Canada Border Services Agency: Wikis


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Canada Border Services Agency
Agence des services frontaliers du Canada
Common name Border Services
Abbreviation CBSA/ASFC
CBSA Flash.jpg
Uniform Shoulder Patch of BSO Officers
Canadaborder logo.png
Federal Identity of CBSA
Agency overview
Formed December 12, 2003
Preceding agency Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Employees 12,000+
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Canada
Governing body Public Safety Canada
Constituting instruments
General nature
Operational structure
Elected officer responsible Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety
Agency executive Stephen Rigby, President
CBSA Homepage

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) (French: Agence des services frontaliers du Canada - ASFC) is a federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for border guard and customs services.

The Agency was created on December 12, 2003 (the same day Paul Martin became Prime Minister of Canada), by an order-in-council amalgamating Canada Customs (from the now-defunct Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) with border and enforcement personnel from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The agency's creation was formalized by the Canada Border Services Agency Act which received Royal Assent on November 3, 2005. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, Canada's border operations have placed a dramatic new emphasis on national security and public safety. The Canada-United States Smart Border Declaration created by John Manley and Tom Ridge has provided objectives for co-operation between Canadian and American border operations.

The CBSA oversees approximately 1,200 service locations across Canada, and 39 in other countries. It employs over 12,000 public servants, and offers round-the-clock service at 61 land border crossings and nine international airports.[1]

They also oversee operations at three major sea ports, and three mail centres. It also operates detention facilities in Laval, Toronto, Kingston and Vancouver.

The CBSA also operates an Inland Enforcement branch, which tracks down and removes inadmissible foreign nationals. Inland Enforcement Officers are plainclothes units, and are armed with the same sidearm (PX4 Storm) as port of entry Border Services Officers.



Prior to 2003, border security in Canada was handled by three legacy agencies:

The CBSA was created in an attempt to address issues found in a review by the Auditor General including an inability to share certain security information and shortcomings in inter-agency communication.[2]


The Agency's legislative, regulatory and partnership responsibilities include the following:[3]

  • Administering legislation that governs the admissibility of people and goods, plants and animals into and out of Canada
  • Detaining those people who may pose a threat to Canada
  • Removing people who are inadmissible to Canada, including those involved in terrorism, organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanity
  • Interdicting illegal goods entering or leaving the country
  • Protecting food safety, plant and animal health, and Canada's resource base
  • Promoting Canadian business and economic benefits by administering trade legislation and trade agreements to meet Canada's international obligations
  • Enforcing trade remedies that help protect Canadian industry from the injurious effects of dumped and subsidized imported goods
  • Administering a fair and impartial redress mechanism
  • Promoting Canadian interests in various international forums and with international organizations
  • Collecting applicable duties and taxes on imported goods

Border Services Officer

A Border Services Officer (BSO) is a federal law enforcement agent employed by the Canada Border Services Agency. BSOs are designated peace officers , and primarily enforce customs and immigration-related legislation, in particular the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as well as over 90 other Acts of Parliament. Because of their peace officer designation, they also have the power to enforce other Acts of Parliament, including the Criminal Code of Canada. Border Services Officers are equipped with handcuffs, oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, batons, and are currently being armed with Beretta PX4 Storm pistols. The arming initiative will cover most officers in Canada over the next 10 years.

Border Services Officers are trained at the CBSA Learning Centre, located in Rigaud, Quebec. The training begins with 4 weeks done online called Pre-POERT and then a 12-week program called Port of Entry Recruit Training (POERT), which covers a range of topics from criminal law to customs legislations. Followed by four weeks on the job "Field Coaching" and another three weeks of training called "In Service Post POERT".

Changes to the CBSA

Since the creation of the Agency in 2003, the CBSA has undergone significant changes to its overall structure as services previously offered by different agencies are now housed under a single banner. Not only has the structure of the organization changed, but the range of duties and the institutional priorities have changed. Where the prior coupling of Canada Customs with the Canada Revenue Agency lent itself to a focus on tax collection, the new Agency was created to address heightened security concerns post-9/11, and to respond to criticisms, mostly from the United States, that Canada was not doing enough to ensure the security of North America.

