Argo Customs Explains Important New Rollbacks of Surtaxes on Certain Imports from The United States

June 8, 2019 – Toronto, ON ARGO Customs has good news for Canadian importers: surtaxes on steel, aluminum, and other finished consumer goods such as playing cards and whisky, have been rolled back.  As of May 19, 2019, the United States Surtax Order (Steel and Aluminum): SOR/2018-152 and the United States Surtax Order (Other Goods): SOR/2018-153 are repealed.

Previously, steel and aluminum had a surtax of 25%, and other finished consumer goods had a surtax of 10%.  These surtaxes, established in June of 2018, are both now entirely removed.  This will make it far easier for companies within Canada to import and resell such goods.

At present, the Canadian government has limited plans to offer reimbursements to importers who had paid those surtaxes.  In general, reimbursement will not be offered, but the government will be willing to consider requests for reimbursement in a limited number of cases:

  • If the good was considered to be in short supply, on either a national or regional basis, 
  • If ongoing importation was mandated by existing contracts which predate May 2018, or
  • In the case of an exceptional circumstance which could have threatened the Canadian economy.

Importers who feel they may qualify for reimbursement under these conditions can contact the Ministry of Finance for further direction.  Reimbursements are not guaranteed and will be considered solely on a case-by-case basis.

Argo Customs is glad to see these surtaxes removed and hopes this helps spur greater economic activity between Canada and the United States.

About ARGO Customs

ARGO Customs are a team of experienced, high-powered international trade specialists who are dedicated to helping Canadian companies more effectively do business across national borders.  Argo Customs is fully licensed, and has extensive experience with goods of all types, including tightly regulated products such as foods and other agricultural products.

For more information or press inquiries, please call 1-888-311-8303 or visit


What You Need to Know About Changes to the Importation of Steel Goods (Customs Notice 19-08)

Effective May 13, 2019, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Customs Notice 19-08 came into force. Notice 19-08 amending the order which set a surtax for certain steel goods (SOR/2018/206). The new order applies to the following goods:

  1. Goods from Canada;
  2. Goods from Israel (or another CIFTA country); the United States; the Republic of Korea (South Korea); Peru; Panama; Mexico; Columbia; and Chile; and
  3. All goods from WTO member-states who are within the General Preferential Tariff system.

There are two goods subject to the surtax: (1) Heavy Plate; and (2) Stainless Steel Wire. The following HS codes for heavy plate are covered by the surtax (bear in mind, these numbers are illustrative – not exhaustive): 7208.51.00.10; 7208.51.00.93; 7208.51.00.94; 7208.51.00.95; 7208.52.00.10; 7208.52.00.93; 7208.52.00.96. In general, carbon steel plate and high-strength/low-alloy plates are covered by the surtax.

Similarly, the following HS codes are applicable for stainless steel wire: 7223.00.00.10; 7223.00.00.20. Steel wires which are drawn cold in various specific widths and dimensions are also subject to the surtax.

You should review the schedule to determine clearly if your goods are subject to the surtax.

The surtax will be in effect until October 24, 2021. However, the surtax decreases from and from 100,000 tonnes to 54,699 tonnes for each period. The first period runs from May 13, 2019, to May 12, 2020. The second period runs from May 13, 2020, to May 12, 2021. And the final period ends October 24, 2021, at which point the surtax will end. The surtax reduces from 20% to 10% for steel plates during the periods and from 25% to 5% for stainless steel wire.

ARGO Customs

When importing or exporting goods into or out of Canada, make sure that you have proof of origin to substantiate where your goods come from to ensure that you pay the appropriate surtax. The CBSA may require you to provide purchase orders, bills of lading, mill certificates, product literature, or other permits. ARGO Customs agents can help you prepare your paperwork and guide you through the process or act on your behalf.

A Guide to What You Should Know Before Trying to Import Goods into Canada

Canada restricts the importation of various goods like food, plant, and animal products (FPA) because they could cause substantial damage to Canada’s native biosystems, fisheries, native environments, domesticated crops, and can even be a harm to humans. In fact, a single piece of meat or fruit that harbors the wrong pests or diseases can cause rampant destruction in Canada.

