The opportunities of CARM

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If you import goods into Canada, you will have heard of the CARM initiative of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Your broker will be peppering you with emails to encourage you to register at the online portal, post a security bond and begin paying your duties and taxes directly. Unless you wish to account and pay shipment-by-shipment, prior to release, you will be required do these things by early next year. You will no longer be able to use your broker’s security bond or have your broker make payment for you.

CARM is an acronym for CBSA’s Assessment and Revenue Management System. It is designed to give the CBSA a more direct relationship with importers and increase the effectiveness of their audit and enforcement activities. The most positive feature for importers is the opportunity to become more directly involved in the customs process. If you wish, by early 2023 you may file your customs accounting declarations yourself through the CARM portal. The existing Form B3-3 will be replaced by a new electronic form yet to be published. Hopefully, the coding system will be made more user friendly to the importer by drop-down menus and similar tools.

I encourage importers to draft their own declarations for review by their customs broker. This requires some knowledge, which is provided elsewhere on this website in articles on the basics of tariff classification, valuation and origin. Knowledge allows you to better provide to your broker the complete and accurate information that he or she needs to obtain prompt release and avoid unpleasant surprises if the CBSA comes calling later. Online resources available to help you draft your own declarations and customs invoices are described in this article.

If you haven’t registered for CARM, I suggest you do that soon so you can get comfortable the system before you need to use it. You will find all your import transactions and monthly statements of account there now. You may continue to delegate to your broker substantially all customs accounting functions except payment. However, you must take action on the portal do do this.

CARM does not affect the release process. Importers and brokers will continue to provide the customs invoice, cargo control and other release package documents as they have in the past.

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