System Outage Contingency Plan

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Table of contents

Introduction

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) System Outage Contingency Plan sets out the procedures for importing goods in the commercial stream that clients, including carriers, brokers/importers, freight forwarders and warehouse operators, may follow in the event of a CBSA system outage. This contingency plan is an alternative to the general procedures for the reporting of goods, in bond movements, release of goods and final accounting.  This contingency plan is applicable only in circumstances where system outages have occurred.

An outage is defined as "A temporary suspension of operation to the electronic systems".  Throughout this document, the term "client" refers to any external trade chain partner (TCP), including carriers, importers, freight forwarders, warehouse operators, agents and third-party service providers. The scope of this contingency plan includes both CBSA and Client systems outages (full and partial) affecting the ability for clients to submit/receive and CBSA to electronically process trade documents and outgoing notices and messages.

Stakeholders should know that improvements to facilitate and automate manual processes are already being discussed and developed for continual future incorporation as they become viable

Key Principles

The CBSA recommended contingency processes outlined in this document are based on the following key principles:

Data Elements Required

Item Name Highway Marine Rail Air Freight Forwarder
Pre-arrival
1 Conveyance Reference Number Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 First Port of Arrival from foreign Yes Yes Yes Yes No
3 Cargo Control Number (CCN) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
4 Container Number No Yes No No Yes
5 Carrier Code belonging to the Conveyance Operating Carrier (air only) No No No Yes No
6 Carrier Contact Phone Number  (Recommended to submit a number that can be  contactable 24/7)
(Driver may provide contact information when requested by BSO)
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
7 Foreign Port or Place Of Loading for marine and Foreign Airport of Loading for air No Yes No Yes No
8 Itinerary Routing- air and marine only No Yes No Yes No
9 Consignee:
  • Consignee Name
  • Consignee Address
  • Consignee City
  • Consignee Country Code
  • Consignee Province/State*
  • Consignee Postal/Zip Code*
*required if Canada/US 
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
10 Shipper:
  • Shipper Name
  • Shipper Address
  • Shipper City
  • Shipper Province/State*
  • Shipper Postal/Zip Code*
*required if Canada/US
Yes Yes Yes Yes  Yes
11 Delivery:  (Must be provided if different from consignee address.)
  • Delivery Name
  • Delivery Address
  • Delivery City
  • Delivery Country Code
  • Delivery Province/State*
  • Delivery Postal/Zip Code*
*required if Canada/US
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
12 Notify Party:  (Must provide if available.  This would be the name and address of all parties other than the consignee and shipper on file requiring notification upon arrival of the goods in Canada.)
  • Notify Party Name
  • Notify Party Address
  • Notify Party City
  • Notify Party Country Code
  • Notify Party Province/State*
  • Notify Party Postal/Zip Code*
*required if Canada/US
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
13 Cargo Description Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
14 Cargo Weight Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
15 Cargo Quantity Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
16 Dangerous Goods Code
(Must be transmitted if dangerous goods code applies to the commodity code being reported)
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
17 Movement Type- Identify if it is an import, in transit or FROB Yes Yes Yes Yes No
18 Trusted Trader indicator Optional n/a Optional Optional No
At Arrival
1 Transaction number (if release decision is requested) Yes Yes Yes Yes n/a
2 Sub-office Work location code (if moving in bond) Yes Yes Yes Yes n/a

Communications Protocol during System Outages

CBSA provides ongoing technical support to trade partner stakeholders in support of commercial programs.  Technical client service support for trade partners 24/7, whether or not system outages are occurring is available via two avenues:

Via telephone / Client Service 'Hotline'

The CBSA provides a "hotline" services to assist clients with technical issues or problems relating to the exchange of data with the CBSA – 1-888-957-7224.

Live client support is provided during regular business hours (8:00 to 17:00 ET), to clients currently using or seeking to use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or the eManifest portal.  After hours support is available from 17:00 to 8:00 ET, Monday through Friday, weekends and on holidays.  Clients are required to leave a detailed voice mail message and an officer will return the call. 

The hotline is also used to provide information to clients such as the status of CBSA systems in the event that there is an outage.  The CBSA ensures that the 'Hotline' is updated immediately upon notification of a systems outage and/or backlog has been reported and is regularly updated throughout the outage period.  Regular updates will be provided every 4 hours during regular business hours should the outage not be resolved.  Messages will not be updated after hours until the outage is resolved or until regular business hours resume. 

Hotline messages will revert back to 'all systems are functioning normally' as soon as CBSA's technical support teams are notified that the outage has been resolved.

Via Bulletins

CBSA provides written e-mails or 'Bulletins' to clients on upcoming scheduled outages and messages on the system statuses during the outage. Updates to system outage messages will be provided every 4 hours during regular business hours. Messages will not be updated after hours until the outage is resolved or until regular business hours resume.  Clients should make the assumption that the outage is still ongoing unless a "resolved" message is provided. The Technical Commercial Unit (TCCU) of the CBSA sends these messages via e-mail to clients. If you would like to receive these messages, you can send an e-mail to the TCCU at the following address to request to be added: tccu-ustcc@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

Types of CBSA Outages

There are 15 different types of outages that can occur.  Each, with the exception of the infrastructure problems, can be scheduled or unscheduled.

An unscheduled outage means that a problem has created a situation that was not expected and has caused some type of outage or delay.  As it was unexpected, research and analysis must be conducted to locate and resolve the problem.  There will be no estimated time of resolution until the research and analysis is completed and the problem has been identified.  This will allow technical experts to assess the situation and provide a more accurate estimated time for resolving the problem.

A scheduled CBSA system outage is a planned outage that occurs for maintenance or a systems release of new functionality or problem fixes.  A time period for the outage is established and published for the trade community in advance of the outage.  This information is provided to allow our clients time to plan around the outage.

Scheduled outages are planned to take place in the early mornings on weekends which coincides with the lowest volume of transaction processing. This is done to minimize the impact of the outage on clients.

1. Full CBSA System Outage

A full CBSA system outage means that all CBSA systems; EDI, eManifest portal and CBSA internal systems are not functioning.  ( Please note this outage type does not impact the ability to transmit data to CBSA, the data can be received and queued until the systems are back up the data is processed.)

2. Delays in Processing – EDI

Delays in Processing – EDI means that the CBSA has a backlog of electronic messages being submitted or coming through EDI for processing.  The time taken to receive or send an EDI message is impacting operations such that it is causing delays for business.  Delays in processing is considered an outage anytime the CBSA is running 30 – 60 minutes behind in processing incoming/outgoing messages.

3. Delays in Processing - Portal

Delays in Processing – Portal means that the CBSA has a backlog of electronic messages being submitted or coming through the portal for processing.  The time taken to receive or send a portal message is impacting operations such that it is causing delays for business.  A delay in processing is considered an outage anytime the CBSA is 30 – 60 minutes behind in processing incoming/outgoing messages or where response time is greater than 15 minutes. 

4. Full EDI Outage

A full EDI system outage means that the CBSA is not able to process any of the electronic messages being received or sent through EDI. (The internal functionality of processing the inbound / outbound EDI data received from the external client is unavailable however it does not include the ability to transmit the data to CBSA, where it is received and queued until such time the EDI processing of the data is back online.)

5. No EDI Inbound

An EDI inbound system outage means that CBSA is not able to receive any new inbound EDI messages from clients.

6. No EDI Outbound

An EDI outbound system outage means that the CBSA is not able to send messages to clients through EDI.

7. Full eManifest Portal Outage

A full eManifest portal outage means that the eManifest portal is not operational.

Note:  A full portal outage does not technically affect EDI. The eManifest portal clients may wish to consider putting in place their own contingency plan that would make use of EDI E.g. contracting a service provider or employing their own EDI communication method e.g. Customs Internet Gateway (CIG)

8. No eManifest Portal Inbound

An inbound portal outage means that the CBSA is not receiving information submitted through the eManifest portal.

9. No eManifest Portal Outbound

An outbound portal outage means that the CBSA is not able to post responses in the eManifest portal

10. Direct Connect or VAN Outage

A Direct Connect (DC) or VAN outage is an outage that only affects those clients that utilize the impacted Direct Connect or VAN as their electronic communication method. 

11. Customs Internet Gateway (CIG) Outage

A CIG outage is an outage that only affects those clients that utilizes the CIG as their electronic communication method. 

12. Blackout

CBSA's National Security Policy under the Emergency Preparedness Act would be put into effect.

A blackout refers to an infrastructure problem e.g. flood, earthquake, windstorm, terrorist attack that is affecting the entire country, means that all CBSA or client systems; EDI, eManifest portal and CBSA internal systems are not functioning. 

13. Brownout

A brownout refers to an infrastructure problem e.g. hydro, communication lines etc. that is affecting one or multiple locations within Canada. 

It will impact receiving and providing inbound and outbound messages to some clients as opposed to a full CBSA system outage means that all CBSA systems; EDI, eManifest portal and CBSA internal systems are not functioning. 

Some Clients are unable to receive outgoing messages e.g. no acknowledgement, completeness or status notices, manifest forwards, rejects, Section 12, Proof of report etc.

14. Client Planned Outage

A client or service provider's system outage that has been pre-scheduled for maintenance purposes that will prevent the transmission of customs information to and receipt of customs information from the CBSA.

15. Client Unplanned Outage

A client or service provider's unplanned system outage that is preventing the transmission of customs information to and/or receipt of customs information from the CBSA.

In cases of a full client outage full paper documentation must be presented.  For release requests this must include an Exception Lead Sheet as outlined in D17-1-4.