Substantial changes began before the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. In May 1998, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-18, which changed agency policy to allow the officers to arrest and detain individuals at the border for non-customs related violations of Canadian law. These new responsibilities led to the implementation of use of force policies. Border Services Officers across Canada started to carry collapsible batons, OC spray and handcuffs. The 2006 Canadian federal budget introduced $101 million to equip CBSA officers with side arms and to eliminate single-person border crossings to help officers perform their duties. The decision to arm BSOs has been a subject of some controversy in Canada for several years, but the idea has had the support of other law enforcement agencies as well as the union that represents the affected officers.

In August 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that arming BSOs would begin in early 2007 and would continue over the next 10 years. Some of the first officers to be armed will be those working at the Windsor, Ontario port of entry, the busiest highway port of entry in Canada. Arming at the other Ports of Entry across Canada is being conducted systematically with those Ports considered the busiest and/or most dangerous to be completed first. At this time it has not been decided when, and if, officers at airports will be armed. It has been officially confirmed that CBSA officers will be armed with the 9mm Beretta Px4 Storm.

Current CBSA Structure

  • Minister of Public Safety
    • President
      • Executive Vice-President
        • Vice President, Strategy and Coordination
        • Vice President, Admissibility
        • Vice President, Enforcement
        • Vice President, Operations
          • Regional Director General, Atlantic Region
          • Regional Director General, Quebec Region
          • Regional Director General, Greater Toronto Area Region
          • Regional Director General, Northern Ontario Region
          • Regional Director General, Niagara Falls/Fort Erie Region
          • Regional Director General, Windsor/ St. Clair Region
          • Regional Director General, Prairie Region
          • Regional Director General, Pacific Region
        • Vice President, Human Resources
        • Vice President, Innovation, Science and Technology
        • Vice President, Comptrollership

Immigration to Canada

The CBSA plays a key role in immigration to Canada, as it has assumed the port-of-entry and enforcement mandates formerly held by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. CBSA officers work on the front lines, screening persons entering the country and removing those who are unlawfully in Canada.

As of the end of 2003 there are up to 200,000 illegal immigrants in Canada (most residing in Ontario). Most are refugee claimants whose refugee applications were rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.[4] There are very few illegal immigrants who enter the country without first being admitted by the CBSA. The reason for this is that Canada is physically very difficult to get to, with the exception of crossing the Canada/U.S. border. As the U.S. is itself a prime destination for illegal immigrants, not many illegal immigrants then attempt to cross the border into Canada in the wild. This differs significantly from the illegal immigration patterns in the U.S., which stem from illegal border crossings.

Examinations, searches and seizures

All persons and goods entering Canada are subject to examination by CBSA officers. An examination can be as simple as a few questions, but can also include an examination of the subject's vehicle and/or luggage, more intensive questioning, or personal searches. The intensity of an examination depends on the reasonable grounds that the officer has to escalate the intensiveness of a search.

Examinations are performed to ensure compliance with Customs and Immigration legislation. CBSA officers are given their authority by the Customs Act[5] and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In addition, BSOs are also able to enforce other Acts of Parliament as they are designated as Peace Officers under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The agency will also seize items it labels obscene, as it did in February 2009 when it detained and banned two films by the adult film director Michael Lucas.[6] The CBSA's Policy On The Classification Of Obscene Material states that the "ingestion of someone else's urine... with a sexual purpose" makes a film obscene.[7]

Intelligence and Enforcement-oriented programs and initiatives


The Canada Border Services Agency maintains a robust and comprehensive Intelligence program, which is mandated to provide timely, accurate and relevant intelligence support to operational decision makers at all levels within the Agency. Information is lawfully collected from a variety of sources, including open and closed source materials, domestic and international intelligence partners, joint operations with other law enforcement agencies, sophisticated technical means, covert surveillance, and informants/human intelligence. Intelligence officers and analysts are deployed within Canada - along the borders and throughout the country - as well as overseas.

The CBSA turns the information it collects into intelligence by using automated risk analysis, analytical tools, and risk management. This allows it to work toward its objective of balancing security concerns with the need to facilitate the flow of people and goods. The Agency seeks to manage risks through a number of means, including the collection and analysis of intelligence information, the use of detection tools, the analysis of indicators and judgment of front-line officers, and random checks.

