File a Complaint
With Canada Border Services Agency
There is no formal complaint process with Canada Border Services Agency. In our experience, the BCCLA has not found the CBSA complaint process to effectively achieve accountability or reparations. Nevertheless, the process of filing a complaint is discussed below in two parts, the first to help you prepare your complaint, and the second to help you submit your complaint.
Write everything down
As soon as possible, write down a detailed and complete account of the events relevant to the complaint. Memory fades quickly. You can use this information to draft your complaint. If there are witnesses, have them do the same. Should your complaint be investigated you cannot rely on the investigator to question you or your witnesses.
Secure your evidence
If you plan on contacting witnesses or making access to information requests it is a good idea to start right away. Access to information requests can face considerable delay. In addition to any other relevant documents, if your complaint is about a direct encounter with CBSA officers, it is recommended that you request any reports and officers' notes from the incident.
Make copies and keep originals
It is good practice to always keep a copy of any part of your complaint submission. Most importantly, do not submit original documents as documents are often not returned.
Make sure your complaint is comprehensive
Although it is best to be concise, there is no maximum length for a complaint. Be sure to include all relevant information including:
- a clear, organised and detailed account of your interaction with CBSA officers
- the date, time, and location of the incident
- any information that identifies the CBSA officers (e.g. name, number). If unknown, submit a physical description and any other identifying information
- statements of witnesses, their names, and their contact information
- if you underwent medical examination or treatment, the names of medical professionals and their contact information
- copies of any photographs or reports detailing injuries or damages
- any other information that supports your complaint
Make clear the outcome you want
Clearly state your concerns about the conduct or policy you are complaining about and the response you would like taken. If you are unsure, you may ask for “a full and reasonable response”. Common requests include:
- an apology from the CBSA officer or the CBSA
- an explanation for a policy, level of service, or conduct
- changes to a policy or level of service
- counselling or training for the officers involved
- disciplinary action: reprimand, suspension, demotion or dismissal
- criminal charges
Sign your complaint and provide your contact information
Sign and date your letter of complaint, and be sure to include your name, address, telephone number and any other contact information.
There is a feedback form for complaints against CBSA but it is preferable to make a written complaint. If you do decide to make a complaint to the CBSA, follow the guidelines above to draft a letter of complaint. Remember to keep copies and do not send originals.
At the very least your complaint letter should include the following:
- the date of your letter
- your name, address and telephone number
- a description of what happened including the date, time and port of entry
- where possible, the name and/or badge number of the CBSA officer involved.
Submit your complaint to CBSA by mail.
Canada Border Services Agency
607-333 Dunsmuir Street
Complaints that are not local to BC should be sent to the national office.
Canada Border Services Agency – Recourse Directorate
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the CBSA you may seek judicial review in Federal Court.
>> How to file for Judicial Review in Federal Court >>