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CBSA annouces finalization, implementation of System Outage Contingency Plan

OTTAWA, Ont.–The Canada Border Services Agency has announced the finalization and implementation of its System Outage Contingency Plan.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) System Outage Contingency Plan sets out the procedures for importing goods in the commercial stream that clients, including carriers, brokers/importers, freight forwarders and warehouse operators, may follow in the event of a CBSA system outage. This contingency plan is an alternative to the general procedures for the reporting of goods, in bond movements, release of goods and final accounting.  This contingency plan is applicable only in circumstances where system outages have occurred, said the agency.

An outage is defined as “A temporary suspension of operation to the electronic systems”.  Throughout this document, the term “client” refers to any external trade chain partner (TCP), including carriers, importers, freight forwarders, warehouse operators, agents and third-party service providers. The scope of this contingency plan includes both CBSA and Client systems outages (full and partial) affecting the ability for clients to submit/receive and CBSA to electronically process trade documents and outgoing notices and messages.

Stakeholders should know that improvements to facilitate and automate manual processes are already being discussed and developed for continual future incorporation as they become viable

The CBSA recommended contingency processes outlined in this document are based on the following key principles:

  • Outages lasting more than one hour should revert to contingency plans as invoked via hotline and bulletins communication protocols.  However, the CBSA and/or clients may choose to revert to a contingency plan sooner or as business lines and operations dictate; Outages lasting days should revert to CBSA business continuity plan;
  • Cargo and conveyance data can be transmitted up to 30 days (and will be changed to 90 when Build 2 rolls out) prior to arrival;
  • Clients are required to submit all trade documents, processed via the contingency process, electronically once the outage is resolved – thus the recommendation throughout the plan to continue transmission of electronic data for queuing to the extent possible;
  • Clients are encouraged to put in place their own contingency processes that will allow them to continue processing Advance Commercial Information (ACI) electronically for partial outage scenarios.  For example; if feasible, using the eManifest portal, contracting the services of an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) service provider etc.
  • When utilizing another contingency method clients must keep in mind:
    • All outgoing communication for trade documents submitted through EDI is sent back to the client through EDI as well as posted in the eManifest portal; and
    • All outgoing communication for trade documents submitted through the eManifest portal is only sent back to the client through the eManifest portal, even if you are an EDI client.
    • Electronic communication options may include the following: (provided the client is already set up) and depending on the outage scenario (i.e. whether functionality remains):
      • Customs Internet Gateway
      • Value Added Network
      • Direct Connect
      • Service provider
      • eManifest Portal
    • In scenarios where the client has opted not to transmit the ACI information via an alternate method of electronic communication or it is not possible, the client should transmit the ACI information within 24 hours once the system functionality is restored.  ACI information includes cargo, conveyance, house bills, Bay plan, releases and conveyance arrival messaging:
    • When outbound processing for client messages is not functioning or there are backlogs preventing clients from receiving the outbound messages, and the goods are being moved towards the border, clients are expected to assume the information submitted was received without error and is acceptable,OR use an alternate method to obtain outgoing messages e.g. eManifest portal OR contact the CBSA hotline;
    • The CBSA recommends that clients transmit data to the CBSA at least 90 minutes prior to the start time of any scheduled outage to ensure that pre-arrival transmission timelines are met for all eManifest shipments expected to arrive at the border during the outage;
    • The CBSA will attempt to process shipments in a timely manner during contingency plan situations where the ACI data was not able to be transmitted electronically and the client had to revert to contingency processes at the First Port of Arrival (FPOA), however, service standard levels may not be met due to high volumes, and operational conditions;
    • CBSA will process electronic transmissions as soon as possible once systems have been restored; and
    • Regardless of outage condition, requirements of OGDs/PGAs, e.g. permits, certificate, etc., must be presented in order for shipments to be release.

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