Importing Food, Plant, and Animal Goods into Canada

Accordingly, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) inspects and restricts a broad range of products coming into Canada, including, but not limited to:

  1. Houseplants;
  2. Homemade items, such as things carved from wood or made from plants;
  3. Firewood;
  4. Various foods including fruit and vegetables; milk; and cooked or raw meats;
  5. Seeds; and
  6. Even muddy hiking boots (which can harbor damaging microbes).

You should review the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) prior to trying to bring an FPA product into Canada. You don’t want to get stuck at the border while your FPA is processed and to determine if it can be admitted. Also, keep in mind, the restrictions can vary based on the item and country of origin. For example, a pet dog might be restricted if it comes from southeast Asia but is less likely to be restricted if it is from the United States. These guidelines are continually adjusted based on changes in disease and pest situations – so do research before you come to the border.

If you need assistance understanding the Automated Import Reference System or would like assistance to bring in an FPA product, then please do not hesitate to contact ARGO Customs Brokers. Our brokers can assist you in advance to ensure you have a smooth transition at the border. When you come to enter Canada, be sure to have the HS Tariff classification code and the country of origin as this information will facilitate a faster determination. If you have any questions, you can email us – – or contact our team for a live chat.

A Non-Resident Importer’s Guide to Bringing Food into Canada

A Non-Resident Importer (NRI) is a person or company that imports food into Canada but whose permanent place of business is in a place other than Canada (for instance, the United States). If you are an NRI food importer you can apply for a license under the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations (SFCR).

If you are an NRI, you are required to receive a SFCR license. You can apply for a license if your permanent place of business is located in a country that Canada recognizes as having a food safety system that provides comparable levels of protection as Canada’s system. If you are concerned that your home country doesn’t meet Canada’s requirements, feel free to give the brokers at ARGO Customs a call. They can review Annex A and Annex B which outline the specific foods that are approved for import from designated countries.

How You Can Import Food into Canada as an NRI

First, you can only import food into Canada that is from the country where your fixed place of business is located (i.e., you can’t re-distribute imported foods). For example, a US-based NRI cannot import French cheese or Japanese whiskey into Canada. The US-based NRI may only import food that originates from the United States. However, you can import food from other locales if it was imported into the US where it would have been subject to food inspections and oversight before it is imported into Canada.

The specific requirements for importing food products into Canada can be found in the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). The AIRS system is continually updated so, prior to importing, you should review the AIRS system to confirm that there aren’t any new requirements for your particular products.

Applying for a License

You can apply for a license online at My CFIA. The online portal allows you to determine which licenses you need to apply for (e.g., manufacture, process, package, etc.) and the requirements for each license. The program is flexible allowing you to acquire the licenses you need to run your business. If you require assistance using the AIRS database, please do not hesitate to contact ARGO Customs.

Contact ARGO Customs Today

If you need assistance importing food products into Canada as a non-resident importer, please call ARGO Customs. Their brokers can walk you through the requirements based on your country and products.

Understanding the New Licensing System Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

The Safe Food For Canadians Regulations (“SFCR”) came into effect on January 15, 2019. Many of the requirements are being phased in over a 12 to 30 month period. The phase-in periods affect fish, meat products, dairy products (including eggs), certain vegetable and fruit products, honey, unprocessed foods, additives, and organic aquaculture foodstuffs. If you need assistance with customs clearance in Canada for these products, please do not hesitate to contact the brokers with ARGO Customs.

About the New SFCR System

Part of the newly-in-force SFCR is a new online licensing system. If you import or export foods into or out of Canada, you can now apply for a license online for whichever activities your business engages in. For example, licenses are available for:

• Importing;
• Manufacturing;
• Treating;
• Packaging;
• And processing food products.

The new licensing system streamlines the old process by creating a universal system to identify who is involved in the production and supply of food in Canada. As you can imagine, the purpose of the system is to improve safety in the food supply system. Moreover, the system is not dogmatic; it is flexible allowing you to structure your license application to apply to the business in which you engage. For example, you can apply for licenses for importing and packaging but not for manufacturing, treating, or processing of food products. Finally, the system more closely aligns Canada’s food inspection and safety system with international norms allowing you to export your food products more easily.

If you are unsure if your business needs a license, the Canada Food Inspection Agency designed this interactive tool to help you. Moreover, if you would like more specialized attention regarding customs clearance in Canada, you can always contact ARGO Customs for assistance. In general, if your business engages in any of the above-listed activities as it relates to food, you likely will be required to apply for a license.

Understanding the Difference Between DRC vs. SFCR

Please be advised about the difference between a Safe Food for Canadians license and a Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) membership. The DRC is a non-profit that was founded to encourage ethical and fair-trade practices by providing a forum for the effective resolution of trade disputes which – in theory – reduces trade externalities. An important note, if you want to import fresh fruit, you need an SFCR license and DRC membership.

ARGO Customs Can Help

Contact ARGO customs today for more information about customs clearance in Canada and importing and exporting.

What You Need to Know Regarding the Participating Government Agencies (PGA) Program and How it Relates to Customs Clearance in Canada

Since January 2019, a significant amount of products are now regulated by the Participating Government Agencies (PGA) program which seeks to move more goods into the Single Window initiative (SWI) which will streamline the sharing of commercial import data among the participating agencies. This means that you no longer have to check with two, three, or more government agencies to ensure that you are in compliance with Canadian customs clearance regulations; you can get all the rules you need to know in one convenient location – SWI.

So far, the following nine agencies are participating in PGA:

1. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
2. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
3. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
4. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
5. Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
6. Health Canada (HC)
7. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
8. Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
9. Transport Canada (TC)

Co-regulated Goods

Certain goods and products are subject to co-regulation. Chapter 23 of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document provides more detail. But, in summary, the following commodities are subject to regulations by multiple entities. Agricultural products and tires are subject to further inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; vehicles are subject to regulation by Transport Canada and certain aquatic biotechnology products are subject to additional regulation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. There are many more products and commodities subject to additional regulation and the brokers at ARGO Customs can help you navigate the various regulations.

ARGO Customs Brokers are fully-integrated into the SWI IID system which ensures that we can quickly input your entries and confirm that your goods are cleared for entry into Canada. If you need experienced customs clearance into Canada, you cannot do better than the experts are ARGO Customs Brokers. If you need help importing your goods into Canada, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

Everything You Need to Know About Importing Specialty Steel Products into Canada

ARGO Customs Brokers are among the premier customs brokers in Toronto and throughout Canada. Their experienced brokers can assist your business in importing carbon and specialty steel products from a variety of countries. ARGO Customs brokers can help your business estimate VAT, import duties, and handle everything you need to get your goods across the border and connected to a reliable shipper.

Carbon steel

Carbon steel includes a broad range of products from semi-finished, such as blooms, billets, ingots, sheet bars, wire rods, sheet metal, plate, wire products, structural shapes (i.e. beams, pipes, and tubes), railway products, and other products are described in the Import Control List. The Import Control List describes all products that are subject to additional screening or import duties due to the nature of the product, which includes many different things from chemicals to weapons of war (or things can be used to create weapons of war).

Specialty steel

The carbon steel list specifically excludes the specialty steel products which are described in section 70 and include: flat-rolled steel (i.e. plate, strip, and sheet), stainless steel pipes, bars, tubes, wire, and other wire products, steel mold, alloy tool steel, and steel used in high-speed applications. Essentially, this includes all steel products that have been semi-worked and are used in specialty applications; unlike carbon steel, which has broader applications.

Take special note of certain steel products that are classified by HTS code 7208.25.00.00 et. seq. and can be found here. These goods are described in the customs tariff and are not subject to the surtax order because they are imported in small quantities.

ARGO Customs Brokers use a Single Window Initiative (SWI) certified system that ensures their brokers can review and submit your entries very quickly. If you need a customs brokers in Toronto, or at any major port-of-entry please do not hesitate to contact ARGO Customs Brokers today!

Importing a vehicle into Canada for personal use.

ARGO Customs brokers are using a streamline SWI to process vehicles

via Single Window Initiative (SWI) Integrated Import Declaration (IID) (service option (SO) 911 which allows us to submit all information electronically 9no RIV Form 1 is needed to be presented on paper at the border).

Importing Motor Vehicles

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) assists Transport Canada with the administration of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations by administering and enforcing the conditions under which new and used vehicles may be imported at CBSA points of entry. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act regulates the importation of vehicles to reduce the risk of death, injury, and damage to property and the environment.

