Selling to Canadians

I've read about nightmares selling equipment to our neighbors north of the border and would like to have some guidance on how best to handle such a transaction. Is there an exchange rate issue? Also, what's the best way to ship (cables) -- and how are the duties handled? Is it a percentage of the sale price and, if so, do they go by the price new or the resale price? Thanks a lot for your help.
I am a proud Canadian seller/buyer and nerver had any problem even with customer as fas as Australia and China....
I would say the succes of the transaction depend on the honesty of both parties,
Problematic customer could merge of any countries !!!
You could get a look at some previous tread regarding this subject
If I remember right its over a certain amount in Value..I think its $400 dollars..( though I could be wrong ) ..I have sold tubes and or wires to Canada and never had any issue of extra fees at all...But there values were under $200 each..When I went to the Post Office I had to sign a card and I had to estimate the Value of the item being shipped....
Generally, my strong recommendation is, stay away from deals to and from Canada.

That being said, it's best if you can use the Post Office to ship, as they throw the least amount of BS at you. Of course, it's not so easy (though possible) to ship larger items though the mail. Things likes tubes and cables are easy due to their small size; that is the only way I would do it.

In my experience, never, never, never ship UPS. Their delivery time is pathetic as stuff hangs in that no man's land of "Customs clearance" for a very long time (can be week, and I've seen months in some cases), the people you deal with on the phone are of no help, and their fees and ticky tack stuff you will wind up with are criminal.

My order of preference for shipping:
1) DON'T DO IT!!!
2) US/Canadian Postal Service
3) FedEX Express/FedEX Ground
4) UPS
I've had no problems shipping to Canada, or Europe. You need to do it through the US Post Office. On the forms you have to fill out you have to declare the value, and the duty will be paid by the buyer when they receive it. It's a smooth transaction after you do it a couple of times, and there's only two or three forms. The postage will be more, I seem to remember about $30.00-$40.00 to send a cable Express Mail.

I know there are others who can speak with more authority on your questions, but here's what I know and do:

State your price and require payment in US$ - it eliminates exchange considerations for you.

State in your ad or correspondence that all import fees are the responsibility of the buyer (or negotiate a mutual agreement in advance) so there are no surprises.

Ship via US Mail if possible, it eliminates brokerage fees from coming back to you (also eliminates them entirely as I understand), and leave all duties considerations with the buyer. It's also less expensive usually. If the item is mfg'd in North America the buyer won't have to pay duties anyway. Your import form that you fill out when mailing the item will include origin of the item, and value.

If duties apply, it is a % of the price - I don't recall how much but think it's less than 10%, maybe closer to 5%?

If the item is too large/heavy, USPS won't ship it, then you need to use UPS/Fedex, etc. They use brokers to handle import processing and charge a fee for it. Make sure there's agreement with the buyer on who pays these.
Ask for the money in the currency of your choice.At this moment the US doller is about 5% stronger than the canadian.Most europeans want Euros you are an american get US dollers.Wire transfers cost money usualy to the person recieving the money, ask for extra to cover that or dont supply that option.You read horror stories about canadians refusing to pay brokerage fees or duty and its back charged to the sender.USPS is a great service and at the canadian end the reciever gets a notification slip in the mail and can not pick up the parcel till all dues are payed and unless the parcel is refused at the post office before opening and is returned to sender you have no responsibilitys.
I'm Canadian and have bought numerous items from Americans on Agon. First of all, I pay via payapl in USD so there's no issue there. Also, sellers usually ask me to cover the shipping charge so there's no extra cost to the seller, and finally, if duties and taxes are required once it crosses the border they are the responsibility of the buyer otherwise we can't receive the goods. The only downside that I can see is that you may have to fill in a customs form declaring the value and describing the contents, but that's a minor inconvenience at best. I think if the Canadian buyer has good feedback and is willing to pay your price there's no reason not to sell to them.
My biggest complaint- Canadian buyers refusing to pay duties/taxes and these being billed back to me (sender from USA). For this reason I have stopped selling to Canadians unless I ship by US Postal service. I had to cover duties for 3 buyers over a period of 18 months- I finally QUIT offering items for Canadian buyers (except for small items shipped via USMail).
I recently sent via USPS my broken cartridge to a friend ( Agon member) who graciously offered to get it fixed via Local distributor (since US distributor won't do it). That was 4 weeks ago. It still has not reached its destination. USPS does not have a good story as to where it might be. Good thing it is a broken cartridge!

