Canada Border Services Agency
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Contraband Detection

Coordination and Laboratory Services

Border science, engineering and technology at the CBSA

The Science and Engineering Directorate is the CBSA's authority for border science and engineering, as well as the home of the Agency's Chief Scientific Officer.

This unit, formerly called the Laboratory and Scientific Services Directorate, is responsible for ensuring that the CBSA best leverages available science and relevant technology by:

  • being informed of new developments and best practices;
  • applying a scientific lens to business challenges; and
  • practicing due diligence in the application of science and engineering within a border management context. 

The Directorate is a pivotal group within the CBSA because the evidence it provides supports business decisions within the Agency. This evidence is determined either through the unit's analytical work or the services and tools it provides.

The range of services provided by the Directorate is specialized, multi-faceted and diverse, and include: 

  • scientific analysis of imported or exported commodities, to determine the composition and origin of materials so that the materials have appropriate tariffs, excise taxes and/or duties applied to them;
  • advanced scientific analysis of suspected counterfeit and contraband, such as commodities, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and documents, to support investigations and criminal or civil prosecutions;
  • research, testing and advice in the CBSA's selection and use of detection technologies;
  • systems design, implementation, and operational advice for the CBSA's radiation detection network and other high-potential, non-intrusive inspection technologies;
  • research, evaluation, and advice in the selection of biometric technologies;
  • research and application of video surveillance/analytics technology and tools; and
  • mathematical analysis and data exploration. 

Border Science: Going Beyond, Five-Year Vision / Strategy

National Risk Assessment Centre

The CBSA established the National Risk Assessment Centre (NRAC) to increase Canada's ability to detect and interdict the movement of high-risk people and goods. This is accomplished by analyzing and sharing intelligence information with national and international partners. The NRAC is a focal point among intelligence agencies at the international, national and local levels. The NRAC facilitates the timely exchange of intelligence information to ensure the safe and secure flow of legitimate trade and travel.