To be eligible for importation into Canada, vehicles must qualify for entry under one of the following two principals:

1. vehicles that are required to be registered in the RIV Program, which only applies to US specification vehicles purchased or originally sold in the US at the retail level;

2. vehicles that are not required to be registered in the RIV Program, which applies to all other vehicle entries including CMVSS vehicles, age-exempt vehicles, non-regulated vehicles and vehicles imported temporarily.

Under the Single Window Initiative, release requests will be submitted utilizing a new Integrated Import Declaration (IID) that allows ARGO Customs brokers to submit and obtain electronic release for goods also regulated by participating department and agencies.

For most commercial importations of vehicles, the completion of a Vehicle Importation Form – Form 1 and Vehicles Imported for Parts – Form 3 can be processed via the IID.

Vehicles imported under the case-by-case process will no longer be required to present a case-by-case letter for both Canadian and US specification vehicles. However, importers will need to continue to apply to Transport Canada 4 to 6 weeks in advance to obtain approval and to receive a case-by-case authorization number that can be used in the IID process.

ARGO Customs – Importing Goods and Vehicles into Canada

ARGO Customs Brokers now submit required data electronically, including the Statement of Compliance. In addition, required images (e.g., licence(s), permit(s), and certificate(s) and other(s) can be electronically submitted through the use of the new Document Image Functionality.

The Mexico Steel Goods Remission Order came into effect on February 2, 2019.

Effective Feb. 2, Mexican energy tubular products (such as those used to build pipelines) and wire rod shipments will no longer cost an extra 25 per cent under Canada’s emergency ‘safeguard’ measures.

Steel (some particular goods & HS codes related to) from other countries that don’t have free trade agreements with Canada will continue to face the extra tax.

• Heavy plate
• Concrete reinforcing bar
• Energy tubular products
• Hot-rolled sheet
• Pre-painted steel
• Stainless steel wire
• Wire rod

These are imported from all countries except for the exclusions listed below:

a) goods originating in Canada.
b) goods originating in and imported from the U.S., Chile, and Israel or another CIFTA beneficiary.
c) goods, specifically heavy plate, concrete reinforcing bar, hot-rolled sheet, pre-painted steel and stainless-steel wire, originating in and imported from Mexico.

Customs Clearance and Importing into Canada

Please ask ARGO Customs Brokers when you are planning to import a such kind of goods. We’ll be happy to assist.

How to Clear Customs into Canada and How a Customs Broker Can Help

Customs is the process by which the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) and affiliated agencies which is responsible for enforcing Canada’s import and export laws. For example, the application of taxes and duties, review of products which are forbidden to exit or enter Canada, holding periods, and the transit of goods through Canada to their final destinations.

To clear customs in Canada, you need to be familiar with these six steps:

1. Preparing your import;
2. Identifying your goods;
3. Ascertaining duties and taxes;
4. Shipping, examining, and reporting your goods;
5. Getting your products released; and
6. Record keeping after goods is released.

Preparing to Import

To import your goods, you must obtain a business number from the CBSA which will allow you to pay the duties and taxes. Next and identify the goods you want to import, including the country of origin – which impacts the taxes, and which also informs you whether Canada even allows your good to enter. Finally, ascertain if your goods are subject to any restrictions or regulations.

At this point, you can hire a customs broker in Canada. Customs brokers in Canada can help you clear customs by advising you on your goods, identifying the duties, and ascertaining if any special paperwork is required. They handle the customs process, so you don’t have to. Second, you need to classify your goods. You know what you’re importing, but the CBSA doesn’t. the CBSA uses a 10-digit tariff classification system which tells the CBSA all of the above information. Third, you need to calculate your duties and taxes, which you a customs broker in Canada can help you with.

Next, you ship your goods. Make sure that you report your goods once they are prepared for shipping. The fifth step is getting your goods released, which requires submitting proof of payment of applicable duties and taxes and clearing any other issues (such as special exemptions, etc.).

Remember, the CBSA can verify your importations, so you need to keep all your paperwork for at least six years and make sure it is accurate, so if you see any errors - correct them.

ARGO Customs Brokers Are Here To Help

ARGO Customs Brokers are positioned at all major ports of entry. ARGO Customs Brokers are ready and happy to assist with your food importations and licensing.