The CARM ARL Initiative and Its Impact on the Visibility of Canadian Duties and Taxes Paid

Managing duties and taxes paid is of key importance to importers. However, keeping track of the amount remitted to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and when payments were filed has been a time consuming and paperwork-intensive process.

Luckily, the trade is now in the initial stage of a CBSA data collection and duty/tax assessment overhaul. This first phase of functionality, known as the Accounts Receivable Ledger (ARL) program, is part of the larger initiative called the CBSA’s Assessment and Revenue Management Project (CARM).

What is the CBSA Accounts Receivable Ledger (ARL) Program?

Simply stated, CARM is a significant modernization of the way that the trade views accounting records and submits amounts owed. Previously, full duty and tax remittance details were not available— think of reading a receipt that only partially lists the items purchased or refunds provided. Since customs brokers often inform importers of the amount owed to CBSA, the lack of detailed information presented substantial reconciliation problems for customs brokers and importers alike.

The CARM ARL process not only provides in-depth duty and tax payment details, but also offers the option to remit payments electronically. In addition to daily insight, called Daily Notices (DN), a full Statement of Account (SOA) is also available, which is generated on the 25th of each month. With this added knowledge, customs brokers can better coordinate the submission of proper duties and taxes for each client, and importers can better review and verify that the correct amounts were remitted.

Although ARL includes substantial benefits to customs borders and importers, there are two critical details to note:

  1. Importers must apply for the functionality through a multi-step process. Without what is known as an Account Security Number (ASEC), an importer must physically travel to an ARL-enabled CBSA office to obtain a hard copy printout. Electronic data is available for importers with a valid ASEC; however, few importers have this capability. This presents an opportunity for customs brokers that can offer this service to their importer customers.
  2. Although the data is available from the CBSA, the functionality that would offer this information through a CBSA portal was cancelled. Importers were left with the responsibility to create mechanisms to support the receipt of this data.

The ARL & Descartes

Descartes has solved the above two fundamental concerns by implementing a system that proxy certifies filers, and can provide both DNs and SOAs in an easy-to-use, web-based portal. The Descartes Canadian Customs Brokerage™solution is an on-demand, enterprise-level software solution that helps customs brokers and importer self-filers better manage operations.

Our solution provides the following benefits:

For Importers

  • Ends the need for a manual, multi-step application process
  • Removes the time and expense of travelling to an ARL-enabled CBSA location to obtain and transport hard copy printed information
  • Provides the ability to better reconcile the amount owed to CBSA from a centralized, intuitive interface
  • Covers duty management recordkeeping requirements (also applicable to customs brokers below)

For Customs Brokers

  • Enhances service for importer clients
  • Provides value-added services such as clearance and shipment management (also a benefit for importer self-filers)
  • Eliminates the cost to develop and maintain an in-house system, and the time spent interacting with the CBSA Technical Commercial Client Unit (TCCU)
  • Integrates with robust accounting functionality for streamlined billing
  • Offers added communication capabilities and messaging
  • Minimizes the requirement to specify and parse ARL-related data received from CBSA

Although ARL is having a substantial positive impact of the daily operational practices of brokers and importers, Descartes encourages the trade to closely monitor the larger CARM initiative as it progresses toward its completion date.

In addition to ARL, importers are watching the development of the importer Advance Trade Data (ATD) component of the eManifest program, as well as the progress of the Canadian Single Window Initiative (SWI) which will provide a central system-of-record for communication with CBSA and other agencies within the Canadian government.

Click here to register to download an interactive eBookthat details how importers and freight forwarders will be impacted by initiatives such as eManifest.

Written by Glenn Palanacki

Former Product Manager, North American Customs at Descartes.