Customs recordal system

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the federal organisation responsible for policing Canada's borders, recently issued a customs notice (CN17-27) to advise the public and rights holders that its Border Watch hotline now accepts information and tips on dangerous counterfeit or pirated goods that are destined for Canada.(1)


Rights holders that learn of incoming shipments of counterfeit or pirated goods that represent a health, safety or security threat can alert the CBSA through its dedicated and confidential hotline. The hotline is a fast and effective way to prevent the entry into Canada of counterfeit or pirated goods that will damage a rights holder's brand and threaten public health and safety.

The CBSA will inspect the goods upon arrival and, if considered dangerous, detain them at the border. The CBSA may also enlist the help of relevant federal departments or organisations, such as:

  • Health Canada, where – for example – the counterfeit goods are pharmaceutical products that are not approved for sale in Canada; or
  • the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, where the goods represent a security threat to Canadians.

This mechanism may also assist rights holders in defending against parallel imports or grey market goods in Canada.

Rights holders may alert the CBSA to an incoming shipment by providing:

  • a description of the goods and their intended end use;
  • the reason why the goods are dangerous and supporting documentary evidence;
  • the countries of origin and export;
  • the names and addresses of the exporter, shipper, importer or consignee; or
  • the mode of transport, expected date of arrival and port of entry.

Rights holders need not provide the CBSA with affidavits or sworn statements including this information; rather, they may contact the CBSA by phone through its dedicated hotline to provide it with any of the above information. The calls – and the callers' identities – will be kept confidential.

Customs recordal system

This hotline is yet another tool available to rights holders that wish to protect their brands in Canada. The government previously introduced a system whereby trademark and copyright owners may record their rights with the CBSA, which will then detain any commercial shipments suspected of containing counterfeit or pirated goods bearing or containing the rights holders' marks or works. The CBSA will also share with rights holders certain information about the shipments and their exporters, shippers, importers and consignees (as applicable), so that rights holders can commence suitable court proceedings. However, in order to take advantage of this customs recordal system, a right holder's marks must be registered in Canada or be the subject of copyright protection, as unregistered trademarks cannot be recorded with the CBSA.

For further information on this topic please contact Graham Hood at Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh by telephone (+1 416 593 5514) or email ([email protected]). The Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh website can be accessed at


(1) The CBSA's Border Watch toll-free hotline may be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-502-9060 within the United States and Canada. The hotline is available in both English and French.