Customs authorities functions

The Role of Customs Authorities

Some time ago, the primary goal of customs, regardless of the country, was to collect revenue for the government. However, with the industrialization of countries and increased competition from global markets, other goals have been added:

  • Protection of industries in each country. This protection has been achieved through the addition of tariff and non-tariff barriers such as quotas, permits and various regulations; through the application of Canada’s trade policies including, among other things, the collection of duties and trade data. Canada’s trade policies are intended to increase the competitiveness of Canadian industries in global markets by introducing legislation to reduce or eliminate tariffs.
  • Border protection. Customs must enforce the many laws that govern the arrival of goods and travellers and, where applicable, ensure that the requirements of other government departments are met with respect to the importation of certain goods. These measures are meant to protect the environment, health and safety of Canadians.

The collection of duties remains, but is no longer as important a function as in the past, due to the reduction or, in some cases, the elimination of tariffs. These reductions are often the result of trade agreements between Canada and other countries or special measures under Canadian law.

Rates may go down or disappear, but the determination to protect national interests remains. This is often seen in trade disputes between member countries of the World Trade Organization over agriculture or the difficulties faced between Canada and the United States in the interpretation of some of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s terms. Removing non-tariff barriers seems more difficult than removing tariffs.

Although the collection of duties has become a secondary function, this aspect of customs remains, nevertheless, very important. We have to remember that customs is a government service that continues to enforce the laws and impose the applicable sanctions and penalties. Errors or omissions can be very costly!

In summary, the presence of customs at the border helps to:

  • Control the illegal entry of goods into Canada
  • Prohibit the entry of goods that may endanger our health, environment or agriculture, and 
  • Improve our competitiveness by managing trade agreements and import and export policies

Please note that all information on this blog is subject to change. All blog articles are for information purposes only. We are always available to answer in detail any questions our clients may have regarding the information in this blog.

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About the author
With over 35 years of experience in the customs field, Yves Lacelle has a very thorough understanding of everything related to this environment. His meetings with companies from all over the world have allowed him to acquire an extensive knowledge of international trade. He has given several seminars and customs training courses to companies and has found solutions for clients having problems with customs authorities. Guiding a team to provide the best customer service bears no secrets for Yves. His ability to communicate and educate his business partners makes him a golden ally for those who aspire to comply with customs regulations.