Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility


The Canada Border Services Agency and marine container examination facilities:

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) ensures the security and prosperity of Canada by managing the access of people and goods to and from Canada. The CBSA is committed to providing a smarter, more secure, and efficient border by better identifying security risks and addressing security gaps.

A marine container examination facility is a warehouse outfitted as a secure examination site for the CBSA to conduct examinations of the most high-risk containers arriving at marine ports of entry. The Customs Act requires that adequate facilities be provided for the comprehensive physical examinations of goods. Annually, over 142 million metric tonnes of goods are risk-assessed and controlled by the CBSA in the Vancouver area.

The Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility:

The facility:

The existing marine container examination facility, located at an off-dock location in Burnaby, British Columbia, no longer meets the Agency’s needs. The Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility (TCEF) is 55,000 ft2, double the size of the Burnaby facility, with significantly greater capacity for the acceptance and examination of containers. TCEF is designed to increase security through improved risk mitigation, access to state of the art technology and to reduce border processing times for goods arriving at the Vancouver marine port of entry. The facility is located on the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) industrial lands.

The marine ports of entry in Vancouver receive 57% of the more than 2.5 million marine containers entering Canada each year. The TCEF will enable CBSA officers to conduct complete offload examinations of selected marine containers.

An integral part of the container logistics flow in the Lower Mainland, the TCEF will help to reduce border processing times, potentially resulting in savings for businesses, while protecting the health, safety, and security of Canadians. By eliminating a significant volume of existing and projected truck traffic from Roberts Bank to the previous inspection facility in Burnaby, greenhouse gas emissions are anticipated to be reduced by an average of 2,000 tonnes per year.


This major project involved consultations and close collaboration between the TFN, the CBSA, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA), and industry organizations such as terminal operators and members of the Border Commercial Consultative Committee (BCCC).

VFPA selected Tidewater Container Services Inc. (Tidewater), a subsidiary of Harbour Link Container Services Inc. (Harbour Link), to be the operator and drayage provider for the newly built container examination facility located on the TFN industrial lands.

Tidewater presents the goods to the CBSA for thorough examination of the containerized goods. Tidewater occupies half of the building and the CBSA occupies the other half.

Alignment with Government of Canada priorities:

This project aligns with actions being taken by the CBSA to modernize its technology and facilities to deliver high-quality border services for Canadians.

By investing in state-of-the-art facilities like the TCEF, the Government of Canada is helping to create jobs and stimulate the economy, which demonstrates its commitment to working with stakeholders, expediting legitimate cargo, and supporting Canadian business competitiveness.

This investment also forges a strong relationship with the TFN and has helped to position the Tsawwassen Gateway Logistics Park as the location of choice for the supply chain sector in the Lower Mainland.

Benefits to the CBSA and Canadians:

The CBSA is increasing examination capacity and modernizing the commercial marine container examination process to improve its ability to mitigate risks and reduce the average time for examinations at the border. Through risk-based compliance, the CBSA can spend more time using leading-edge technology and intelligence to precisely identify and assess higher and unknown-risk cargo.

Moving goods in a more effective manner improves the entire trade continuum and increases Canada’s access to new markets, thereby facilitating trade with fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets. This facilitation translates to cost savings for those working within the supply chain, which ultimately saves money for Canadian consumers.


The CBSA received $46.6 million in funding for the new build at TCEF and for a site replacement for the current Burnaby Marine Container Examination Facility. As part of the Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan, through the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy, the CBSA (along with Transport Canada) committed to investing in new cargo examination facilities to increase examination capacity, strengthen prosperity and competitiveness, and align with United States marine ports.

Approximately three quarters of the funding was allocated for TCEF including the outfitting of the new facility with moveable assets and state-of-the-art detection technology, as well as the hiring of 42 full-time employees.

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