Become a Customs Broker In Canada
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How to Become a Customs Broker In Canada in 4 Steps

Do you wish to become a customs broker in Canada? This page explores all you need to know about customs brokers in Canada and how to become a customs broker in Canada.

Due to the increasing amount of goods shipped in, out, and across Canada, customs brokers are a vital part of the shipping industry. A customs broker clears shipments of all imported goods, prepares required documents for export shipments, and acts as an intermediary between the government and the importers by helping shipping companies with legislation processes.

Therefore, If you are interested in becoming a customs broker, it helps first to understand the responsibilities and need to pursue this career path. In this article, we explain the duties of customs brokers and the steps to becoming one.

Who is a Customs Broker in Canada?

A customs broker is an individual, partnership, or corporation that acts as an agent to transact business with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on behalf of the owner or importer of goods. They can assist with all necessary documentation, duties, taxes, and payments.

Therefore, Shipments that do not meet customs requirements can be held indefinitely at the shipper’s expense or even confiscated. If you are unsure if your shipment meets all requirements for customs clearance, hiring a customs broker can be an economical choice.

What Does a Customs Broker Do?

Before becoming a customs broker, it helps to understand their functions and duties. Some typical responsibilities of customs brokers are stated below:

  • Like a lawyer representing clients in court, a customs broker represents businesses at the Canadian border. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) gives a customs broker license to individuals specially trained to work with companies and individuals, ensuring that their imports comply with regulations and clear the border without delays. There are strict guidelines and laws by the CBSA, and a customs broker is thoroughly trained and prepared to follow them. They are experts on Canada’s complex and ever-changing import regulations.
  • Thousands of items cross the Canadian borders every day. Without customs brokers, this would not be possible! Importers and exporters are expected to understand all the regulations involved with customs, but in reality, there is a lot to know. Being on top of customs compliance while also managing a business is a headache many companies alleviate with the help of their broker.
  • It is the customs brokers’ job to arrange for payment of duties and taxes, process import and export documentation, follow customs regulations, sign documents, and clear customs on behalf of their clients. They also plan optimized routes, negotiate with transport companies and find the little places where you might be forgetting to collect on money-saving allowances. We think they are kind of like superheroes.
  • Providing organizations with information and paperwork helps them ship their goods out of the country and helps businesses import goods successfully by clearing customs.
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge about the latest tariffs and fees that Australian businesses must pay and ensuring compliance with biosecurity and other requirements.
  • Arranging permissions, licenses, or other approvals to ensure the smooth importation of particular goods.

Do I need a customs broker?

Now that you know what customs brokers do, it is essential to know if you need a customs broker. Here, we will review the situations where the services of a customs broker are most helpful.

#1. Commercial importing

Customs brokers smooth out the import process for your company. They are your representatives at the border – and work with the CBSA and handle face-to-face operations, so you don’t have to.

When you have high import rates, getting clearance at the border can be challenging, especially without sending someone for every shipment. However, with a customs broker, your imports are in good hands.

In addition, customs brokers pay duties as accurately as possible for every shipment. So if your company imports large quantities, this saves you a lot of money. Any customs broker fees you pay are investments that get you savings later on.

#2. Importing sensitive or regulated items

Trying to clear sensitive goods can be difficult and even risky for businesses. However, a customs broker’s expertise goes a long way when a minor oversight can cost your company its importing privileges.

Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, cars, arms, and tobacco require additional documentation, permits, and compliance with health and safety regulations. Customs brokers know how to navigate these complex regulations, helping you avoid complications and audits for such items.

Sometimes only a licensed customs broker can file particular declarations, such as when importing a car from the US into Canada. In these cases, the services of a customs broker are essential.

#3. Non-resident importing

Whether you’re right next door or across the world, residing outside Canada shouldn’t stop you from trading in the Canadian marketplace. With the help of a licensed customs broker, you don’t need to have a physical presence in the country to import goods into Canada.

As a non-resident importer, handing over operations at the border to a licensed customs broker protects your company from complications that might arise from unfamiliarity with Canadian import regulations.

#4. Customs audits

Random or not, being audited by the CBSA can be stressful. Auditors look for reasonable care in how imports are declared, and tariffs are paid at the border. You can ensure proper care by taking appropriate measures to comply with regulations.

This means that even if an error is found in the audit, the penalty you face may be reduced simply by employing the services of a licensed customs broker.

Additionally, customs brokers can perform internal assessments to prepare your company for the event of an actual audit. Finally, they advise you to strengthen your procedures to avoid fines and penalties.

Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB)

Founded in 1921 and headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) represents Canada’s customs brokers and actively seeks and achieves improvements in government policies and procedures on behalf of the members’ clients.

CSCB provides advice and guidance to Canadian and international regulators on new policy directions and develops partnerships throughout the industry to create effective business solutions for the future.

In addition, CSCB membership is available to all licensed Canadian customs brokers and is one of the most authoritative, respected organizations in Canada’s international trade community. The CSCB includes over 160 customs broker members, over 4,200 CCS (Certified Customs Specialist) designates, over 240 CTCS (Certified Trade Compliance Specialist) designates, and more than 700 students annually.

Steps to become a Customs Broker In Canada

Becoming a licensed customs broker requires taking specific steps. They include:

#Step 1. You must meet the educational qualifications

To be and successfully conduct a customs broker’s mandate, you must understand entry procedures, valuation, and entry requirements, among other duties of customs brokers. The industry is fast-paced and challenging and requires highly knowledgeable professionals who must stay updated on current national customs standards.

However, you can qualify for the job with a high school diploma. Employers usually prefer hiring people who have at least completed a degree program related to the industry and understand brokerage professionalism. For example, you can pursue a degree in transportation or business management.

#Step 2. You must pass the licensing exam

Applicants must apply in the ports where they want to practice customs brokerage. To qualify for the exam, you must provide proof that you meet the eligibility requirements, including a photo ID or proof of registration.

#Step 3. Submit a license application and pay permit fees

After passing the exam, the next move should be acquiring a work permit. Next, you may need to cater to the processing and fingerprint check fees. The fingerprint analysis helps the authorities investigate your background and review your character reference, arrest records, and credit check.

#Step 4. Plan for the application process

It can take up to six or more months to complete the license application process, depending on numerous factors. Some of the elements that affect the processing period include but are not limited to the following:

  • The various locations an applicant has lived in
  • The state of national security
  • The workload of background investigation agents

Therefore, to get the permit within the targeted period, consider applying far in advance when you want to start working.

How to Become a DJ in Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a customs broker require to have a Licence to operate in Canada?

A customs broker license, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency, is required for an individual or company to operate a customs brokerage business.

Which government body regulates a customs broker in Canada?

The government body that regulates a customs broker in Canada is CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency)


To achieve your dreams as a customs broker in Canada, you should know all it takes to become one. This article has been provided to help make your dream a success.

If you would like to become an apprentice in Canada, you can follow this link.

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