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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ABOUT CUSTOMS BROKERAGE AND CLEARANCE

A relative in the U.S. would like to send me a gift. Will duties and taxes be payable?

There is a gift allowance of $60 Canadian per person. If a gift exceeds this dollar amount, duties and taxes will apply to the value in excess of $60 Canadian.

What is excise tax and how is it calculated?

Excise tax is a tax levied on luxury items such as jewelry, tobacco, and alcohol. Excise tax rates vary and are determined by the commodity. In order to determine current rates of excise tax, contact Stockwell or your local excise tax office for the applicable rate.

We imported a shipment from a supplier who provided us with a NAFTA certificate. We have just found out that the goods do not qualify for NAFTA. What should we do?

You should promptly file an amendment to the customs entry. A letter from the supplier should be obtained to explain the incorrect use of NAFTA.

How can I determine if the goods that I am ordering from the United States will qualify for NAFTA?

Only the supplier or manufacturer can accurately make that determination.

We imported some goods from a U.S. supplier and were not aware of NAFTA. We have contacted our supplier and found that the goods in fact qualify for NAFTA. Is there a way for us to recover the duty paid on this importation?

The regulations outlined in the customs act allow for filing of a refund within one year of the date of importation. A copy of the NAFTA certificate and original documentation is required to support the claim.

Can I prepare a NAFTA certificate for a shipment that I am expecting from the United States?

No, the supplier should complete the NAFTA Certificate as only they, or the Manufacturer can determine if the goods qualify for NAFTA.

We sent a shipment to one of our U.S. customers, which was not according to order. Do we need to pay duty and GST when the customer returns it to us?

Providing that the goods are in the same condition as when they were received these can be imported into Canada as “Canadian goods returning”. In order to make this claim, the shipper should indicate on the paperwork that the goods are returning, as not according to order. To support this claim, copies of the export documents (from Canada to the USA) should accompany the shipment as ‘proof of export’.

We received a shipment from the United States. The paperwork used for the customs clearance was incorrect. The value shown was actually lower than it should have been. Is there anything that we should do since we have overpaid duty & GST?

 Where the value is actually lower, you may be entitled to a refund of the duty and taxes overpaid. If however the value is higher, the customs entry should be voluntarily amended to reflect the correct value and any additional duties and taxes paid.

How is GST calculated on imported goods?

GST is calculated at 5% of the duty paid value of the imported goods.

What does “duty paid value” mean?

The duty paid value is the value of the imported goods in Canadian funds, plus any duty that may be payable.

I have placed an order from a supplier in the United States. Who is responsible for preparing the paperwork for the shipment?

The shipper (your supplier) should provide the customs paperwork however it is acceptable for you to complete the Canada Customs invoice using the information from the supplier’s commercial invoice.


We had a shipment delivered the other day and the carrier advised us that there was a delay at the border. Why?

As a broker, we would not always be aware of a delay at the border. If there was a problem with paperwork, or the information submitted to customs for the release of the shipment, the carrier would be sent back to our releasing office. Sometimes the delay could be due to a backlog of commercial shipments, or random checks being performed by customs.


We received a shipment from a U.S. supplier that was short two items. These items were shown on the customs paperwork and duties and taxes were paid on the goods. What is the proper procedure to follow to receive or cancel the balance of the shipment?

If the supplier intends to send you the two pieces that they missed, the original customs entry can be marked “short”. You should notify the service provider that handled the customs entry and advise them of the estimated time of arrival for the balance of your shipment. If the supplier will not be sending you the two pieces, the original customs entry should be amended. Corrected paperwork will be required in order to do this.

What is CFIA and when may it become involved with a shipment being imported?

This is an acronym for Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The CFIA is interested in certain agricultural goods being imported such as potted plants, meat and poultry.

What, or who is External Affairs?

External Affairs is a government department responsible for controlling the importation of certain products into Canada subject to quotas or other restrictions.

How do I know if external affairs will become involved in the importation of my shipment?

If you import a controlled product such as dairy products, fabric, clothing, or steel, External Affairs will be involved with the importation of your shipment. You will be required to obtain an import permit through your service provider (broker) for controlled goods meeting specific criteria.