Although I have received a package successfully in the past from a same friend.
AS an honest buyer and a Canadian it is hard not to take offence to be grouped in with people who don,t take responsability for the full cost of importing items purchased . Really boils down to people not knowing the obligations of and legalities of duties and brokerage fees . The duty is not built by cost of item but original country of manufacture will determine the percentage of duty and the value is the price of the sale . Many products are excluded if made in Canada or the US because of Nafta rules . The real added costs come in the form of brokerage fees because when products are shipped across the border shipping companies do not always use or have their own brokers to produce paperwork and clearance of item . If an item is shipped fed ex ground with the perceived thought of saving money on shipping a seperate broker is used and 50 to a hundred dollar fee is added . The same item shipped fed ex air although initially more expensive to ship, the brokerage fees are built in because when item is air shipped they actually use there own brokerage set up . You get your item way faster with less handling and no surprise fees afterwards and cheaper in the long run . The added duty is dependant upon the country of manufacture and is and should be the total responsability of the BUYER . I have yet to run into any disreputal dirtbags selling on this site or others so far and thankfully so . However if and when it does happen to me I won,t group him or her in with the Americans or Canadians but rather in that minority which nationality is not their common thread but rather dishonesty is . Unfortunately those few will always be lerking . I really enjoy this site and beleive the good and honest people far outway the "few" .
I have sent letters to Canada and in some cases it has taken weeks to reach their destination. I can offer no explanation.
Maybe they forgot to feed the sled dogs eh?
On the other hand I have had smooth transactions as well.
I've never had any issues in selling to Canada. The key is to know what's involved and agree on who pays for what. Same as you would for a US deal. There's a little more effort involved sometime (is to deal with the post office forms), but that's hardly enough to decline good money from an honest trader.
There are extensive threads on this in the archives.

Here are a few quick points. (I'm in Canada by the way)

Canada and the U.S.A. are each other's largest trading partners. Commercial buyers/sellers have the routine down pretty well. Generally speaking, problems are more likely to arise when you get inexperienced or unknowledgeable people involved in the process.

If everybody knows what they are doing, ther is no reason not to sell to a Canadian.

If people know what they're doing, the only difference an American should notice in selling to a Canadian is that they have to fill out a customs declaration form when the shipment is sent. (It's more complicated at the Canadian end but that's a different story)

So here's what "should" happen in a good transaction.

The American advertises on Audiogon. The price is advertised on Audiogon is in U.S. dollars.

The Canadian sends payment in U.S. dollars for whatever amount was negotiated: eg. price of product, shipping, etc., in whatever form was negotiated, eg. money order, paypal, etc.

Payment clears in the U.S.

The American ships the product in whatever way was negotiated, eg. postal service, Fedex, UPS (a.k.a. "oops"), wagon train, etc. (Well, maybe I was kidding about wagon trains to Canada. Obviously, you only use that for U.S. shipments from east of the Mississippi to California)

In shipping the product, the American has to fill out a customs declaration form. It will state the name and address of the buyer and seller, the value of the product and the country of manufacture.

The postal service, FedEx, UPS or wagon train delivers to the Canadian address.

The Canadian pays: (1) a brokerage fee to the shipper. If you use a premium shipping service, the brokerage is included in the shipping fee. If you use standard delivery service, it's a separate charge at the buyer's end. (2) duty, if the product is not covered by free trade. Duty is based on what the product is categorized as according to government duty schedules; (3) taxes to the government based upon the value of the goods as stated in the customs declaration.

All of these things have to be paid by the buyer before the shipper gives the package to the Canadian.

End of story.

So from the point of view of the American, the only thing that is different between selling to a Canadian and selling to another American is the necessity of completing a customs declaration form when shipping.

Now what can go wrong. Well, anything can go wrong. However, I will suggest three general things.

One is fraud, and that is no different whether you're selling domestically or internationally, although international fraud is harder for the average person to remedy. So make sure you have proper payment before shipping.

The second is shipping problems such as lost shipments or damage. This has nothing to do with the buyer or seller and is no more likely whether you're selling domestically or internationally. In fact, you're less likely to lose something when shipping internationally because there's more paperwork to trace something. And the Canadian authorities are very interested in tracing things since they collect tax on it! Damage, on the other hand, is partly a function of how much something is handled. Something may travel farther going across the U.S. domestically than to a place in Canada close to where you live. Going to Canada doesn't necessarily mean more damage.

The third set of problems are the buyer/seller problems, typically caused by the lack of knowledge or experience. This usually involves a lack of knowledge by the Canadian about the extra brokerage fees, duties and taxes. So they refuse to accept shipment and the shipper then looks to the American to charge back the brokerage fees.

In order to minimize problems when selling to a Canadian, make the points explicitly during negotiations. Tell them that the price is in U.S. dollars. (They're supposed to know but they may not) Tell them that they will be charged and are responsible for brokerage fees, duties and taxes and that these will be collected by the shipper upon delivery. It has nothing to do with you, the seller, and is an extra charge on top of the purchase/shipping price they paid to you. If they pay for a premium shipping service, brokerage fees would have been paid when the money for shipping was sent to you, so this could be eliminated. If the product was manufactured in North America, there would be no duty due to free trade. Otherwise, duty would be collected at the door. Taxes, however, are unavoidable in Canada. They will be charged this at the door.

If they know these things in advance, there are no surprises, so delivery should not be refused at the door. They would (should) have factored this in when deciding whether to purchase in the first place.

To get back to your original post:

Get payment in U.S. dollars. Let the Canadian do the money exchanging bit.

Ship cables with the postal service. It's quickest, cheapest and easiest.

Duties, if any, are not your problem.

Let the Canadian know he may have to pay extra brokerage, duties and taxes on top of what he paid you and that it will be collected upon delivery,... and does he still want to purchase taking these extra charges into account.

The brokerage fee is determined by the shipper. Tell the Canadian to consult with the shipper to find out what it is. He typically chooses the shipper.

Duties are fixed based upon the product category. It's unrelated to value or cost.

Taxes are based upon value, not original or resale price. The government will use the resale price as the value however, unless they suspect fraud. So it you ship a Levinson amp and say it's value is $100 in the customs declaration, you and the Canadian buyer better hope the customs officer is not an audiophile. They will see what may be a fraud and will charge the Canadian taxes on what they think the real value is. And then the FBI and the RCMP (in Canada) may suspect you're part of a larger smuggling operation and all of a sudden there's a wire tap on your phone.
I've had similar poor experiences shipping to Canada as others here have claimed. First, it can be done, but you MUST use USPS to avoid the back charges of non-customs paying Canadian folks like Upgrade1394 had to deal with. I was also burnt using Fed Ex. USPS will not deliver if the customs are not paid.

I have also had USPS officials tell me that shipping to Canada is tougher than shipping anywhere else in the world....thanks to 9/11. I've shipped all over the world, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Hong Kong, etc. When filling out the customs declaration form for shipping to Canada, be very, very clear about what you are shipping and the value. Do NOT underdeclare the value for customs, declare EXACTLY for what you are insuring it for, and it should turn out OK.

Thanks everyone for all of your insight. Here's something that's very strange. My wife called the USPS customer service department today and was told by a woman who spoke with a heavy accent that the insurance limit is -- get this -- $675. So that makes this service pretty useless unless the buyer agrees to assume all risks. So this seems to be a nightmare indeed.
If the item is mfg'd in North America the buyer won't have to pay duties anyway.

Actually, only if it's originaly manufactured in Canada(Bryston, Classe, YBA, etc) would a Canadian buyer not have to pay duty on it.

I don't know what the weight restriction is for USPS, but I've had a 40lb cd player(50lbs total) shipped up here thru USPS with no trouble whatsoever.

Incidently, if you do(as an American seller) have duties charges redirected back to you, be sure to inform the buyer before assuming they're trying to avoid paying them.
I had an amp shipped from a reputable seller in ohio and thought I had covered all costs when it arrived.
However, it was only when I contacted the buyer months later did he inform me of the charges.
I was stunned!
Naturaly I reimbursed him(and purchased the second amp).
9rw: what relevance does the "woman who spoke with a heavy accent" have here?
When customs is involved you never know what's going to happen.

I still don't understand this phenomenon. Twice I purchase gear from Canada and received it only to get a bill from UPS for about $20-$30 a month later for shipping charges even though I had paid shipping to the seller and UPS delivered it w/o notifying me there would be extra charges. Calling them yielded no results. I just decided not to pay and after a while the bills stopped coming. Who knows if it ever showed up on my credit report.
""Actually, only if it's originaly manufactured in Canada(Bryston, Classe, YBA, etc) would a Canadian buyer not have to pay duty on it. ""

No duties on anything manufactured in Canada or US and I think even Mexico.Just taxes GST in all provinces and GST and PST in a few.
All else fair game for duties/taxes....
With that being said INCONSISTENCY still rules the day at customs and border crossings.
Mikeyc8: It has to do with a person employed in customer service not being able to communicate. She couldn't understand my wife and my wife couldn't understand her. So we're not certain about the accuracy of what she told my wife regarding the $675 insurance limit. Does that sound reasonable to you?

