IMPORTING GOODS TO CANADA

Discussion in 'The Break Room' started by banjoT1, Jun 12, 2019.

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  1. Jun 12, 2019 #1

    banjoT1

    banjoT1

    banjoT1

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    I am located in Canada, but I could live anywhere in the world and likely be subject to national and international import/export regulations. I am leading to a question to forum members, but a quick background is necessary first.

    .What triggered my frustration about this matter was a recent unpleasant experience when purchasing and shipping tooling from CDCO Machinery, Chicago, through UPS to Canada. Secondly, within the last 3 years I experienced an extremely stressful situation with FedEx that I believe was largely responsible for the deterioration of a retailer-manufacturer relationship involving hand-made musical instruments.
    .
    As many of you have discovered when importing/exporting between Canada and the U.S. there is lurking a minefield of regulations, hazards and often stress. I am not an expert of the subject of shipping and Customs protocol, but for approximately the last 20 years I’ve imported to Canada goods for ‘’Personal Use Only’’ as well as goods ‘’For Commercial Use’’. This distinction can be very important – as well as ‘’Country of Origin’’ - goods that are ‘’re-exported’’ - and the application of tariffs in accordance with the Customs Tariff schedule.
    .
    Although [regulatory/carrier] regulations and policies change daily, it is my thought that it might be helpful to develop a visual flow chart or some other such graphic or text, in the form of a ‘’Layman’s Guide to Canadian Personal Goods Importing’’, that could explain the flow of goods purchase into Canada – primarily as goods would be purchased by Canadian folks for ‘’Personal Use Only’’. The Guide would also reference some of the most relevant governmental offices, pubs, contacts and forms that simple folks like me should be aware of.
    .
    Why might this be important? To some it would be obvious, but to those uninitiated about the process, if not done correctly, or mindful of Cites regulations, you could have your $10,000 Gibson guitar seized at the border, or wrongly charged UPS brokerage fees; and/or your goods could be lost altogether.
    .
    Due to a dispute filed against UPS, they refunded the $85.26 that was way too easily charged on top of my prepaid shipping of the CDCO tooling. However, the shipper is also required to be compliant with shipping documentation – otherwise it is us wee folks that fall victims in one way or the other. And, in spite of a 2015 Canada Supreme Court case that centered on the brokerage fee issue, and that a lower court's decision was upheld in favor of the private citizen plaintiff, there remain instances where by default, error, or the importer's [i.e., private citizen] lack of knowledge - gnashing of teeth over shipping befuddlement happens all to frequently.
    .
    So, in summary, it may take some time to develop ‘’the Guide’’ but at this point I would like your most concerning issues from which I would focus on those most common issues to establish a format.
    .
    As you might post your suggestions, I will be taking notes but I don’t believe it’s necessary that I reply to each post.
    In advance, thanks for your input.
    .
    banjoT1.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
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  2. Jun 13, 2019 #2

    TonyM

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    I have been going through import problems recently albeit different continent and different carrier.
    I agree that a flow chart would be useful for import any where, not just Canada. If I were doing it for my country I would include Country of origin, Carrier, Customer type, Contact numbers and email addresses, links to online forms etc.
     
  3. Jun 13, 2019 #3

    trlvn

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    Could you briefly summarize the CDCO problem?

    I assume that the musical instrument problem related to a protected wood species? Rosewood? A fellow I know has amassed a jaw-dropping stash of exotic woods that he uses in constructing ultra-high-end woodworking planes [1]. He builds the planes in Canada but has customers around the world. As such, he's had to become intimately familiar with the restrictions on international movement of CITES controlled materials.

    [1] https://sauerandsteiner.blogspot.com

    AIUI, documentation is critical. You have to be able to establish where and WHEN the material came from. Then apply for a permit to move it.

    I'm not sure a simple guide could really be that helpful. I think this is one of those areas where 'the devil is in the details'.

    Craig
     
  4. Jun 13, 2019 #4

    banjoT1

    banjoT1

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    trivn/Craig

    ....You said .... ''I think this is one of those areas where 'the devil is in the details'. ''

    And, you are absolutely correct. I am very familiar with the Cites regs but I do appreciate your follow-up info and contact name - I'll check into that for related woodworking interests. However, the ''Layman;s Guide ....'' would not take on the responsibility to answer all nor detailed questions and answers - that would solely be the shipper or recipient to research on their own*. Rather, ''the Guide'' would be a general schematic I'm thinking,with balloons and other inserts, that would be ''yes/no'', and ''if that/then this'' gates > all leading through a pathway to general recommendation of WHERE to find specific answers or contacts. Or, for example, to provide a page that would help the uninitiated to understand the Tariff Schedule from which the Tariff Number is taken off and entered on shipping docs that, in turn, are viewed by Customs Agents [who may not necessarily agree with the posted number but that's another matter].