Threat and risk assessments are widely recognized as valuable decision-making tools when setting examination priorities. The Agency's intelligence directorate conducts a border risk assessment of its border operations every 2-3 years. Under this process, the Agency assesses the risks of smuggling contraband, such as drugs, firearms, proceeds of crime, child pornography, illicit tobacco etc. The information is assessed and ranked by commodity and by mode of transport. The Agency will include the risks of irregular or illegal migration of people, and the movement of food, plants, and animals, now under the Agency's broader mandate, in the next version of its border risk assessment.

The Agency also prepares a national port risk assessment every two years. The Agency assessed the relative risk to 168 ports of entry in 2006 and 220 in 2004. Regional intelligence analysts, in consultation with other sources and port operational staff, complete a questionnaire detailing port demographics, traffic volume, enforcement, and intelligence information. The 2006 risk assessment ranked 23 ports as high-risk and included information on suspected criminal and national security risks, as well as the risk of irregular or illegal migration of people.

In addition to the border and port risk assessment processes, the intelligence directorate provides daily, weekly and monthly updates on specific threats and trends in unlawful activities. Intelligence officers and analysts frequently participate in tactical and operational law enforcement activities such as search warrants, arrests, surveillance, the recruitment and retention of confidential informers, interviews of detainees and the analysis of seized goods and evidence.

Border Watch

The CBSA Border Watch toll free info line offers citizens the opportunity to report suspicious cross border activity directly to the Agency in a direct and confidential manner. The Border Watch line differs from other phone lines for the public, such as Crimestoppers or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police info line in that it is designed to focus directly on border-related intelligence.

The toll free number is 1-888-502-9060.

Smart Border Declaration and Action Plan

The Smart Border Declaration and Action Plan, also known as the Smart Border Accord, was signed in 2001 and is an initiative of the Government of Canada, specifically the CBSA, RCMP and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Government of the United States, specifically the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection and the United States Coast Guard. The two major signatories to the Declaration were Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and then-US Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.

The Accord was set up in order to facilitate the cross-border flow of travellers and goods, while co-ordinating enforcement efforts in the two countries.

The Accord consists of 30 points of common interest[8] to improve both security and trade between the two countries. Included in the plan are initiatives to improve the biometric features of Permanent Resident Cards in both countries, sharing Advanced Passenger Information, and creating compatible immigration databases.

There are four main pillars to the Action Plan:

  • Secure flow of people
  • Secure flow of goods
  • Investing in secure infrastructure
  • Coordination and information sharing in the enforcement of these objectives

Canada-United States Integrated Border Enforcement Teams

Integrated Border Enforcement Teams[9] (IBETs) were created as a part of the Accord to consolidate the law-enforcement and intelligence-gathering expertise of different agencies in both countries. The key Canadian contributors to the IBETs are the CBSA, RCMP, US Customs and Border Protection, US Coast Guard, and US ICE Teams. However, IBETs also enlist the help of other municipal, state/provincial and federal agencies on certain projects.

In Canada, IBETs operate in 15 regions across the Canada-US Border in air, sea and land modes. They are based on a model started along the British Columbia-Washington State border in 1996. Since their inception, IBETs have helped disrupt smuggling rings involved in the drug trade, alcohol, tobacco and vehicle smuggling, and human trafficking.

Recent CBSA successes

Project OBOY

On 14 February, 2006, the CBSA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a number of other Canadian and US law enforcement agencies carried out a series of raids in support of Project OBOY, a three-year investigation which resulted in the arrest of almost 30 people in Toronto, Windsor, Detroit and New York City. The ring was responsible for smuggling over 100 people both ways across the border, using methods such as concealing them in the trunks of cars, on rail cars, in small boats and in the back of commercial trucks.

Operation Jaloux/Operation Hat Trick

In April 2006, an Atlantic IBET made 26 arrests (11 in Canada, 15 in the US) after a two-year investigation into a major cross-border drug smuggling ring. The operation was largely undertaken at the Edmundston, New Brunswick port of entry. In addition to the arrests, Jaloux netted over 1,000 pounds of marijuana, 110,000 ecstasy pills and more than $1.2 million USD. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) participated in the IBET operation, which was called Operation Jaloux in Canada and Operation Hat Trick in the United States.

