Remember what you packed in your bags

Remember what you packed in your bags

Secondary referral (last in this series)

Eleitha Haynes
Retired Federal Government employee with years of experience as a Border Services Officer.
“The author assumes no responsibility or liability for errors or omissions in the content of this column.”


The end of the journey

The Border Services Officer (BSO) stationed at the exit retrieves your declaration, deciphers referral codes, and assesses your appearance and baggage. If you are unsure about any purchases, now is the time to ask questions.

Ensure your declaration is accurate

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) often carries out sporadic inspections. Even if you have nothing to declare, you may be referred for mandatory secondary inspection and baggage screening. If your declaration is accurate and nothing out of the ordinary has been found in your bags, you should expect to exit secondary without incident.

Baggage search can lead to body search

Passengers do not have the legal right to refuse baggage or body search. Questionable behaviour or verbal objections may give rise to officer suspicion. Dogs, X-ray machines, and ion scans are just some of the tools a BSO uses to detect drugs and undeclared goods. Body packs and drug ingestion can be ferreted out by officers on the premises or conducted at a hospital under controlled doctor supervision.

Pay now or pay later

An officer has the discretion to
waive overage fees listed on your declaration. However, you will be held responsible for undeclared goods found in your bag. Intentionally deceptive actions such as decreasing the monetary value of purchases, and hiding or destroying receipts can lead to a forced payment, seizure of goods, or even arrest.
Confiscated items can be used as evidence for prosecution.

Safety measures protect against accidents

The BSO is on alert for potentially dangerous items. A firearm discharged, spontaneous bottle explosion, or inhalation of certain chemicals can be fatal.

If you made it through secondary without issue, you can now make your way home!



Things to Consider:

• If you intend to travel with items of value and do not have receipts or proof of purchase, register your items with CBSA before your journey.
• Avoid stressful situations, know your rights, and pack your own bags.


Next up:
Stay tuned