Canada’s Single Window Initiative

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Written by: John Moccia, Regulatory Affairs, Canada

In Canada, the plan for a Customs Single Window Initiative to facilitate the exchange of trade-related information and documents has finally progressed from concept to implementation. A changing border management environment is the main driver for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to implement the Single Window Initiative (SWI). Specifically, the exponential growth involving new products, the increase in the requirements of other government departments (OGDs), the shift to paperless environments, and the need to effectively balance security while facilitating trade.

The CBSA administers, or assists in the administration of, numerous pieces of legislation that fall under the responsibility of OGDs. The Customs Act provides the CBSA with the legislative authority to control and detain goods on behalf of other government departments and further allows CBSA to share information collected for customs purposes with its OGD partners.

Facilitating the flow of information

The basic concept of a single window focuses on data standardization and process simplification. This need for the seamless free flow of goods has existed for quite some time. The SWI reflects a commitment made by Canada and the United States under the Beyond the Border Action Plan to reduce administrative burdens. It is intended, in part, to improve control at the border by better identifying goods with import requirements, validating permits and enabling CBSA to exchange information with other government agencies in an effort to better manage risk.

The CBSA, along with nine other OGDs are currently participating in the single window initiative, which provides custom brokers with a single point of entry for the electronic reporting of information for both regulated and non-regulated goods. In turn, the CBSA will transmit the information to the appropriate department or agency responsible for those regulated goods. These departments and agencies will assess the information and provide any required border-related decisions. Livingston International is currently the only customs broker actively reporting and releasing shipments through the SWI.

Data flowing through the SWI

Customs Notice 17-09 notes the following Participating Government Departments and Agencies programs are available through the SWI:

  •   Global Affairs Canada (previously Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada)
    • Import Controls of Agricultural, Steel, and Textiles and Clothing Products
  • Health Canada
    • Importation of Consumer Products, Cosmetics, Radiation Emitting Devices and Pest Control Products
    • Importation of Human Drugs, Natural Health Products, and Medical Devices Regulated by the Food and Drugs Act
    • Importation of Controlled Substances and Precursors
  • Natural Resources Canada
    • Importation of Energy-using Products
    • Kimberley Process (Import of Rough Diamonds)
    • Explosives
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
    • Importation of Human and Terrestrial Animal Pathogens and Biological Toxins
  • Transport Canada
    • Importation of Vehicles and Tires
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
    • Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material
    • Vehicle and Engine Emissions, Ozone Depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives, and Wildlife Enforcement
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    • Commercial importation of aquatic species under the Aquatic Biotechnology, Aquatic Invasive Species and Trade Tracking (Fisheries Resource Management) Programs
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Import Program (Nuclear Substances and Equipment)

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