Operation E-Patch/Smuggler's Uncle

E-Patch (Canadian name) /Smuggler's Uncle (US name) also concluded in April 2006 and was undertaken by the Pacific IBET. The US Attorney's Office indicted 14 people for smuggling people through Canada and into the United States for profit. The network used houses in Toronto and Vancouver to hold South Asian nationals while they awaited transportation to the US.

Operation Frozen Timber/E Printer

Frozen Timber (US name) /E Printer (Canadian name) was carried out by the Pacific IBET and resulted in the disruption of a brazen drug smuggling ring which transported tons of illegal drugs across the border using aircraft which dropped their loads in remote wooded locations in British Columbia and Washington State, often in broad daylight. The investigation began in November 2004, and by June 2006, more than 40 arrests and 45 indictments had been issued in the US, and four arrests were made in Canada. In total, 3,640 kilograms of marijuana, 365 kilograms of cocaine, three aircraft and more than $1.5 million USD were seized by law enforcement agencies in both countries. In addition to the participating IBET agencies, Frozen Timber/E Printer was carried out with the cooperation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Washington State Patrol, the United States Attorney's offices in Spokane and Seattle, the DEA, the FBI, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Sheriff's Departments of Whatcom, Skagit, and Okanagan Counties, as well as the Abbotsford Police Department.

IBETs are currently operating at land border crossings in the following regions:

Project OSPA

TORONTO, Oct. 23rd, 2008 - A six month joint law-enforcement investigation into the exportation of more than 500 kilograms of methamphetamine (commonly known as speed), ecstasy pills and cocaine from Canada to Australia has resulted in the arrest of five Ontario individuals who are now facing multiple drug and possession of property obtained by crime charges.

The investigation, dubbed Project OSPA, is one of the largest investigations to date where Canada has been identified as the source of distribution. The investigation began in May 2008 when the Australia Federal Police (AFP) intercepted a shipment of foot baths in which 27 kilograms of methamphetamine and 27 kilograms of cocaine had been hidden. The RCMP and the Australia Federal Police working in partnership, successfully intercepted three additional shipments of foot baths and other beauty supply-related products to Australia totaling over 200 kilograms of cocaine, 214 kilograms of ecstasy pills and over 130 kilograms of methamphetamine. The Australian Federal Police have arrested 14 individuals during the course of this investigation in which four are Canadian citizens.

The drugs were traced back to Canada where the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency worked jointly during the course of the investigation. The Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police also participated in this investigation which resulted in the further seizures of an outdoor marijuana grow operation with about 1,000 plants was shut down near Sudbury Ontario. In partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 125,000 pills of Ecstasy bound for U.S. markets were also seized. The US authorities have charged one individual in connection with this investigation.

On October 22nd, 2008, the RCMP GTA Drug Section executed 8 search warrants which resulted in the seizure of cash, weapons as well as a marihuana grow operation located in a residence. These investigations are still ongoing and further charges are pending.

These arrests and the dismantling of a sophisticated criminal exportation network are a significant blow in eradicating Canada as a transnational drug-trafficking hub. The criminal exportation network used many tactics to avoid detection. For instance, it is alleged that various logistics companies were created for the sole purpose of appearing to export legitimate products, but with large amounts of drugs secreted inside. The network is also alleged to have used public internet terminals to communicate with each other.

Detector Dog Service

The CBSA's use of detector dogs began with three canine units at the Windsor port of entry in 1978. The program has since expanded to include 69 detector dog teams located at ports across Canada. Detector dogs work in mail, air, land and marine modes. Each dog is trained to detect specific commodities, and are generally trained to fit into one of three profiles:

  • narcotics, explosives and firearms
  • currency
  • plants, food and animals


Detector dogs provide Border Services Officers (BSOs) with one of the most effective tools in the detection of contraband. Although other tools are available to BSOs, detector dogs are highly efficient in their ability to accurately locate the source of a scent, and thus can save time in labour-intensive examinations of vehicles, luggage and cargo. This speeds up the process for BSOs as well as for the travelling public.

The CBSA uses passive detector dogs, unlike some other law enforcement agencies, which use active dogs. When a passive dog detects a scent that it has been trained to recognize, it sits beside the source of the smell. While active dogs, which bark, scratch, dig or bite at the source of the scent, were used initially by the CBSA, passive dogs allow the officer to circulate among passengers more peacefully, and are considered by the Agency to be more effective in the course of their work. The Passive Dog training was implemented in 1993, and is now the Agency's preference.


