University of Saskatchewan

Financial Services Division (FSD)

Customs and Brokerage Information

In comparison to the corporate sector and, because of the range of goods imported and exported, universities are considered to be the most complex of entities when it comes to dealing with customs requirements.  This range of goods varies all the time and includes many one time orders of specialized equipment from numerous suppliers.  Further, many of the goods are controlled substances, agricultural products and biologicals, so there are a host of other regulatory agency compliance issues to consider.  The activities of a university are diverse; goods can be used for teaching, research, manufacturing or retail operations, all of which have an impact on how the goods are ordered and ultimately cleared through the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

The University of Saskatchewan, as the Importer of Record, is responsible for customs clearance of goods crossing the Canadian border.  All goods, including provision of services, destined for the university are reported to CBSA through a customs broker.  Power of attorney to clear customs shipments, prepare customs documentation, and pay duties and taxes on our behalf has been assigned to the university's contracted customs broker - Thompson, Ahern & Co. Ltd. (TACO).  TACO coordinates with university client departments to ensure that university shipments are cleared and released according to regulatory requirements. 

In recent years, both the Canadian and American governments have redefined the relationship between customs and the importers / exporters.  As an importer and exporter, new customs policies have broadened responsibilities regarding the legal obligation to properly account for all imports and exports.  Customs regulations are enforced via the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) as a means of ensuring greater border security.

AMPS allows CBSA to penalize not only importers, but also suppliers, exporters, carriers and customs brokers who are not in compliance.  Previous sanctions for customs violations took the form of seizures, ascertained forfeiture and criminal prosecution.  AMPS on the other hand, provides for a system of graduated fines that is meant to be more flexible and fair. 

Clearing your shipments through customs has never been more complex.  Even minor errors and oversights can attract hefty AMPS fines and result in costly shipment delays.

Similarly, goods shipped from the university to destinations outside of Canada may have specific documentation requirements, depending on the country.

Problem Areas

Valuation - Many goods are purposely undervalued by the shipper who think they are doing us a favour or don't know Canadian customs regulations.  These can include books or manuscripts for review, x-rays, gifts, awards, software, samples and unsolicited "free" goods.

Samples and "Free" Goods - These types of goods are difficult to monitor and control, but must be treated the same as any commercial goods.  See Samples and "Free" Goods - Customs Requirements.

Personal shipments - The university is held legally responsible for all shipments originating outside Canada and addressed to the University of Saskatchewan.  Failure to meet customs compliance could result in a suspension of the university's import and export privileges.  See Shipping Personal Goods from Outside Canada to the University of Saskatchewan.

How can you avoid AMPS penalties?

Effective management of the customs process is a shared responsibility.  Listed below are ways in which YOU can help to avoid AMPS penalties:

Simply put, CBSA wants to see that what was ordered matches with what was declared and what was received and paid for.  Any discrepancies, including returned goods due to errors or damage, require a customs amendment and should be reported to Purchasing Services.

Key Links

Contacts for further information:

University of Saskatchewan
Purchasing Services
Joanne Borys
Tel:       (306) 966-6713
Email:   joanne.borys@usask.ca

Thompson, Ahern & Co. Ltd.
6299 Airport Road, Suite 506
Mississauga, ON L4V 1N3
Tel: 1-866-778-4460
Tax: 1-866-769-4760
Email: usask@taco.ca