How to Efficiently Process Your Marine Container Through the Canadian Border

The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) is responsible for processing marine containers (and more broadly, all goods that seek to enter Canada). The CBSA is charged with ensuring that these goods do not pose a danger to Canada and Canadians while ensuring that goods pass through the border as seamlessly as possible.


In that vein, a substantial majority of marine containers are authorized and processed by the CBSA with little or no delay. The CBSA spot checks a handful of containers which is based on a random selection and relative risk assessment by using advanced technology to reduce the burden on importers. The CBSA is responsible for inspections of marine containers, but it does not charge for (1) the movement of containers nor for (2) the loading and reloading of containers.

The commercial examination process is conducted by a combination of stakeholders who handle specific roles and government inspectors. The CBSA conducts the examinations but does not charge a fee, control, or influence the movement of containers to and from CBSA facilities nor the reload and offload of containers (however, the stakeholders may see more below).

The CBSA completes its examination in approximately 24 hours (but it could take longer if an issue arises). Keep in mind the CBSA conducts these inspections to intercept smugglers. CBSA agents review risk assessment scores, and based on their experience, identify containers for inspections. Smugglers can add items in a commercial container without the owner of the container or shipper being aware of the addition.


While the CBSA will not charge you for the movement/relocation of your container, the operator of the inspection facility might. The operator of the facility handles the movement and reloading of containers subject to inspections. The CBSA absorbs all the cost related to the inspection, such as personnel and equipment.

Therefore, importers could face the following charges:

-        Loading

-        Arrival

-        Terminal fees

-        Terminal Storage

-        Delivery fees

Damage to Containers/Good

The parties responsible for each stage of the movement of the container is responsible for the container and its contents. If you believe your goods or container was damaged, then your first point of contact is the shipping line to identify when the goods or container was damaged. The following scenarios are possible. First, if the goods were damaged during transportation, then you should contact the carrier and proceed through their claims process. Second, if the goods were damaged during the reload/offload process, then contact the offload service provider. These providers are required to identify any damage in writing and provide it to you. They will have their own claims process. Finally, if the goods were damaged during the inspection process, then contact the CBSA superintendent for the port of entry where the goods were damaged. The CBSA is also required to identify any damage in writing.

Contact ARGO Customs for Importing & Exporting Solutions

If you need assistance moving your marine containers through the border, then look no further than ARGO Customs. Our agents are located at all major ports of entry (land and sea) and can assist you with the customs clearing process.

Contact us for more information about importing and exporting solutions.