    *The proposed ''Guide'' would be a guide only - there are people of course who's daily work is to handle all of the admin paperwork for such importing/exporting activities of larger companies and corporations.

    With your help - as some of you have done so already - I'll be able to identify what the periphery is for the guide and to only stay within that area to meet the objectives for importing/exporting by ''regular'' folks who very INfrequently do this or who are just getting enquiries for their widgets from potential customers say, from either side of the border. Once again, the uninitiated have no defense when claiming ignorance of the laws governing exporting/importing - it can ultimately be VERY expensive and time consuming as some of us have discovered.

    BTW, I AM taking notes of postings - so thank you for your past and future participation.

    banjoT1
     
  5. Jun 13, 2019 #5

    banjoT1

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  6. Jun 13, 2019 #6

    banjoT1

    banjoT1

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    to Iirvn/Craig:

    Sorry Craig, I overlooked answering your question: ''Could you briefly summarize the CDCO problem?''

    [And to the moderators, I will not carry on a spitting contest or dispute with CDCO on this forum - my response to Craig is not based on memory but on the complete documentation in my records that were created at the time - primarily because I had an uneasy feeling about a potential perfect storm brewing. I do have copies of CDCO [Frank's] emails but one in particular reflects that he was quite knowledgeable and aware of UPS fine print.]

    So, to start - I feel like I am taking up way too much space at the outset here but the following is the essence of my first and last dealings with CDCO.

    What was ordered were 38 pieces of tooling and a few incidental hand tools that included QCTP sets, additional tool holders, and several machinist’s rules – all at about $585USD including pre-paid UPS shipping.

    Although there were two ''preparatory'' phone calls and two emails that led to ''booking'' a convenient time that Frank could take my order, here are the facts:

    On Friday April 12th, I called, spoke with Frank, and realized there was some difficulty with our communication due to language differences. I followed that up within about 4 hours with the typical item part #, description, quantity, extension, etc., of each item ordered. Plus, in print, I gave him the required contact information, Tariff Number, statement of ''self-clearing'' through Customs [upon arrival in Canada] - and requested of him that this information be entered on the correct shipping label form - PLUS, to clearly post on the label that the goods were for ''personal use''; and of course, I asked to receive the UPS tracking number immediately after UPS pick-up.

    That email to Frank was clearly composed, in plain words, and highlighted yellow where necessary. Although I made no request for a quick turnaround or urgent shipment, Frank stated the shipment would be shipped out by UPS the following Monday and that I would immediately receive the tracking number.

    So that was Friday. The following Monday, the 46 pound order of tooling was neither picked up by UPS nor shipped until Wednesday April 17th. Complicating factors, Frank did not provide me with a tracking number at his own initiative, rather, it was necessary that I contact him again – but only after the UPS pick-up. [He said he forgot.]

    Due to CDCO’s Chicago proximity to the closest Canadian POE (Port of Entry) the shipment was well underway by the time I followed-up the tracking number to inform UPS of my self-clearance instructions. Coincidentally, the parcel was awaiting clearance at Customs but unfortunately, a UPS admin error (did I say earlier ‘’perfect storm’’?) caused the forwarding of the parcel for C.O.D. brokerage fees at delivery.

    Upon the parcel’s delivery - rather than risk loss or damage of the shipment - I chose to pay $85.26USD for UPS brokerage - but fully realizing I may have a wrasslin’ match to acquire a refund. During the next two weeks, eight contacts (emails + phone calls) were made with UPS Customer Service without any certainty of a favorable outcome. The 9th contact would have been with the office of UPS President of Canadian Operations, Mississauga Ontario.

    In summation Craig - all of this cluster could have easily been avoided if Frank had been more attentive in dealing with the tooling order altogether, but specifically as it relates to compliance with proper and regulated Customs shipping requirements and documentation. [I subsequently notified Frank of this by a detailed email.] As an opinion only, I do believe Frank – like so many other small businesses, attempt to take short-cuts or ignore proper document preparation that, once the goods are across the border, the purchaser/recipient often has little choice about the predicament they may be faced with regarding goods that are not tracked, not insured, under-insured, lost, and/or damaged. In the end, when people don’t carry put their jobs adequately, its left to you and I, the consumer, to be aware and not take for granted that your investment is being well looked after from the point of purchase to your doorstep.

    In large measure, ‘’the Guide ….’’ - as per the original post - might help people and the lone machinist entrepreneur, generally to avoid similar situations, or help them to navigate when it does arise.

    I hope the adequately answers your question Craig.
     
