Customs and Transportation

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The University’s Purchasing Services is responsible for the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the University’s customs and transportation function and has direct accountability for the process compliance of the University’s customs and transportation program. Our Customs and Transportation Team is dedicated to the day to day coordination and management of the University’s customs and transportation activities in support of the University’s various operational and administrative programs.

What Your Customs and Transportation Team Can Assist You With?

  • Coordinate and authorize customs clearance for University’s international shipments.
  • Track and monitor shipments to ensure a smooth and on time delivery of time sensitive shipments.
  • Coordinate all necessary documentation required by various customs regulations including commercial invoices, customs invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, freight waybills, supplier statements, and NAFTA certificates, certificates of origin, and various mandatory permits and certificates required for special shipments.
  • Investigate and provide HS classification.
  • Investigate any of your complaints in relations to customs clearance and invoicing and develop resolutions and corrective actions both internally and externally.
  • Serve as a resource center and provide advice and guidance to departments in obtaining necessary permits, certificates, licenses, and authorizations for special shipments according to Canada Customs regulations, including Phytosanitary certificates, health certificates, radiation licenses and various permits from Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Ministry of Natural Resources, Plant Protection division, and Fisheries and Ocean Canada.

Contact the Customs and Transportation Team

Jasmine Tai
Customs and Transportation Officer
Tel: 519-824-4120 extension 52541

Hui Zhu
Assistant Manager, Purchasing Services
Tel: 519-824-4120 extension 53844

For the following customs and transportation related inquiries, email

  • Carrier user account setup
  • Customs delay
  • Freight invoice processing and inquiries
  • Freight/insurance arrangements
  • Shipment troubleshooting
  • Shipping documentation
  • Support and advice on customs and logistics related matters

University's Customs Broker - Thompson Ahern International

The University has partnered with Thompson Ahern International for customs brokerage services, Freight Forwarding and related professional services since March  2016. Thompson, Ahern & Co. Ltd. (TACO) is the University's designated customs broker who handles the customs clearance for all University's import shipments in Canada.  Tahoco Logistics, a division of Thompson Ahern International, handles the customs clearance for the University in the United States.

To ensure all shipment clearance is forwarded to our customs broker in a timely fashion, the University's customs broker information should be clearly stated on the shipment documentation, such as commercial invoice, waybill or bill of lading.

All University researchers, staff and employees who work with suppliers and external partners to arrange international shipments to the University should notify the shipper of this requirement and instruct the shipper to include the following information on their paperwork.

Customs Broker: Thompson Ahern International 
Canadian clearance request:
Advance documents Canada:
US clearance requests:

Imports Overview

All goods imported into Canada, including educational material, equipment and free samples, are subject to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) regulations.  Under these regulations, Canada customs officials have authority to inspect and secure a customs clearance on all shipments. On October7, 2002, CBSA implemented an Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS), a civil penalty regime whereby importers who are not compliant with Canada Customs regulations are susceptible to substantial fees and penalties up to border closing to the specific importer.  All members of the University community must fully cooperate in the importation process in an effort to achieve the University's compliance with CBSA regulations.  

The University's customs team works closely with the University's designated Customs Broker to handle all import customs clearance for all University's import shipments regardless of carriers and freight providers.  The customs team is responsible for providing customs clearance authorization to our Customs Broker, who then submit all the information to Canada Customs to clear the shipment on behalf of the University. 

To facilitate this process, the customs team will:

  • Identify if the University is the Importer of Record for the shipment;  
  • Review import documentation for completeness and accuracy.  Customs team may contact you if any import documentation is incomplete or needs clarification during this process.  
  • Obtain an appropriate cost center for the shipment. If the import documentation doesn't provide any information related to the cost center, the customs team will contact you to obtain the 26 digit GL code. 

Importer of Record

Importer of Record is the customs term for the entity responsible for (1) ensuring the imported goods comply with local laws and regulations, (2) filing a completed customs clearance entry and associated documentations and (3) paying the assessed import duties and other taxes on those goods.  

Importer of Record is also liable for the accuracy of the information presented to the Canada Customs and is required to keep all customs related records for six years from the end of the calendar year in which the goods were imported.

Import Documentation

1.  Commercial Invoice or Canada Customs Invoice

A commercial invoice or a Canada Customs Invoice containing all detailed information of the shipment must be presented to the customs for the shipment clearance.  On the commercial invoice or the Canada Customs Invoice, the following information must be included:

  • Specific description of the shipment contents.  Canada customs use this information to determine the Harmonized System (HS) classification. Generic description such as scientific sample or manufacturing part number is not acceptable;
  • Actual value of the goods (excluding shipping or freight charges);
  • Currency of the value;
  • If the goods are gifts or samples of no commercial value, the value to replace or fair market value must be indicated. The statement of "no commercial value" is not acceptable;
  • Country of Origin information;
  • If the shipment is not a permanent import, reasons for the shipment must be included, for example, warranty repairs, non-warranty repairs, replacement parts, loans, or demonstrations;

2.  NAFTA Certificate of Origin (where applicable)

When the shipment is between the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Certificate of Origin can be used to determine if the goods imported qualify for the reduced or eliminated duties allowed under NAFTA. To be assessed the proper duty and to avoid delays in customs clearance, ask your shipper to include a NAFTA Certificate of Origin with the documentation.