Detector Dog teams (consisting of a dog and a single handler) undergo a 12 week training course at the CBSA Learning Centre. The handlers are Border Services Officers, and are trained on how to care for, maintain, and train their dogs. They are also trained to understand the Cone of Scent. Odour particles always disperse in the shape of a cone: more concentrated at the source, and less concentrated farther away. After the initial training, the handler must keep up a training regimen to ensure their dog remains in top form. Only about 1 in 10 dogs who begin the training eventually become detector dogs.

While there is no specific description for a detector dog, the CBSA looks for certain characteristics that make a better potential detector dog,[10] including:

  • ability and desire to retrieve
  • good physical condition
  • alertness
  • sociability
  • boldness
  • temperament

About the dogs

Detector dogs begin training between the ages of 11 and 16 months and work for an average of 8 to 10 years. Several different breeds are used, but the CBSA primarily uses Labrador Retrievers for firearm, drug and currency detection, and the Beagle for plant, food and animal detection. Dogs that are used to detect firearms, drugs and currency live with their handler. However, dogs trained to detect agricultural products live in a commercial kennel as living around large amounts of food full time can cause the dog to become desensitized to some scents. While the dog is at work, it is transported in air-conditioned vehicles that act as a mobile kennel.

The AMPS program, implemented in December 2005, is a system that encourages compliance with Customs legislation through the tendering of monetary penalties. It is used mainly as an enforcement tool on technical infractions, where the subject did not necessarily intend to breach the legislation, but failed to comply in some way. For more serious or deliberate infractions, the goods in question may be seized or subject to forfeiture. AMPS penalties are imposed depending on the severity and frequency of the infraction. Multiple infractions will result in higher penalties under the AMPS system.

Commerce and trade-oriented programs and initiatives

Customs Self Assessment Program

The CSA program gives approved importers a streamlined accounting and paying process for all imported goods. Importers are required to apply for acceptance into the program

Advance Commercial Information

A major ongoing project of the CBSA is Advance Commercial Information, which requires shipborne and airborne cargo entering Canada to be registered with the Agency. This assists officials at seaports and airports in their inspections, and allows for the tracking of suspicious materials. These phases of the project were implemented in 2005, with a similar highway and rail cargo program to follow in the near future.


  1. ^ "About the CBSA - What we do". 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  2. ^ "Bill C-26:Canada Border Services Agency Act". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2010-01-11.  
  3. ^ "About the CBSA - Responsibilities". 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2010-01-11.  
  4. ^ Jiminez, Marina (2003-11-15). "200,000 illegal immigrants toiling in Canada's underground economy". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  5. ^ "Customs Act, 1985". 1986-02-13. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  6. ^ Michael Lucas Implores Obama, Harper to Talk About Porn, AVN News, February 20, 2009.
  7. ^ Lucas Porn Films Detained At Border, DNA Magazine, February 13, 2009
  8. ^ "Border Cooperation 32-Point Action Plan".  
  9. ^ "IBET".  
  10. ^ "Detector Dog Service".  

External links

See also

Simple English

Canada Border Services Agency
Agence des services frontaliers du Canada
Common name Border Services
Abbreviation CBSA/ASFC
Customs and Immigration Sign
Agency Overview
Formed December 12, 2003
Preceding agency Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Employees 12,000+
Legal personality Governmental agency
Jurisdictional Structure
Federal agency Canada
Governing body Public Safety Canada
Constituting instruments
General nature
  • Civilian agency
  • Federal law enforcement
Operational Structure
Elected officer responsible Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety
Agency executive Stephen Rigby, President
CBSA Homepage

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) (French: Agence des services frontaliers du Canada - ASFC) is the Canadian government agency with a duty to act as border guards and customs services.[1]

The agency was started on December 12, 2003 (the same day Paul Martin became Prime Minister of Canada), by an order-in-council joining Canada Customs with border and law enforcement agents from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).[2]


  1. "What we do?". Canada Border Services Agency. Retrieved 09-03-2009. 
  2. "Who we are?". Canada Border Services Agency. Retrieved 09-03-2009. 

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