What is CARM?

by Sofia Spoltore, director of customs, C.H. Robinson

CARM stands for “CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management,” a multi-year, transformative initiative from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) designed to streamline and automate business processes and offer online self-service tools for imported commercial goods.

Focusing on four specific areas: innovation, project management, change enablement, and downstream managed service solutions, the CARM vision is to deliver a leading, customer-centric customs experience that facilitates trade, improves compliance and revenue collection, and contributes to securing Canada’s borders.

Why is the CBSA implementing CARM?

On average, the CBSA collects $32 billion dollars in taxes and duties each year, which is the second largest revenue collection means for the Government of Canada after the Canada Revenue Agency. As goods are imported into Canada, they require tracking and valuation to collect appropriate taxes and duties.

The processing of these goods creates substantial paperwork, computer entry, and other tracking and management work. As new technology becomes available and processes are streamlined, existing systems need updates to drive efficiency and align with changing industry standards.

As an IT-enabled system, CARM will modernize information requirements and systems, improving efficiency and making it easier to manage and track import goods.

What will CARM provide you, the Canadian importer?

The CARM Client Portal is the central feature of the CARM project. It will become the main communications interface between the CBSA and trade partners, offering full visibility and access to your import records and making it easy to submit duty and tax payments directly to the government.

Through the CARM Client Portal, importers will be able to access online self-service tools that provide visibility and management capabilities for tax accounts. Importers will be able to submit commercial accounting declarations and electronic corrections, make payments, and file advanced ruling requests.

Technology will replace laborious administrative tasks while ensuring accurate data transaction and management. In addition to 24/7 service access, mobile apps will allow small and medium-sized importers to make declarations, as well as provide access to compliance tools and resources.

What do you need to do now?

All Canadian importers and exporters will need to be fully integrated into this system by 2022, to ship in and out of Canada. Preparing now for the change in shipping processes can help you avoid challenges down the road.

To start, here are three primary tasks you should complete in the coming months:

  1. Enroll your business in the CARM Client Portal. A Government of Canada Key (GCKey) will be required to set up new user accounts.
  2. Delegate authority to your customs broker to allow them to perform import activities on your behalf.
  3. Establish a security bond. Under the Direct Security Bond mandate, importers must secure their commercial imports directly, rather than using their service provider’s bond.

Navigating the long-term changes

Beyond the initial implementation activities noted above, CARM will result in these changes:

  • A new electronic form called the Commercial Accounting Declaration (CAD) will replace the existing customs coding form (B3), adjustment request form (B2), and related processes.
  • Importers will be required to post financial security directly on their accounts to take advantage of Release Prior to Payment (RPP) privileges. Brokers will no longer be able to secure client accounts using their security. To facilitate this, various options will be available, including posting a cash or electronic bond.
  • A new billing cycle will be introduced to harmonize payment due dates for all transactions and simplify how accounting information can be corrected or adjusted.

Working with a provider during these changes

The information above is just the tip of the CARM iceberg. Don’t be intimidated by the vast amount of information but do work with providers who can help you sort through the changes to ensure a seamless transition.

CARM provides for capabilities to authorize external customs brokers to work on your behalf. Working with a dedicated service provider who offers a global suite of logistics services eliminates resource drain and allows your team to focus on growing your business. In addition to daily management of import activities, these providers can ensure you’re implementing CARM processes as they are released, helping to streamline your business activities and ensure smooth transitions.