Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) Program

The Customs Self-Assessment Program typically abbreviated as (CSA) is a program designed for carriers, pre-approved importers and registered drivers. The program is administered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). CSA carriers and CSA-approved importers typically use a FAST (Free and Secure Trade) or CDRP (Commercial Driver Registration Program) approved drivers to bring cargo into Canada with much less time and reporting requirements than if they were not FAST or CDRP registered. The biggest advantage of the CSA program is that you save money and time at the border. A CSA-approved carrier along with a CSA importer’s cargo coming into Canada are processed efficiently and more quickly at the border due to fewer and simplified border requirements.

Benefits of Being a CSA Approved Carrier/Importer:

You do not have to deal with the transactional transmission of ACI (Advance Commercial Information) data elements for CSA imports given the streamlined clearance processes

Your cargo is more likely to pass through customs in an expedited manner

It makes it easier to fulfil your obligations to clients by delivering the goods on time

It improves and streamlines the process of legitimate business.

How to Become a CSA Approved Highway Carrier

To become a CSA carrier you will need to go through an application process that checks for eligibility, possession of a robust dispatch system, after which you will then be permitted to make an application.


If you want to become a CSA highway carrier you need to meet the following requirements:

Get a bond of $25,000 or more

Present evidence that shows you have been hauling goods to or from Canada for at least three months (90 days).

Be free of any major commercial infractions or free from any history of transporting contraband.

Be willing to take liability for and offer guarantees that you will maintain control of all shipments until they are duty and tax released by the CBSA

Be willing to provide authorization to CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency), who will inspect your audit trails & commercial business processes to ensure compliance with CSA program requirements.

Dispatch System

A dispatch system is one of the key requirements for any carrier requesting to join the CSA program. You can have either an electronic or manual dispatch system as long as you can show that you are in control of it at all times. Applications from carriers using service providers or third parties to provide or operate dispatch activities on behalf of your company may be declined by the CBSA.

In addition to having the dispatch system, you will also need to show that you have processes in place. You will need to show that you record and track important events during the shipment transportation process. These may include a description of goods, pickup date and location, and delivery date and location. You will also have to show that you have internally generated sequential control/pro/trip numbers that you use to track and control all shipments right from the moment the booking is done.

How to Apply to Become a CSA Highway Carrier

You must go through a two-part process to become a CSA Approved carrier.

Part I – Risk assessment

Relevant registrant identifiers and the corporate structure of the business

Location of business divisions

Details of drivers, equipment, clients and type of cargo focus

Warehouse and terminal locations

Personnel policies and security measures for facilities used to handle freight

Part II – Dispatch System, Records, and Books

As a carrier you will need to provide;

Detailed systems and dispatch procedures

An understanding of how eligible shipments, drivers and CSA-approved importers will be identified in the systems

A demonstration of how shipments bound for Canada move across international borders

Current business processes right from the time the goods are ordered through to billing

Location of records and books

Procedures for assigning internal control numbers for orders accepted

Reporting systems used to track CSA-approved shipments and any other shipments bound for Canada

Appropriate linkages, descriptions, and sample documents for the different stages of the shipping process.

Customs Self-Assessment Program for Drivers

CSA Approved importers need to have registered drivers to be eligible for the CSA program. Drivers are approved through either of two methods:

Becoming a Free and Secure Trade (FAST)-Approved Driver

Becoming approved under the Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP) Driver

Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP)

The program makes it more convenient for commercial freight carriers to pass faster and more efficiently from the US into Canada. The program is designed for commercial drivers, pre-approved carriers and importers transporting low-risk goods into Canada, who need fast and efficient clearance through Customs.

As a registered CDRP driver, one can drive for a CSA-approved carrier.

Benefits of Being a CDRP Driver

Crossing the Canadian – US border is faster and easier

Eligibility to participate in the FAST program that grants one access to dedicated lanes in the US and Canada where one can enjoy faster immigration and customs processing.

Eligibility for the CDRP

Canadian permanent residency or citizenship; or

US permanent residency with visitor requirements met or US citizenship

Qualifications for the CDRP:

Have no criminal record and be admissible to Canada

Be clean of any violation of immigration or custom laws

Be of good character

Complete the application

Ready to adhere to the requirements and responsibilities of being a CDRP member

Free and Secure Trade (FAST)

The FAST driver program is intended to expedite trade across the US-Canada border while ensuring security and safety for commercial transportation.

Benefits of FAST

You get access to more efficient customs clearance and dedicated lanes where they are to be found

Delivery times are significantly reduced even as the cost of imports goes down

Makes one certain that there will be fewer delays at the border

You do not have to carry too much documentation to get across the border

If you are an American or Canadian citizen, the FAST membership card can also work as an identity card.
You have to renew your FAST membership every five years and continue to adhere to terms and regulations if you are to keep your membership current.

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