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What Happens If A Package Is Seized By Customs Canada? Know The Answer Here!

Published: May 11, 2024
Author: Aman Chopra

Shipping something to Canada and having it seized by customs can be a real headache! But what does this mean for you, and what can you do about it? If you’re bothered by the same questions, you’re in the right place as we give you the answer. In this article, we’ll give you a closer look at what happens if a package is seized by Customs Canada. So, if you ever wonder about your package stuck in customs, keep reading to get straightforward answers.

Key Takeaways

  • If Canadian customs seizes your package, it’s best to contact them immediately to understand the reasons why. Then, take the necessary actions needed to have your packages approved for Canadian entry.

  • When entering packages from the US to Canada, always be honest about their contents. Also, ensure you provide complete and correct parcel documentation to avoid customs issues.

  • Shipping with a cross-border shipping expert, like Shippsy, can help you streamline the customs clearance process. This leads to smoother and more efficient shipping without experiencing delays.

What Happens If A Package Is Seized By CBSA?

Canada Border Services Agency signage

If the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) seizes your package, it means that they found suspicious contents or Canadian import violations. Here's what could happen next:

  • You will receive a notification - The CBSA will notify you or the seller about the package's seizure and its reasons. They will check what’s inside of the package to make sure that it does not go against the Canadian laws.

  • Legal Actions: The CBSA can penalize you or press criminal charges depending on the findings. Depending on the types of goods and circumstances, the penalty can range from 25% to 80% of the total item value.

  • You will lose your goods permanently: You and your shipping provider will be notified if the CBSA finds any illegal or restricted item in your box. If you fail to take the necessary actions within 30 days, they will either send the item back to the sender or properly dispose of them.

In some cases, if Canadian customs finds that the seized item follows import regulations, it can be released after you pay the necessary fees or duties.

Remember that if your package is seized, it's best to seek legal advice and cooperate with the CBSA to sort things out quickly.

Things To Do If A Package Is Seized

Package seizure isn't a dead-end for your shipment. It only means that the CBSA does the necessary work to ensure that all items entering the country are safe.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are the best things to do:

1. Contact CBSA

Woman's hands using a phone

It's crucial to contact customs immediately if you receive a notification about a package seizure. Reaching out to them will help you further understand the reasons. Plus, it will also help you determine how to get your package back or resolve any issues related to the seizure.

How To Contact Customs About A Package

You can contact the CBSA through:

  • Phone: You can contact Canadian customs at their toll-free number: 1-800-461-9999.

  • Email: The CBSA also offers an online client support contact form on their official website.

  • Visit in Person: If you prefer face-to-face communication, you can visit a local CBSA or customs office where your package was seized.

Remember to prepare helpful details on hand, like package information. Any documentation related to the shipment is also essential when contacting the CBSA about a seized package.


2. Appeal The Seizure Decision

You have the right to appeal if the CBSA takes your package. To do this, you can do the following:

Request A Review

Requesting a review to appeal a seized package involves formally asking the agency to reconsider its decision. To do so, contact the CBSA and inform them that you would like to request a review of the seizure decision. They may instruct you to submit a formal written request.

Write A Letter To CBSA Within 90 Days

Write a letter of request and provide specific details about the seized package. Also include necessary information like the tracking number, date of seizure, and the reason for the seizure.

Then, remember to include proof to support your claim that the contents of your package comply with Canadian laws and regulations. Also, express your desire to return the package or resolve the issue.

After sending your letter, keep your lines open for any response from the CBSA. If you don't get a response within a reasonable time frame, consider following up with them to inquire about the status of your request.

3. Contact Your Shipping Carrier

It's also a good idea to contact your shipping carrier right away. They can assist you with how to resolve the issue and provide you with the necessary package documentation. Your shipping provider can also help facilitate communication between you and the CBSA.

Staying in touch with your shipping carrier can help you stay informed about any developments and take appropriate actions to address the seizure effectively.

Do Customs Open Packages?

Yes, Canadian border services officers open packages coming into the country to ensure they follow Canadian import rules. This can happen because of random checks, x-ray scans, or if they think the package is risky.

Common Reasons Why A Package Is Seized By Canada Customs And How To Avoid Them

scanning barcodes of shipping boxes

To keep you from wondering why package seizure happens, learn the common reasons why they happen below:

1. Prohibited or Restricted Items

Canada customs seizes packages if they contain prohibited or restricted items from entering the country.

