How soon will my shipment be released?

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Assuming your shipment is eligible for release, the preparation of customs entry documents and the submission of a release request do not take long (in most cases, within an hour). What is impossible to predict is the response (and response time) of Customs itself.

Typical Customs response times:

  • 90% released instantly or within 2-3 hours (depending on Customs EDI processing times)
  • 10% delayed for additional information or examination (examination referrals can take 1-2 business days)

Border Bee offers an e-mail notification system for importers so they will be alerted as soon as their shipment is released.

What is a tariff classification and where can I find it?

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Customs classification, also known as an ‘HS code’, is a 10-digit number that identifies the product you are importing (often to a very specific degree). It is essential for the following reasons:

  • identifying admissible and inadmissible goods
  • calculating duty-rates
  • statistical record-keeping

Canada’s tariff can be found on the CBSA’s website, however Border Bee strongly recommends contacting a customs broker for¬†assisting in classifying your products for new importers.

Someone is asking me for an Original Bill of Lading? What is this?

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An Original Bill of Lading (or ‘OBL’ for short) is an original copy of the shipping documents for your order. It will be sent to you separately (and hopefully in advance) of the rest of your shipment.

These original documents represent Title to your order and will need to be ‘surrendered’ to the transporter before your goods can be collected, so don’t throw them in the trash! Instead, forward them to your customs broker or freight forwarder as early as possible.


Ecommerce, Customs and You provides answers to your questions on importing goods, written by the Border Bee staff.

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