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AMPS Penalties and YOU!

The Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) was enacted by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2002. According to the CBSA website, the “purpose of AMPS is to provide the agency with a means to deter non-compliance by its clients and create a level playing field for all Canadian businesses.” AMPS are monetary penalties for the violation of trade and border legislation in the commercial stream. In a marine context, the penalties are the responsibility of the Master and/or the head owners, the carrier or the agent depending on the circumstance. Most non-compliance results in a monetary penalty with the amount dependent on the contravention breached. While we won’t spend time getting into all the AMPS contraventions (follow this link for further information), these are some common examples we see in the marine industry –

C023 Contravention

Person failed to report conveyances inbound and/or upon arrival.

Penalty 1st: $2,000 2nd: $4,000 3rd and Subsequent: $8,000

C207 Contravention

Master of a ship failed to place alcohol, tobacco and other goods for sale on board the ship under lock or seal and keep them there while the ship was in port.

Penalty 1st: $300* 2nd: $450 3rd and Subsequent: $900

In contravention C023, the party at fault would be those responsible for properly reporting to the CBSA. This can get more complicated depending on the specific situation.

In contravention C207, this is the responsibility of the Master/head owners of the vessel. This is the most common type of infraction we come across and can cause some issues down the road. Once an AMP is issued, a Notice of Penalty Assessment (NPA) is sent to the carrier on record (which is typically not the head owner). The NPA will consist of all relevant information including issuance date, applicable contravention, penalty amount, etc. Unfortunately, this NPA is typically sent to the carrier on record which is not always the party responsible for the AMP penalty. At that point it can become a game of cat and mouse while determining the responsible party and payment.

As agents, we do our best to get ahead of situations like this. The Master is typically aware when an AMP is issued (like in the case of C207) as an officer would have been present. The responsible agency should be informed to contact the CBSA, determine the amount and settle with the vessel prior to departure. In rare circumstances, the CBSA will notify us directly although this is usually not the case. Many times, we are left to answer questions about the AMP months after the vessel has departed. This is the worst-case scenario as we have very little recourse in that situation.