Orbit Brokers

Getting Your Personal Shipments To Canada

It’s a well-known fact that shipping requirements are notoriously fraught with complexities. In certain respects, this is just as true of personal shipments as it is of commercial shipments. So if you’re looking to ship your personal goods from across the border, it’s well worth your time to see what documentation you’ll need to enable and facilitate the process.

What Is Considered a Personal Shipment?

Whenever you’re importing goods into Canada, it’s important to correctly determine whether the shipment should be declared as commercial or personal before you begin the customs clearance process. In short, anything “not intended for sale or for any commercial, industrial, occupational, institutional or similar use” is considered personal. Usually, this is a no-brainer. For example, if you’re shipping a dresser for your bedroom in Canada, this would be a personal shipment. But if your shipment is a large quantity of industrial-type items for professional end-use, clearly you won’t be declaring it as a personal shipment. However, sometimes the line may be blurred, in which case a Canadian customs broker will be able to help you decide whether to declare the shipment as personal or commercial.

What Documents Do I Need to Prepare?

Here’s a rundown of some of the main documents to compile in addition to duties/taxes that need to be paid with the importation of personal goods:

  • The invoice should list the goods, detail their quantity in the appropriate unit of measurement, and show a unit price and a total price. The duties and taxes for most goods are based on the value shown on the invoice.
  • Packing List. This should include a detailed description of each and every good you’re importing, listing their countries of manufacture and current market values. Where applicable, you should also state their make, model and serial number.
  • Shipping Documents. These documents are necessary to indicate the details of your carrier and crossing information. Depending on your mode of transport you would either need a bill of lading (truck), ocean bill of lading (ocean) , or air waybill (air).
  • Duty and Tax Payments. The CBSA collects duty and taxes on imported personal goods, and these vary from one product to another. No duty should be payable on most goods imported for personal use, if marked as “made in” Canada, the USA, or Mexico. That’s thanks to the NAFTA free trade agreement, which is currently being renegotiated. Most imported goods are, however, subject to the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or, in certain provinces and territories, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Excise tax will also be charged on goods such as alcohol, gasoline, cigarettes and vehicles with air conditioners. This useful Duty and Taxes Estimator can be used to obtain an estimate of duties and taxes on goods imported for personal use by Canadian citizens and residents returning to Canada. Certain personal goods also qualify for duty and/or tax exemptions.
  • Broker Authorization. If you choose to use the services of a Canadian customs broker, you will need to show written proof of their authorization to act on your behalf. This could be in the way of a Power of Attorney, or another similar official document evidencing the relationship.

Still uncertain whether your shipment is personal or commercial?

Are you still uncertain whether your shipment is considered personal or commercial? Orbit Brokers has been in the customs brokerage business for over 25 years, helping individuals follow the correct steps to safely and cost-effectively import their personal goods into the country. Each Canadian customs broker on our team is experienced in handling personal shipments and saving you the time, money and hassle so often incurred when trying to do it alone. Give us a call at (905) 673-8798!

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