Companies engaged in international trade need to ensure compliance with customs requirements and import controls or risk significant civil and criminal liability. However, regulations are often complex, requiring skilled counsel to advise on applicability, exemptions and compliance issues. Blakes lawyers are recognized as among Canada’s leaders for specialized expertise in customs and import controls counselling and advice. That is why so many companies across industries consult Blakes when engaging in international trade.

Clients know that they can rely on our considerable experience dealing with the core customs areas of tariff classification, valuation and origin as well as a wide range of other challenges they face. We regularly advise clients on applicable import quotas and import licences, often lobbying on their behalf to limit licence requirements or to obtain applicable exemptions. Businesses also seek our risk management guidance with respect to import and resale pricing practices, compliance with the technical requirements of importing goods into Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements, and structuring their affairs to maximize the tariff benefits offered by NAFTA and other trade agreements.

We advise on matters involving goods and services tax (GST) on imports, food labelling regulations and approvals of food and health products, import regulations raising copyright and other intellectual property issues, as well as the enforcement of intellectual property rights at the border against counterfeit goods. Blakes lawyers also assure that clients are aware of and take measures to avoid liability under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) rules, and we are involved in ongoing consultations with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on AMPS issues.

Blakes litigators regularly appear before the courts in several provinces and have successfully handled cases involving complex constitutional and other issues relating to the imposition of tax on goods used interprovincially. We represent clients in customs audits, advise on voluntary disclosures, defend clients in seizure and enforcement actions, and assist with requests for advance rulings to the CBSA. Additionally, Blakes lawyers have represented clients at all levels within the CBSA, as well as before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and the Federal Court of Appeal.

We continually monitor customs developments and rulings in order to provide state-of-the-art advice on the diverse matters impacting our clients.

Representative Matters

  • Advised a Fortune 500 energy company on customs and import issues with respect to the importation and exportation of coal.
  • Advised an auto parts company on the customs and GST implications of a complex import transaction involving a "Big Three" auto customer.
  • Represented a world leader in the energy industry in a single program customs audit involving its compliance with tariff classification rules, and also assisting the company with proposals to the NAFTA countries to implement a rule of origin on "disassembly" that will deal with how remanufactured goods are treated for NAFTA purposes.
  • Assisted one of the largest express carrier and package delivery companies in the world in respect of a large AMPS penalty.
  • Negotiated a rare package of customs duty relief with the Canadian government on behalf of a U.S. subsidiary of a European global manufacturer.


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Partner | Toronto
Toronto: 416-863-2355
Areas of Expertise: International Trade, Tax, Sales & Commodity Taxes, Customs & Import Controls, Infrastructure, Structured Finance, Public-Private Partnerships, Sanctions & Export Controls
Partner | Toronto
Toronto: 416-863-4306
Areas of Expertise: International Trade, Customs & Import Controls, Sanctions & Export Controls, Sales & Commodity Taxes, Drones, International Trade Agreements & Compliance, Trade Litigation
Associate | Toronto
Toronto: 416-863-4241
Areas of Expertise: Sales & Commodity Taxes, Tax, Customs & Import Controls, International Trade
Partner | Vancouver
Vancouver: 604-631-4220
Areas of Expertise: Anti-Money Laundering, Constitutional & Charter of Rights, Construction, Corporate Litigation, Energy, Environmental, International Trade, Media & Defamation, Mining, Mining Lending, Mining Streaming & Royalties, Mining Litigation & Dispute Resolution, LNG, Aboriginal, Public & Political Law, Financial Services Regulatory, Environmental Assessments & Approvals, Anti-Corruption & Bribery, Customs & Import Controls, International Trade Agreements & Compliance, Investment Treaty Arbitration, Sanctions & Export Controls, Trade Litigation, Construction Dispute Resolution
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