If the Canada Border Services Agency ("CBSA") has made
an error during a tariff classification verification, the importer
may file a request for re-determination to appeal the assessment of
duties. In most cases, the CBSA changes the tariff classification
from duty-free (i.e., 0%) to a higher duty rate (e.g., 10%) and
issues a detailed adjustment statement charging the additional
duties and interest.
If you believe the assessment is incorrect and/or the CBSA
misunderstood the facts or ignored relevant facts, you may file a
request for re-determination (an appeal). You must file the request
for re-determination within 90 days of the date on
the detailed adjustment statement. Do not miss this deadline. While
there are exceptional circumstances that would allow a late filed
request for re-determination, it is best to not have to prove that
you meet the limited criteria.
You file the request for re-determination by completing a B2 "Adjustment Request". If there is
more than one detailed adjustment statement, you will have to
complete more than one form. The B2 form must match with the
original B3 "Customs Coding Form". The CBSA has one year
to review the request for determination and make a decision.
Make sure that you provide reasons for the request for
re-determination. If there isn't enough room in the B2
"Adjustment Request" form, file an attached schedule. If
you would like to resolve the issues more quickly, put your best
arguments forward in a clear and concise manner. Let the appeals
officer understand your point of view and evidence in support of
your position. A common mistake that we see is that the importer
has a customs broker file the B2 "Adjustment Request"
form without providing clear information for the CBSA to consider.
A mere "you are wrong" is not sufficient to prove your
You must pay the amount of duties and interest owing as stated
on the detailed adjustment statement or the CBSA may detain future
imports of goods – they have ways to make you pay.
If the CBSA does not change their minds about the tariff
classification, you may file an appeal with the Canadian
International Trade Tribunal ("CITT") within 90
days of the adverse decision of the CBSA. Do not miss this
deadline. The initial appeal is relatively simple. An appeal may be
in the form of a simple letter to the Registrar of the CITT. The
notice of appeal or appeal letter must state the appellant's
intentions and be accompanied by a copy of the assessment,
reassessment, rejection, decision, determination or
re-determination, as the case may be, from which the appeal is
launched. You should provide the CITT with sufficient information
to identify (1) the appellant, (2) the applicable statutory
provisions, (3) the date of the CBSA decision being appealed, (4)
the detailed adjustment statements at issue and (5) a brief
indication of the issues to be decided. This can be done in a
letter to the Registrar of the CITT.
However, within 60 days, you must file an
Appellant's Brief. This document must set out all the relevant
facts, the law, and arguments. You must file your supporting
evidence that the CITT is to consider. The Appellant's Brief
takes planning (as you may need expert evidence or test reports).
This document takes time to prepare – good arguments are
drafted and redrafted. Based on our experience, if the
Appellant's Brief can show the Department of Justice lawyer the
weaknesses in their case, they may settle prior to having to file
the Respondent's Brief. You may also wish to file physical
exhibits so that the CITT can see what is the good at issue.
You should know the case you wish to present as early as the
request for re-determination. You should have your evidence plan in
the works at this stage. If you wait until the CITT hearing, you
may find that the CITT does not accept your evidence. If you do not
make certain arguments in the Appellant's Brief, you may be
precluded from arguing certain points later (e.g. in argument at
So, plan your litigation strategy as early as possible and stay
organized from the point of the initial verification by the CBSA.
Seek help in preparing written representations and the available
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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