3.  Compliance Documentation for wood packaging material (where applicable)

All wood packaging materials originating from countries other than Canada or the continental United States on any mode of transport (air, rail, marine and road) must follow the requirements outlined in the policy Requirements for the Entry of Wood Packaging Material into Canada by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Wood packaging materials include wooden pallets, load boards, dunnage, crating, boxes, pallets, spacers, bearers, bracing, etc.  Importers are responsible for ensuring that wood packaging in shipments comply with Canada's import requirements.  

It is recommended that any importer department who anticipates wood packaging material in your shipment discuss these requirements with the customs team before the shipment is sent to Canada.

4. Other Government Department Permits or Certificate Required for the Shipment (where applicable)

Import department need to obtain necessary permits, certificates, licenses, and authorizations for special shipments according to Canada Customs regulations, including Phytosanitary certificates, health certificates, radiation licenses and various permits from Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Ministry of Natural Resources, Plant Protection division, and Fisheries and Ocean Canada.  If department needs advice or guidance on applying for permits, please contact the customs team by emailing;

Customs Clearance for Import Shipments of Donations or Gifts to the University 

As per CBSA regulations, import shipments of donations or gifts are subject to tariff assessment as well. If any researcher or employee is receiving an international shipment specifically as a donation or gift to the University, departments need to ensure that, in addition to all detailed information of the shipment, the following details are provided on the commercial invoice or Canada customs invoice :

1) The wording "This shipment is a gift (or donation)";

2) Who is the gift/donation specifically for, including the name of the recipient and the University department the recipient is with.
The University's customs team will work with our Customs Broker to ensure the appropriate HS codes are applied to the shipment and the duties on the shipment are minimized.


All export shipments must have appropriate shipping documentation accompanying the shipment. The Customs Officer in Purchasing Services is able to help you prepare the shipping document.

To request shipping document for an export shipment, please fill out the Request for Shipping Documentation with details of the shipment and email the completed form to

Shipping document will be completed within 24-48 hours after receiving the Request for Shipping Documentation form provided all necessary information regarding the shipment has been received.  Any further changes to a shipment or missing information needed may result in delays of receiving shipment paperwork.

Cargo Insurance

From time to time it may be required that merchandise, equipment and goods are shipped to various sites to assist in our operations, teaching, training and research. Please see the link below for an overview of the types of cargo that can be shipped through marine, air and inland methods as well as their valuations, rates and deductibles should damage occur.


The University uses contracted couriers for small packages for both inbound and outbound shipments. Currently the University's designated couriers are Federal Express, UPS and Purolator. All university's shipments should be booked online using courier's online shipping tools whenever possible.  Here are their links:

Inbound Shipments

For inbound shipments, departments should instruct the shipper to ship collect using the University's designated courier and provide the shipper the courier's name, contact information if any and the department's billing account number.

Outbound Shipments

Shipments should be processed on the University's contracted couriers' web shipping systems with established departments billing accounts under the University of Guelph main account.  

How to create a shipment online

Federal Express




Courier Account Management

Each department has its own billing account under the University's main account number with each courier.  All departments under the University's main account enjoy the preferred rates the University has negotiated with each courier. 

Employees who need to use courier's online shipping tools to create shipments as part of their day to day responsibilities should have their unique user accounts set up under their department's billing account.  

With a user account to the courier's online shipping tool, employees can:

  • create shipments both international and domestic
  • enjoy the University's preferred shipping rates with the chosen courier
  • schedule pick-ups and print shipping labels
  • track shipments and delivery status
  • order shipping supplies 

If you would like to set up an online shipping user account with any of our couriers, please fill out the Courier Online Shipping Access Request Form with your supervisor or manager's approval and email the completed form to .

Any courier's user account holders should be aware that the University's Purchasing Policy explicitly states that use of the University's resources for any personal or non-university business related to the acquisition of goods or services is not permitted. These resources include, but are not limited to, the requisition of delivery, customs clearance and courier services.  Employees must follow this policy and use the University's courier account for authorized university business only.

When an employee retires, is no longer employed with the university or changes position within the university and no longer needs access to the courier's shipping tools, the employee's supervisor or manager is responsible to notify the Customs and Transportation Officer in a timely manner and the user account will be de-activated subsequently. 

Non-Courier Shipments

To arrange shipments by rail, truck, ocean, etc., please contact the Customs Officer at

Dangerous Goods Shipments 

To arrange shipments for dangerous goods, please contact Kevin Ecott at Mail Services ( x52264). Refer to Mail Services Guidelines, #5.0 Restrictions, Junk Mail and Dangerous Goods.