Once you have determined where you want to hold your event in Canada, you or your delegated representative can start making arrangements with the CBSA's International Events and Convention Services Program (IECSP) to ensure the smooth processing of goods and delegates across the Canadian border.
What to send
Contact the IECSP regional coordinator at the CBSA office nearest to your event location and provide the following details:
- when and where the event will take place;
- the number of participants, both Canadian and foreign, expected to attend;
- the name of the person who will be on site and responsible for processing any necessary CBSA documents when the goods arrive in Canada (this could be the event organizer or one of your employees, a customs broker or a delegated unpaid representative); and
- a list of all goods you plan to bring into Canada, including their origin and intended use, as well as details on when, where and how these goods will arrive.
Be sure to also indicate the following:
- if any controlled goods are being imported;
- if any goods will be sold or given away at the event;
- if you would like the event to be considered for on-site clearance privileges; and
- if you would like to know if your goods qualify for customs duty-free entry and/or provisions that will provide full or partial relief of the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax.
When to send
The IECSP requires 15–30 business days to process a “recognition” request and to provide advice on any specific Canadian government requirements relating to an event. Event size and logistics, visa requirements, import/export permit requirements and regional workload are some of the factors considered by the IECSP when determining advance requirements.
The IECSP's goal is to make the import process simpler for foreign conventions, domestic conventions with foreign content, exhibitions, meetings, trade shows and various types of events held in Canada by identifying the CBSA's border requirements to the client before the event takes place. This is known as the “recognition” process.
After reviewing the event details presented in your initial request, the IECSP will determine the following:
- if your event qualifies under the IECSP's international event or convention sector guidelines;
- if any applicable tariff remission privileges can be applied to the goods you intend to bring into Canada;
- if on-site border clearance services can be provided for the event; and
- if any other government department (OGD) requirements need to be met.
The IECSP regional coordinator will then issue a letter of recognition that explains all the Canadian border requirements based on the information you or your event coordinator or representative provided.
The letter of recognition will identify CBSA border procedures or any anticipated OGD requirements that apply to your event and confirm the specific services the IECSP may provide for the event, such as the following:
- authorizing on-site border services clearance privileges;
- determining what terms and conditions apply to secure after-hours clearance and any CBSA special service charges that may apply;
- determining what relevant border procedures and tariff treatments apply to the event goods you intend to import;
- identifying any bonded warehouse privileges;
- providing information regarding Citizenship and Immigration Canada requirements; and
- identifying the need for a speaker's letter of introduction.
Using the letter of recognition
The letter of recognition acts as a letter of introduction for your event. It is to be submitted to CBSA officials when event attendees, speakers and goods temporarily enter Canada.
To ensure a smooth entry process, a copy of the letter of recognition should be distributed as follows:
- the event coordinator or broker should forward a copy to participants, exhibitors, delegates and guest speakers so that they can present it to a CBSA officer when they arrive at the Canadian border;
- a copy should accompany any shipment of commercial goods to the event; and
- a copy should be forwarded to the designated representative or customs broker, as applicable.