What are the Top 10 Reasons for CBSA

NEXUS Card Cancellations in 2020?

Written By: Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

Date: September 21, 2020

Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, w e have worked on a number of NEXUS requests for review (that is appeals) in 2020.   Our list of reasons for NEXUS card cancellations is based on our experience and is not based on a review of all the Canada Border Services Agency ("CBSA") Recourse Directorate files.

The top ten reasons (some not particularly good reasons) for the CBSA confiscating NEXUS cards are:

1. The traveler failed to provide the correct answer when using the NEXUS authomated kiosk at the airport.  The NEXUS kiosk questions changed (and are no longer the same as the E311 Declaration Card received on an airplane).  Travelers did not realise the questions changed.  The question used to ask whether you are within your exemption limited? The question not is "Do you have anything to declare?".  If you have acquired any goods outside Canada, you have something to declare and must answer 'Yes".  Even if you have a pack of chewing gum, you have to answer "Yes".  The CBSA Officer stationed at the NEXUS lane will ask what you purcashed and mark on your NEXUS kiosk printout.

2. The traveler failed to declare goods when using the NEXUS authomated kiosk at the airport.  The travelers wanted to get through the airport quickly to avoid coming into contact with person with COVID-19.  The traveler declared at the NEXUS kiosk that they had no goods to declare, when they purchased or received a good outside Canada.  Often the value of the goods is less than the personal exemption limit.  However, by answering "No" to the NEXUS kiosk question, the CBSA officer takes the position that the traveler failed to declare goods.

Alternatively, the traveler forgot to check a box on the E311 Declaration Card.  For example, the traveler did not check the box that they exceeded their person exemption limit, but wrote a number in excess of the personal exemption limit.  Another common example is that a traveler has a dog or a cat, but does not check the box for live animals thinking the box only applies to food.

3. The traveler was accused by the CBSA officer of making a false statement to the CBSA officer (contrary to section 110 of the Customs Act) when they declared goods using the NEXUS kiosk at an international airport, but provided the incorrect value for duty when repeatedly asked to give a number.  In these cases, the traveler properly declared that they were within their personal exemption limit and that was truthful and correct.

Alternatively, The traveler was accused by the CBSA of making a false statement to the CBSA officer (contrary to section 110 of the Customs Act) when they made a mathematical error adding their receipts of converting the receipts into Canadian dollars.

4. The traveler was accused by the CBSA of making a false statement to the CBSA officer (contrary to section 110 of the Customs Act) or the traveler is accused of providing a false invoice for an expensive item the traveler purchased at a private sales (often as a result of a Craigslist or other ad).  Often the CBSA finds the original listing or advertisement and the value paid was lower than the list price.  The CBSA does not think any negotiation took place.  The CBSA Officer did not watch Pawn Stars and does not know that Rick Harrison often says that advertised prices are often not the amount paid for an item.  The CBSA uses the list price as the value for duty and assesses a level 2 or 3 penalty on the basis that the traveler provided a false statement.

For example, the person purcahsed a puppy outside Canada and declared that they paid less than what was actually paid.  Sometimes, the traveler does not realise that the deposit paid at the time the puppy was reserved is to be included in the value for duty.  Often, the traveler declares they paid around $1000 for the puppy when they paid much more.  The CBSA knows that pure-bred puppie are sold for thousands of dollars (USD).

5. The traveler failed to have all their receipts at the time of the secondary inspection and, therefore, was accused of failing to declare goods contrary to section 12 of the Customs Act or making a false statement contrary to section 110 of the Customs Act. The CBSA officer usually obtained values conducting computer research and selected an arbitrary value that the traveler could not disprove at that moment.

Example 1: The traveler did not organize their receipts or threw out a receipt in error or left a receipt in the hotel room.  In an event, the purchased/received goods do not match the receipts and the value is considered by the CBSA to be higher.

Example 2: The traveler went to the United States to pick up goods for a friend and was not given the receipt.  The person asked for, but did not receive the correct value of the goods.

Example 3: The traveler received a gift and did not know the value of the gift.  The traveler estimated the value of the gift (or provided a value that they were told by the person who gave the gift). When the CBSA officer looked up the item on the internet, the CBSA Officer found a different value.

6. The traveler has expensive luggage or an expensive purse that looked new and could not immediately at the time of the secondary inspection provide a receipt for the item.  The CBSA Officer's Narrative Report always states that the luggage or purse smelled new and that the CBSA Officer believed it was purchased on that trip.

7. The traveler declared alcohol, but did not declare the correct number of bottles or list the types of alcohol. 

Example 1: The person purcashed 6 bottles of wine and declared only 5 bottles of wine.  Even if the value provided for the wine is correct, the CBSA has taken away the traveler's NEXUS Card.

Example 2: A traveler who is outside Canada for less than 48 hours must pay duty and taxes on all alcohol.  If the Primary CBSA Officer does not write down all the types of alcohol, the person's NEXUS card will be taken away. For example, we have a client who provided a receipt for alcohol (all purchased at one store).  The Primary CBSA Officer wrote down "wine" and did not write down "spirits" also.  The secondary CBSA office confiscated the traveler's NEXUS card. If a traveler declares 10 bottles of wine and they actually have 12 bottles of wine, the traveler's NEXUS card is often taken. Declaring wine and the correct value is not sufficient.

8. The traveler did not declare goods purchased at a duty-free store in Canada prior to their travel outside Canada. 

For example, a client purchased cosmetics at the duty-free store at Toronto Pearson Airport.  The cosmetics were used during her travel outside Canada.  The traveler reviewed the E311 Declaration Card, which asks for the value of goods purchased abroad.  She followed the instructions of the E311 Declaration Card.

9. The traveler failed to declare currency exceeding $CDN 10,000 when leaving Canada (often to go to Las Vegas or the Bahamas on a gambling holiday or when traveling to visit family).  Often the person could not find the CBSA office in the Montreal Trudeau International Airport (often they were traveling from another location in Canada and transiting through Montreal) or could not find the CBSA office at Toronto Pearson International Airport (because the NEXUS office has moved to a location 5-10 minutes away from the airport).

Alternatively, the traveler failed to declare currency exceeding $CDN 10,000 when arriving in Canada.

10. The traveler agreed to pay an administrative monetary penalty for a food item that was seized.  By paying 50% of the fine on-the-spot, the traveler forfeits all appeal rights.  A contravention is registered against the person and they lose their NEXUS card.

There are many other mistakes that could be listed – these are the most common.  Hope you have happy travels and let the other people spend time in the CBSA’s Secondary Inspection Area.

If you run into difficulty and your NEXUS Card is cancelled, consider filing a request for decision.  Here are some articles we have written:

  •  How Can I Get My NEXUS Card Back When It is Cancelled/ Confiscated By The CBSA?
  • Do Not Pass GO: Forgetting Your Receipts Gets You A Ticket To CBSA Secondary Inspection
  • Alcohol And Tobacco: Two Things That Cause CBSA Officers To Not Apply Common Sense
  • Canadians Living In Border Cities at Risk for NEXUS Pass Confiscations
  • Canadian Resident NEXUS Travelers Should Bring Traveller Declaration Card to Report Purchases to CBSA

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at cyndee@lexsage.com. Alternatively, visit www.lexsage.com.

*LexSage Professional Corporation is approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada