Customs fees resonable? I give a resounding NO to that question.
I live in Montreal and I bought a used pair of Sennheiser PX 200 for US$25 and got slapped with C$12 customs handling fee. More recently, I bought two pairs of Cardas 300B interconnects for US$120 and got hit with the same fee for plus sales tax for a total of C$40.
I sold some gear to someone in Canada... Made the mistake of not agreeing about what to do with customs, so when the UPS shipper asked me for a credit card for the customs form, I read the form and had to swallow hard before giving it to him... The oddity was that you had to put the credit card # on the form, and sign saying that if they imposed customs duties you would pay it--all w/o knowing what the scope of the duties potentially were. On the bright side, no charges ever showed up on my card, and the item was received. I think you definitely want to make sure that the item isn't overdeclared value-wise, and to make sure your note in the contents that its used--I think my form said "Stereo Amplifier (Used)"...
The shipper encouraged me to mark it a "gift," but that seemed wrong on a whole lot of different levels...
I recently had a Canadian buyer back out of a deal for some of my used equipment when Canadiam customs told him the duty would be 15% of their assessment of the value.
For items mfg'd in North America there shouldn't be any duty charged between Canada and the United States. For Canadians importing goods from the states we pay Goods & Services Tax and if applicable provincial tax. On top of these Taxes, shipping companies will normally charge a brokerage fee. I have found that Fed Ex is the most reasonable with these fees. They normally charge me about $7.00 CDN. I have had other companies such as UPS and Priority Post charge quite a bit more. Sometimes as high as $50.00. Not bad on the whole.
I am in Canada, and have been doing this for years. The problem is, our Canadian Customs tacks on 15% of whatever is declared as the value of the item, not to mention brokerage charges and any applicable duties. This seems ridiculous to me, as we are supposedly in a 'free-trade' society in North America. I have shipped many items to the USA, and they don't seem to have any of these same importing Customs fees we do.
The way to get around this is ask the U.S. seller to declare a minimum value and fill out the Customs form declaring the item as a 'gift' or 'sample'. Canada Customs NEVER questions the amount, and it will sail through with minimal charges. HOWEVER, keep in mind that with this strategy there lies a risk. If the item is for whatever reason lost or damaged, you don't have much recourse to get anything back for it due to the low declared value.
I tend to take the risk, and instead put the extra $$ into a quicker shipping method (i.e. Express/Air), meaning there are less depots/stations and hands touching the item, hence a higher probability of it getting to me quickly and not getting lost. This strategy has saved me a lot of $$ over the years on Customs charges, and I have been lucky nothing has been lost (yet). Even cheaper is USPS Express. It is a veyr good service, and the brokerage charges are always less than UPS/Fedex.
I like the word "Declare" loosely termed, almost sounds like gas prices every weekend at the pumps.
Many thanks for all the input, you have been very helpful. I was planning on picking-up the item myself...as the seller is located close to the CND border....just a short drive away. Any additional tips would be much appreciated.
I would echo the comments that the duty for gear manufactured in North america is 0 and all you pay is 7% gst. If it is from out of north america the rate varies but is generally 6 to 7%. The other downside is that it is calculated in cad, not usd so you pay more. I agree with the usps and better shippers because some will nail you with a 50 dolllar brokerage fee. Good luck.
My experience of getting stuff from US (I lived in Ottawa, ON) was not always good. I was usually charged with GST 7%, customs duty 10%, and brokerage fee - kinda of unlimited. Last time I ordered several step-down transformers UPS charged me almost $50 brokerage... I noticed that USPS, Fedex, Purolator take significantly less.
If the item was manufactured outside of the NAFTA countries, you'll be charged tariffs. Otherwise only the brokerage/handling fees, which can be quite steep.
As I live near the US border as well, I drive down to the US to pick up my item that I have on hold at UPS or FEDEX in Buffalo. I ask the seller if he would mind writing up a one sentence bill of sale for the item purchased as you have to declare it at the border and pay a 15% tax on it. I declare it all the time; however, the price written on the bill of sale might not be the actual purchase price :)
Never have had a problem in the dozen or so times that I have done this.
Stuff it in the trunk , and tell 'em you we just over to visit your sick aunt!!..And "forget " to tell them about the package in the trunk!!!Works like a charm!!...
There is alot of speculation and incorrect info in this thread.
First off, the threshold for items importing into Canada is $20CAD, $60CAD if declared a gift (yes, I have had imports marked as gifts by the seller without my asking charged Customs fees...if you dispute it, they will want proof it was a gift and you know the other party).
You pay the equivalent of LOCAL consumption taxes (GST+PST) on all imports that exceed this. This is ****NOT**** synonymous with duty. Duty is something entirely different...
Duty is an additional tax on goods *manufactured* outside the USA. "Free trade" under NAFTA means goods *manufactured* in the USA can enter Canada without any duty being charged (note again duty is *NOT* the full import fee. For items *manufactured* (I keep starring this because people seem to forget that it's place of manufacture that matters, not country of origin for duty) outside of the USA, there is no duty on anything EXCEPT speakers and amplifiers (both 6% duty).
So far we have GST+PST+duty (if applicable) as the total import fee payable to the GOVERNMENT.
However, someone has to actually do the clearance paperwork to get this cleared through Customs.
USPS/Canada post charge a flat $5 handling fee, $8 for EMS items. However, this gets you clearance at the speed of "whenever they feel like it". Items can sit in Customs for weeks on end. You get what you pay for.
UPS (Ground). I'm tired of hearing "horror stories" about UPS when their rates are posted on their website for all to see. Here they are:
Remember, that's brokerage PLUS disbursement (2.7% min $5.85) PLUS COD charge ($4.25) PLUS GST on these charges.
FedEx is more or less inline with what UPS charges for GROUND brokerage (FedEx brokerage is actually a little more than UPS). They charge a flat $7 R.O.D. fee for Express shipments.
If you live close to the port of entry, you can also self-clear shipments and avoid brokerage, but I won't get into that.
Another important note for those of you cheating the system. If you send something with a $1 value, that's the maximum amount of insurance it can carry with the shipping company. This isn't always a wise idea, and note that Customs has the authority to question any value on any shipment, open it, check contents, and reassess value as THEY SEE FIT.
I just bought a Linn CD player from the U.S., shipped it UPS Ground to B.C. and I paid GST + PST and the brokerage fee. The brokerage fees were based on declared value, these were the rates I was given from UPS.