primary liaison with the CBSA and its Customs officials.
  • Keep your databases up-to-date - The ARU advises your Cole account representative of verification results, so your database reflects these as well.