single window initiativeThe Single Window Initiative (SWI)

The Single Window Initiative (SWI) is an initiative of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to establish a single portal through which importers can electronically submit shipment information for customs clearance. Once SWI is fully implemented, CBSA and participating government departments and agencies will streamline the sharing of import data.

The main goal of the Single Window Initiative is to meet the requirements of multiple government departments through one single submission at time of importation into Canada.

The deadline to onboard to Single Window is January 1, 2019 with the existing Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) and Release on Minimum Documentation (RMD) service options decommissioned by April 1, 2020.
UPDATE: CBSA Announces Phased Decommissioning of PARS/RMD Service Options 
CBSA has advised they will not impose a mandatory go-live date on April 1, 2019 for existing OGD PARS and RMD service options. Instead, these service options will begin a phased in transition to decommissioning on April 1, with decommissioning planned for October 2019.

Trade partners that are certified and in production are expected to use SWI/IID to the greatest extent possible; those who are certified to use the SWI/IID but still opt to use the legacy OGD PARS and RMD options to clear shipments may experience delays in their release.
How SWI Works

Currently some Other Governmental Departments (OGDs) require paper presentations of certain documentation to be presented along with other release data elements to CBSA at time of clearance. Under the SWI program, these documents will be transmitted electronically through a portal to secure both a customs and OGD release.

Each OGD requires their own unique type of information and documentation, which is not currently a requirement at time of release. It is the importer’s responsibility to ensure that all the necessary data is available to secure both Customs & the relevant OGD release.

Under SWI, importers are able to submit one single electronic submission containing all required details and supporting documentation. The OGD & CBSA will assess each of their relevant information and decision on the release of the product in question.
Participating Government Agencies (PGAs)

SWI will collect information for CBSA and nine (9) different government departments and agencies – called Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) – for 38 government programs. Government departments and agents participating in SWI include:

  • Canada Food Inspection Agency
  • Transport Canada
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada

CBSA provides data requirements for each PGA and applicable products, with more data element rationales being posted as they become available.
Integrated Import Declaration (IID)

Under SWI, importers and customs brokers will submit an electronic Integrated Import Declaration (IID) to CBSA. The IID replaces the current electronic message service options (PARS, RMD) and includes more data fields to capture additional information required by the nine PGDs listed above. It serves as both a pre- and post-arrival option, able to be sent to CBSA for processing up to 90 days prior to the arrival of the goods.
What SWI Means for Importers

For some importers, SWI will mean that the amount of information required to clear your shipment will change and/or increase. The best way to manage these requirements and avoid delays at the border is by ensuring all required licenses and/or permits for PGA-regulated goods are submitted with your shipping documentation. If using a Customs Broker to clear your goods, you should provide all the required information and supporting documents related to your shipment to your broker.
We Can Help

PF Collins can help ease the transition to SWI and answer any questions you may have about new requirements under the program. If you have any questions regarding the Single Window Initiative or any other import/export matters, please contact your nearest PF Collins office. We offer a full range of Customs Brokerage and Customs Consulting services to assist with all your importing and exporting needs.