CARM Certification Demystified: What Every Shipper Should Know about Their Broker

Change is on the horizon for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that will significantly impact how shippers and trade partners import commercial goods into Canada. Currently slated for October 2024, the CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) system will become the official Canadian import system of record - meaning that all importers must use it to pay duties and taxes. The new CARM system is part of a digital initiative to streamline and automate the import process and offer online self-service tools.

However, this change raises important questions for importers who may be wondering how this affects their business.

Your broker needs to be CARM-certified

As part of this mandatory transition, all trade chain partners that interface with the CBSA must register and link their business in the new CARM client portal. This includes brokers, who must be CARM-certified, in order to clear goods on behalf of importers.

Brokers play a key role in facilitating trade and ensuring compliance with customs regulations, and therefore every customs broker must go through testing to prove they can transmit data into the new CARM platform. This certification demonstrates that brokers understand these new CARM procedures and can comply with regulatory requirements.

C.H. Robinson is the first 3PL to receive CARM certification and is already helping shippers navigate this change.

Certification is easier with innovative technology and collaboration

Currently, many businesses using popular third-party customs software have yet to achieve CARM certification and have experienced difficulties integrating their platforms with the new system. CARM certification reflects a commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaborative relationships:

1. Proprietary software and customized solutions

Many brokers rely on off-the-shelf applications. Those who build proprietary technology are able to swiftly adapt to evolving customer demands and tailored solutions. This ensures efficiency, accuracy, and flexibility.

2. Close collaboration with CBSA

A close relationship with CBSA is pivotal, as systems are tested rigorously. Fostering open channels of communication and creating meaningful engagement ensures alignment with their expectations.

3. Security and stability

Having direct control over your technology ecosystem safeguards critical information and customer data. Relying on third-party vendors increases risks associated with external dependencies.

Know your broker’s CARM certification status

Canada has significant projected growth ahead, but if brokers aren’t CARM-certified, that can hinder importers from accounting for their goods and growing into Canada. Importers should start verifying if their customs broker is CARM-certified to prevent any last-minute delays and interruptions at the border.

Still not registered? Complete the three-step process

The transition to CARM can take approximately three months to complete, so shippers should act now to ensure no interruption at system launch. To become CARM compliant, importers must complete three tasks to prepare for the upcoming release:

Step 1: Register your business on the CARM Client Portal

The CARM Client Portal is the new communications hub between the CBSA and trade partners. Importers can acquire a GCKey or use a sign-in partner to enroll their business and set up a user account in the portal.

Step 2: Delegate authority to a certified customs broker

To import into Canada, you will need to delegate authority to a CARM-certified customs broker or service provider like C.H. Robinson. This will allow brokers to continue to act on behalf of importers once the system launches. A broker can also collaborate with importers to remain in compliance with new CARM customs procedures and regulatory requirements so that they have peace of mind upon release.

Step 3: Establish a direct security bond

A new change under CARM requires importers post their own financial security to take advantage of the Release Prior to Payment (RPP) program. This means importers will no longer be able to rely on their customs broker’s financial security. Various options are available, including posting a cash or electronic bond. Work with your Canadian customs broker or a surety company to obtain a direct security bond to establish your payment privileges.

Prepare for change with the CARM Release 2 

Currently scheduled for October 2024, all future import processes will be handled in the CARM Client Portal, which will result in several long-lasting changes intended to streamline the import process. One change planned for release is the implementation of a new electronic form known as the Commercial Accounting Declaration (CAD), which will change the process of accounting for goods into Canada. Importers can also expect harmonized billing cycles for all transactions, simplifying how accounting information can be corrected and adjusted.

To navigate these changes, importers should connect with their customs broker to make sure they are fully prepared for implementation. C.H. Robinson is one of only three brokers who prepared for the initial implementation deadline of May 2024. Thanks to the flexibility of our Navisphere® customs platform and our ongoing collaboration with the CBSA, we are already helping importers get acclimated to the new platform and criteria so that they continue their business with confidence. Connect with one of our experts today to see how we can help you. 

For more information on CARM, its benefits, and video tutorials, visit C.H. Robinson’s CARM web page and the CBSA website.

Sofia Spoltore
Vice President Global Forwarding Canada
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