Someone employed by the USPS shouldn't be English-challenged. No need to get all riled up or defensive.
Several people have mentioned it but I'll say it again. Don't ship UPS because it's very possible to be backbilled on the customs charges. I sold a camera once to a guy in Canada and he refused to pay the custom charges even though we'd spoken about them. You really have no worthwhile options except to pay. And it wasn't a trivial amount. That was on top of all the forms I had to obtain fill out to start with. USPS will save you the hassle.

She couldn't understand my wife and my wife couldn't understand her. So we're not certain about the accuracy of what she told my wife regarding the $675 insurance limit.

If the heavy accent was such a problem why are you posting the "info"?
-Or why didn't you simply look online?
It took me all of ten seconds to find out USPS insures packages up to $5000.

Does that sound reasonable to you?
I had a look at the USPS website. The insurance limit for priority mail to Canada is $675 as the customer clerk said. However, you can insure for more than that to other countries. I have to say that I am mightily surprised. Perhaps you can obtain excess insurance from another insurer but it seems too much trouble to me. I didn't look to see if there is an insurance limit higher than $675 for services other than the priority mail service.
Mr_Man: Please note the response from Markphd. So you can see there is some confusion as the representative failed to mention any other insurance options. So my reaction seems pretty reasonable.
I too have experience with insurance limits at the USPS. In my case I couldn't buy any insurance for a $100 accessory shipping Priority Mail to Vietnam. Also, in my experience with the USPS web site, though convenient and quick, what you find there isn't always accurate vs what happens when you go into the post office. May be user error in my case . . . but wading though all the options and international regulations is confusing.
So far, never had a problem with UPS. They have always collected duties and brokerage (UPS ground only) when delivered. Last package from Fedex, they said my address doesn't exist so I had to pick it up. Clerk at the desk, who couldn't have been more than 18, released the package without charges, even though I asked. That was just before I moved. That was just one of several screw-ups and, ever since, I've also insisted that senders do not use Fedex because of their local incompetence. Much later, I found out they had been trying to bill me. Should have heard if the sender got tagged.

Also got charged duty on a Sonic Frontiers (Canadian) preamp. Sender filled out form incorrectly and put that in the comments instead of the country of origin. I was told my only recourse was to get the manufacturer to send a note. Duty can be much more for Non-US countries so, on used items from the US, the country of origin should be ignored, unless it was made in Canada.

Damage insurance is not an option up here on used items unless it is packaged by the courier. Even then, they'll only cover it if there is external damage. That includes Fedex, UPS and DHL.
Bdgregory: I agree. The internet is great, but for some things I prefer getting the information from a real person. Nice system.
I have purchased and sold quite a bit from the US. I'm Canadian and every time when it was UPS,I had to pay brokerage fees and tax at my door before they give me my package.

Now when Fedex was used they just gave me the package and then later sent me a bill in the mail for brokerage fees and tax. If I do not pay the bill, it will then have to be paid by the shipper.

But FEDX may be double dipping. One time I bought an amp form a gentleman in the US and months later he sent me an email say FEDX sent him the bill and he paid it.
Well it's a good thing I keep my paid bills for a while as I was able to sent the gentleman a copy of the bill showing it was paid and a few calls to FEDX cleared things up.

Perhaps a few people are not getting ahold of the buyer before they pay to see what the problem is.

Of course there are lowlife people in every country.

USPS is great for both parties on smaller stuff.
I have purchased and sold quite a bit from the US. I'm Canadian and every time when it was UPS,I had to pay brokerage fees and tax at my door before they give me my package.

Now when Fedex was used they just gave me the package and then later sent me a bill in the mail for brokerage fees and tax. If I do not pay the bill, it will then have to be paid by the shipper.
interesting, and explains my one "scare" with brokerage fees. I sent a pair of speakers to a Canadian buyer using Fedex, having agreed up front that he would pay all fees. 2 months later I receive an email from Fedex saying I am being charged x$ for brokerage and duties on my item as they were unable to collect it from the receiver. I sent an email to the buyer asking him what was up, and he promptly replied he had paid the fees to Fedex 2 days previous. I never hear from Fedex again. It seems UPS's practice is a more favorable one from the US shipper's perspective . . .