When transmission is mandatory, eg Cargo/Conveyance/Housebill, it is expected that client will inform CBSA's Technical Commercial Client Unit (TCCU) former ECU/TSU of such outages as far in advance as possible. 

Compliance with pre-arrival requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Determining the release status of a shipment during an RNS outage

This section describes the procedure a client may use to determine the release status of a shipment during a systems outage affecting the primary communication method, i.e. the Release Notification System (RNS).

Clients include importers, brokers, carriers, freight forwarders and warehouse operators. 

The primary communication method may be down for various reasons, including a CBSA, client, or third party service provider outage affecting inbound and/or outbound communication between the client and the CBSA. 

The CBSA ACROSS system must be operational in order for this process to be used and release requests must already be transmitted to the CBSA for processing prior to the system outage.

Option 1 – Cargo Control Document

  1. The client will present the paper Cargo Control Document for the shipment, with a CBSA machine readable barcoded Cargo Control Number or Transaction Number, at a CBSA office and indicate that they would like to know the release status.
  2. The CBSA Border Service Officer (BSO) will verify the status in the system.  In the event it is released the BSO will release-stamp the Cargo Control Document and return it to the client as proof of release.  This proof is acceptable by all trade chain partners in original or faxed form as long as the CBSA stamp is clearly visible on the original or faxed copy.

Option 2 - Multiple Shipment Release Query form

In order to streamline the querying of multiple shipments, the Multiple Shipment Release Query form (see Appendix F) may be used.  The form may be modified by clients as long as the barcoded data remains CBSA machine readable.

This form is to be submitted to the CBSA office of release. 

The original CBSA stamped copy will be returned to the client.

Use of this form provides a flexible means to help ensure the most efficient use of CBSA and trade resources in facilitating alternate notification of release statuses to continue the movement of goods during outage periods.

Late Accounting Penalties

Clients may be assessed late accounting penalties if accounting documents are not received within prescribed time limits.  Relief may be granted in relation to delays caused by system outages, with the type and length of the outage determining how the relief will be processed:

Customs brokers and importers should submit a waiver application immediately after a prospective penalty is identified on the daily K-84, rather than waiting until the monthly statement is generated.  This will ensure, whenever possible, that the penalty will not be assessed on the monthly statement if it is eligible to be waived.

Post-outage Message Transmission Structure

Client must ensure all messages transmitted to the CBSA after an outage are submitted in the order listed below, in order to avoid receiving error or reject messages:

Highway:
Cargos: Must be transmitted/captured in our system first before the conveyance is transmitted/captured.
Conveyance: Must be transmitted once all related cargos are captured in our system.
House Bills: Must be transmitted/captured in our system before close message is transmitted/captured.
It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Close Message: Must be transmitted/captured after all related house bills are transmitted/captured. It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Releases: There is no order for releases to be transmitted, it can be transmitted/captured before or
after cargos & conveyance.
Conv. Arrival: There is no EDI highway arrival.
Cargo Arrival: For inland cargos, the arrival should be transmitted last.
Rail:
Cargos: Must be transmitted/captured in our system first before the conveyance is transmitted/captured.
Conveyance: Must be transmitted once all related cargos are captured in our system.
House Bills: Must be transmitted/captured in our system before close message is transmitted/captured.
It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Close Message: Must be transmitted/captured after all related house bills are transmitted/captured. It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Releases: There is no order for releases to be transmitted, it can be transmitted/captured before or
after cargos & conveyance.
Conv. Arrival: EDI conveyance arrival must be transmitted once all related cargos & releases have been
transmitted/captured.
Cargo Arrival: For inland cargos, the arrival should be transmitted last.
Air:
Cargos: No specific order in which cargos and conveyance must be transmitted/captured.
Conveyance: No specific order in which cargos and conveyance must be transmitted/captured.
House Bills: Must be transmitted/captured in our system before close message is transmitted/captured.
It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Close Message: Must be transmitted/captured after all related house bills are transmitted/captured. It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Releases: There is no order for releases to be transmitted, it can be transmitted/captured before or
after cargos & conveyance.
Conv. Arrival: EDI conveyance arrival must be transmitted once all related cargos & releases have been
transmitted/captured.
Cargo Arrival: For inland cargos, the arrival should be transmitted last.
Marine:
Cargos: No specific order in which cargos and conveyance must be transmitted/captured.
Conveyance: No specific order in which cargos and conveyance must be transmitted/captured.
House Bills: Must be transmitted/captured in our system before close message is transmitted/captured.
It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Close Message: Must be transmitted/captured after all related house bills are transmitted/captured. It will not reject if transmitted/captured before primary cargo is transmitted/captured.
Releases: There is no order for releases to be transmitted, it can be transmitted/captured before or
after cargos & conveyance.
Conv. Arrival: EDI conveyance arrival must be transmitted once all related cargos & releases have been
transmitted/captured.
Cargo Arrival: For inland cargos, the arrival should be transmitted last.
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