Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Customs Screening and Seizures

I am often contacted after the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has seized a traveller's property at one of Canada's airports. The caller usually has to pay an amount of money for the release of the goods - an amount between 40% and 60% of the value of the goods as determined by the CBSA.

We often talk about why they were chosen for a search. I always ask - Were you behaving oddly showing nervousness when you approached the primary CBSA screening officer? If you stand out in a crowd, you will likely be sent to secondary screening. If you act like you have something you are hiding, you will likely be sent to secondary screening. If you are sweating because you are nervous, you will likely be sent to secondary screening. If you cannot or will not answer the CBSA officer's questions, you will likely be sent for secondary screening.

As passengers are screened and scanned , they're often sent to secondary where their luggage is x-rayed and opened. This is when the CBSA officers will find the undeclared jewelry, fruits, vegetables, meat, illegal drugs, illegal/prohibited weapons, products made from endangered species, pets, etc.

For some flights, a lot of luggage is screened. It is well known that individuals arriving from Middle Eastern countries and South East Asia travel with large quantities of jewelry. When asked if you have jewelry in the checked luggage, it is best to answer truthfully because the x-ray machines will locate the jewelry quickly.

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak 416-306-4168.

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