  7. Jun 13, 2019 #7

    petertha

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    Sounds like a fair amount of the headache originated on the vendor side. With the couriers (UPS, Fedex etc.) at best you typically pay extra dinger fees for them to 'process' the shipment. It could be a 12 gram box of air but they still need $45 to confirm the duty classification & yada-yada. Sounds like you discovered how to self-declare or whatever you call that process that mitigates the courier handling fees. I have some modeler friends who figured this out. Seems like it requires advance phone calls, different forms & different pickup protocol which looked like kind of PITA. UPS didn't go out of their way to be helpful because it was all work & no money.

    I avoid couriers whenever possible for this reason but often times that is the Vendors preferred output mode so be it. If they will ship USPS, it comes as essentially Canada Post. You pay any duty & GST as expected and 5$ processing fee. But often times on smallish stuff it just shows up on your door. Dont expect that on a heavy and $$ order though. USPS has much smarter packaging systems than CP - a series of boxes at fixed rates with liberal weight limits. I think Shars will offer that mode as an option but check with them.

    My preference is to use an intermediary. This is an outfit in Alberta I use (Calgary & Edmonton only thus far). https://www2.dykpost.com/
    You place USA order, it arrives to your 'address' in bordertown USA. it is not a PO box. This gives you the benefit of expedient & often lower cost shipping within the USA. Then the service clears your packages, trucks to their base location at home & you pick up. The fees are reasonable & duty stuff is just emails of invoices etc. Their business model is quite smart - truck Canada shipments to border & then offload into USPS, then reverse ride home as previously described. i also use them for USA bound shipments like Ebay sales. It gets delivered faster than KanuckPost, with tracking and at reduced cost. Why a I not shocked. They also have other transport services including couriers so that's also an option if the case warrants.
     
  8. Jun 16, 2019 #8

    stevehuckss396

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    So hypothetically, say someone needs 8 spark plugs of the 6-56 size. The person at the post office hands me this form. The left side of the form is pretty simple being the addresses to and from. At the bottom i guess i would check "Merchandise" and list them as " Model engine parts", "quantity 8", "Weight 0.5 Lbs" and "Value $200USD". Would that be fair?

    Now the right side is the confusing side where much information is asked for that I do not have.

    So I guess my question is, Knowing what I am sending, How would I fill out this form? If done wrong it seems like it could cause a ton of trouble for one or both the seller and the buyer. If I understand how US to Canada (or else where) shipping works I could avoid future trouble.

    Any advise?

    Untitled.jpg
     
  9. Jun 18, 2019 #9

    petertha

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    I'm reluctant to give you specific advice because I'm in Canada & there are obviously country specific nuances. I tried to Google 'customs definitions' to assist but didn't find much useful. All I can tell you is I get a lot of hobby stuff in from the States & its pretty generic. Its never a customs issue, its just a 'pay it' issue. The link below (which may not even pertain) is kind of similar to what we fill in
    https://www.schumachercargo.com/a-basic-guide-to-filling-out-a-customs-form/

    - not a gift because its not. I tend to stay sub $100 on this & use it only if its truly someone I know. Not recommended for Ebay sales or anything like that IMO particularly because there is an electronic transaction somewhere out there in cyberspace. I hear the couriers have more customs stipulations than USPS so you are going the right route IMO.

    - merchandise seems the best tick box of the available options because you are selling something. Your description sounds perfectly fine to me. Benign words like 'model hobby item' & simple description keeps the package out of the limelight and does in fact correspond to the actual contents are should it get opened up for whatever reason. Problems occur when it says 'model item' and its lithium batteries (potentially hazardous) or 300 electronic parts (mismatched quantity & description).

    - country of origin is dead easy for you in this case but hobby vendors struggle with this & mostly take judicious shortcuts. If I buy a $25 robot kit from the USA vendor, the mechanics, metal, electronics, fasteners... might be from 12 different countries. Some RC vendors I buy from will itemize but only broadly & only on more expensive parcel: air frame = USA, motor = Germany. In all my years I have yet to experience any issues or claims on this. I think they are looking for bad guys not hobbyists.

    - you would have to check but with USPS the value is probably more tied to A) the value which would be returned to the customer if the package got lost or damaged B) then ties into the GST (goods & services tax) the Canadian 'might' pay depending on if it went straight through or went to post office for pickup. GST is 5%. Of course if the corresponding duty classification is 0% (if that corresponds to model parts) then no duties are payable. With tracking numbers giving confidence to shipment throughout the journey right up until delivery, even signature if you choose, some people will deflate the value a bit. So I paid you $200, you decide to do me a favor & write it down $150. It saves me a bit of surcharge, but like I say if the package goes south, then the most I can collect is $150. You have to be a bit careful about this.

    - if you are not a vendor (meaning you are claiming this as business/revenue or something bigger) then its just best to put your personal info down as a shipper. Simple & low key is generally better.

    I hope this helps but again I don't want to lead you astray. Hopefully someone in the States will chime in & you probably want to consult with someone more familiar just to double check.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019

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