Pre-arrival Review System

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The Pre-arrival Review System (PARS) is a Canadian Federal Government customs program that allows importers, or customs brokers acting on their behalf, to submit cargo information to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for review and processing before their goods arrive in Canada. This reduces border delays for the carrier at when entering Canada. When a PARS shipment arrives at a border port of entry the CBSA has already determined whether it will be immediately released or held for inspection.

For each shipment on their conveyance the carrier must provide to the CBSA officer a cargo control document (CCD) supplied with a unique identifier. This identifier is commonly referred to as the CCN or cargo control number. The CCN is actually an alpha-numeric string consisting of a four character carrier code, as assigned to the specific carrier by the CBSA,[1] and any combination of at least four and at most 21 additional Latin letters and Arabic digits. A carrier may use any valid letter-number combination providing only that any particular combination of carrier code and shipment number may not be reused within a prescribed period, typically three years but this varies by transport mode.

The CCN supplied must be provided in barcoded form using either the 3-of-9 or Code 128 symbol set.[2] It must be affixed to the first page of the invoice set describing each shipment. This usually involves affixing a preprinted label but cargo control documents may be generated with their CCN printed directly thereon. The barcoded CCN is scanned at the point of entry by the CBSA. If that CCN has been approved then its cargo is immediately released for entry into Canada. If the CCN is not approved then the shipment is not released and instead is sent to secondary inspection. Shipments involving a good regulated by other government departments are a common cause of non-approved releases.

In addition to the barcoded CCN the first page of the CCD for a PARS entry also must have the inscription PARS prominently displayed. This has led to the common practice of including the letters PARS in the cargo control number itself but this remains a user convenience and not a government requirement.[3]

If a presented CCN is not found in the CBSA's automated system then the carrier may be subject to an Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) for non-compliance.[4]

Pre-arrival Review System

When introduced the Pre-arrival Review System (PARS) allowed importers to submit release on minimum documentation (RMD) information to the CBSA for review and processing before their goods arrived in Canada. The documentary requirements for PARS release have steadily increased in detail and since June 1, 2012[5] the PARS system requires an EDI transmission to the CBSA of a detailed accounting and tariff classification for the entire shipment (the first 999 lines of the complete invoice).

The electronic transmission and exceptions to transmitting electronically when using the PARS release option are the same as for RMD. Goods that require permits, licences or certificates, including those commodities controlled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), can be processed using PARS. Provided the client submits the PARS request within the following time frames, the release recommendation will be ready by the time the goods arrive in Canada:

EDI: At least one hour before arrival. Paper: At least two hours before arrival.

Cargo and conveyance data may be transmitted up to 90 days in advance.[6] However, a PARS request may not be transmitted more than 30 calendar days prior to arrival.[7]

When the shipment arrives, the CBSA will release it within minutes unless an examination or further processing is required to meet another government department's regulation.

For details on line release, see Memorandum D17-1-4, Release of Commercial Goods.

As of April 1, 2008, the CBSA no longer accepts paper versions of RMD or PARS requests. There are certain exceptions to this requirement for which the client may submit a paper package with an exceptions lead sheet attached.

If these exceptions do not apply, a release request may be submitted with a Form B3 (type C), Canada Customs Coding Form, attached or the client may solicit the services of an EDI-capable broker.

'Release on minimum documentation (RMD)'

RMD allows importers to obtain release of their goods by presenting data for interim accounting. Full accounting data and payment are not required at the time of release but they are required within certain time frames. More information on accounting and payment can be found in Memorandum D17-1-5, Importing Commercial Goods.

The goal of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is to process complete and accurate release requests that do not require its officers to examine the goods or to review the permits, within the following times:

Electronic data interchange (EDI): 45 minutes EDI machine release: 5 minutes

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