Prohibited items are things that are outright banned for Canadian entry, like weapons or illegal drugs. On the other hand, restricted items need special permits or licenses for entry, like plants or medication.

To ensure everyone follows the rules and keeps everyone safe, the CBSA keeps the package from illegal entry once they find prohibited or restricted items inside.

How To Avoid It: Review Canada Customs' Import Regulations

Reviewing Canada customs' import regulations is essential when shipping items to Canada. Doing so helps you know what you can safely ship to the country and avoid problems with customs clearance.

You can visit the CBSA's website to learn more about the guidelines or check out Shippsy's list of prohibited items for a quick reference.

2. Inaccurate or False Declaration

Red 'Delayed' mark on a paper

The CBSA seizes packages if they find incorrect details on what's inside a package or if you give false information about the contents. Inaccurate or false declarations can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and legal issues.

Accurate declaration is crucial because it helps a border services officer determine if the items meet Canadian regulations. It's important to be honest and transparent when declaring what's in a package to avoid problems with Canadian customs.

How To Avoid It: Ensure Complete and Accurate Documentation

You help ensure a smooth customs clearance process when you tell customs precisely what's in your package. Doing so allows them to quickly decide if the items can enter the country or if there are any fees to pay.

Always double-check all the details to ensure that you provide proper documentation. A spelling or digit mistake can cause an issue, so you must have a keen eye when going through the details.

If you don't give the correct information, it can cause delays, misunderstandings, and even legal issues. Being clear and honest about what you're sending helps things go smoothly and avoids problems with customs.

3. Missing Documentation

Aside from incorrect declaration, Canada customs also takes packages if they don't have all the needed paperwork. Having the proper documents, like an invoice or customs form, helps customs officers assess the following:

  • what's inside the package

  • how much it's worth

  • whether or not the contents comply with Canadian customs rules

These documents are necessary for them to check everything properly. Missing paperwork can cause delays and confusion with customs, so you need to ensure you have them ready when getting items from the US.

How To Avoid It: Provide Complete Paperwork

Having complete paperwork for customs clearance is important when shipping items to Canada. Providing all the needed documents helps avoid delays and problems with customs.

Doing so also shows that you're being honest and transparent, which makes the shipping process smoother and easier for everyone.

Here's how you can ensure that you have all the required paperwork for customs clearance:

  • Check The Requirements - Review the CBSA's website or contact them directly to understand the documents needed for your shipment.

  • Compile Documents - Gather all necessary documents, such as invoices, packing lists, and customs declaration forms.

  • Double-check - Review the documents to ensure all information is correct, including item descriptions, values, and quantities. Make sure there are no missing or incomplete sections.

  • Organize The Paperwork - Organize the documents neatly and securely and attach them to the outside of the package or include them inside an envelope attached to the package.

  • Keep Copies - Make copies of all the documents for your records. This can be useful in case any questions or issues arise during the customs clearance process.

Ship With A Reliable Shipping Carrier

A delivery truck filled with packages outside a warehouse

If you're shipping items from the US, it's always better to work with a reliable shipping carrier. Their cross-border shipping expertise can help you deeply understand the import regulations and documentation. This can reduce the risk of delays or customs issues.

For Canadian online shoppers, this means a smoother and hassle-free shipping process. With their help, you can avoid surprises at the border and unexpected fees or duties. Partnering with a dependable shipping provider can make cross-border shopping and shipping much more convenient and enjoyable.

Ship With Shippsy

If you are still looking for the right shipping provider, consider shipping with Shippsy.

Shippsy is committed to providing Canadians with high-quality package forwarding services without breaking the bank. They ensure that Canadian online shoppers do not have to deal with a lot because they will handle the customs clearance process on your behalf.

Plus, with the super affordable shipping rates, you can shop more while spending less on your US-to-Canada shipments. A discount even awaits if you ship three or more packages on the same day! Please see Shippsy's pricing page for more details.

So, shop online at your favourite US retailer today and only ship it with the best - Shippsy.

Create Your Shippsy Account

Final Thoughts

Dealing with Canadian customs can be tricky, but understanding the process and being prepared makes a lot of difference. When shipping items from the US, remember to be honest about what's inside and ensure you have all the right paperwork.

Or, to make things faster and smoother, use a trusted shipping service like Shippsy. Keep these tips in mind, stay proactive, and enjoy hassle-free cross-border shopping!


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