Canada Customs Importing

Canada Customs Importing

How to Import Goods into Canada: A Guide for Businesses

Are you planning to import goods into Canada for your business? If so, you need to know the rules and regulations that apply to your imports. Importing goods into Canada can be a complex and challenging process, but it can also be a rewarding and profitable one if you do it right. In this article, we will explain the steps you need to take to import goods into Canada, from obtaining a Business Number and identifying your goods, to paying duties and taxes and getting your goods released. We will also provide some useful tips and resources to help you with your importing venture.

Step 1: Obtain a Business Number

Before you can import goods into Canada, you need to have a Business Number (BN) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). A BN is a unique identifier that allows you to interact with various federal, provincial, and municipal governments for tax, payroll, import/export, and other business activities. You can register for a BN online, by phone, or by mail. The process is free of charge and usually takes only a few minutes.

Step 2: Identify Your Goods

The next step is to gather as much information as possible about the goods you want to import. You should obtain descriptive literature, product composition information, and product samples if possible. This information will help you determine the tariff classification of your goods, which is a 10-digit code that identifies the type of goods and the applicable duty rate. You can use the Canadian Customs Tariff or the Advance Rulings service to find the tariff classification of your goods. You should also determine the country of origin of your goods, which is the country where the goods were wholly obtained or produced, or where they underwent their last substantial transformation.

Step 3: Determine If You Need a Permit or License

Some goods are subject to permits, restrictions, or regulations when imported into Canada. These include weapons, cannabis, animals, food, vehicles, boats, and more. You should check the Other Government Department Reference List to see if your goods fall under the jurisdiction of any other government department or agency. If so, you may need to obtain a permit or license from them before importing your goods. You should also check the Import Control List and the Export Control List to see if your goods are subject to any import or export controls.

Step 4: Hire a Customs Broker

You may decide to handle the import process yourself or hire a licensed customs broker to act as your agent. A customs broker can help you prepare and submit the required documents, classify your goods, calculate duties and taxes, arrange transportation and storage, and deal with any issues that may arise during the import process. However, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the information provided, the payment of duties and taxes, and any subsequent corrections or adjustments. You should choose a reputable and experienced customs broker who is familiar with your type of goods and industry.

Step 5: Ship Your Goods

Once you have everything ready, you can ship your goods to Canada. You should choose a reliable carrier who can deliver your goods safely and on time. You should also ensure that your goods are properly packaged, labeled, and insured. You should include the following documents with your shipment:

  • A Canada Customs Invoice or its equivalent that contains all the required information about your goods, such as description, quantity, value, origin, currency, terms of sale, etc.
  • A Bill of Lading that shows the details of the transportation of your goods from the point of origin to the point of destination.
  • A Commercial Invoice that shows the price paid or payable for your goods by the buyer.
  • Any other documents that may be required by the CBSA or other government departments or agencies.

Step 6: Report Your Goods

When your goods arrive in Canada, they must be reported to the CBSA within a specified time frame. The reporting method depends on whether your goods are transported by air, marine, rail, or highway. You can use one of the following methods to report your goods:

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which allows you to transmit data electronically to the CBSA.
  • Courier Low Value Shipment (CLVS) Program, which allows couriers to report low value shipments on behalf of importers.
  • Electronic Longroom (EL), which allows you to submit documents electronically using email and digital stamping.
  • Paper Reporting at a CBSA office.

Step 7: Pay Duties and Taxes

After reporting your goods, you need to pay any applicable duties and taxes on them. Duties are calculated based on the tariff classification, origin,
and value of your goods. Taxes are calculated based on the type and value of your goods and include Goods and Services Tax (GST), Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), Provincial Sales Tax (PST), or Quebec Sales Tax (QST). You can use the Duty and Taxes Estimator to get an estimate of the amount you need to pay. You can pay your duties and taxes using one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which allows you to transmit data and payments electronically to the CBSA.
  • Commercial Payments and Accounts, which allows you to pay your duties and taxes using a daily notice, a statement of account, or a third-party service provider.
  • Cash, cheque, money order, or debit card at a CBSA office.

Step 8: Get Your Goods Released

The final step is to get your goods released by the CBSA. This means that your goods have met all the requirements and can be delivered to you or your consignee. The release method depends on whether your goods are subject to examination or not. You can use one of the following methods to get your goods released:

  • Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS), which allows you to submit release information in advance and get your goods released at the first point of arrival.
  • Release on Minimum Documentation (RMD), which allows you to submit release information after arrival and get your goods released at a later point.
  • Release from a Sufferance Warehouse, which allows you to store your goods temporarily at a bonded warehouse until they are released by the CBSA.
  • Release from a Customs Bonded Warehouse, which allows you to defer the payment of duties and taxes until your goods are removed from the warehouse.

Step 9: Keep Records

After your goods are released, you should keep all the records related to your import transaction for at least six years. These include invoices, bills of lading, permits, licenses, certificates, receipts, statements, etc. You should also be prepared to make any corrections or adjustments if there are any errors or changes in the classification, origin, or valuation of your goods. You should also comply with any audits or verifications conducted by the CBSA or other government departments or agencies.

Importing goods into Canada can be a rewarding and profitable venture for your business if you follow the steps outlined in this article. By obtaining a Business Number, identifying your goods, determining if you need a permit or license, hiring a customs broker, shipping your goods, reporting your goods, paying duties and taxes, getting your goods released, and keeping records, you can ensure a smooth and successful import process. You can also find more information and resources on the CBSA website or contact them for any questions or assistance.

Canada Customs Importing: An Overview

Canada is one of the world’s largest trading nations, importing goods worth over $400 billion in 2020. Canada imports a variety of products, such as vehicles, machinery, electronics, consumer goods, food and beverages. Canada’s main import partners are the United States, China, Mexico, Germany and Japan.

Canada Customs is the agency responsible for regulating the flow of goods across the Canadian border. Canada Customs collects duties and taxes on imported goods, enforces trade agreements and laws, and facilitates trade and travel. Canada Customs also protects the health and safety of Canadians by screening imports for prohibited or restricted items, such as drugs, weapons, animals and plants.

Canada Customs Importing: Trends and Challenges

The global pandemic of 2020-2021 had a significant impact on Canada’s import activity. According to Canada import data, the value of merchandise imports to Canada decreased by 10.4% compared to 2019. The largest declines were observed in sectors such as energy products, motor vehicles and parts, aircraft and other transportation equipment, and travel services.

However, some sectors experienced growth in imports, such as pharmaceutical products, medical equipment and supplies, personal protective equipment, and communication equipment. These sectors reflect the increased demand for health-related goods and services during the pandemic.

Canada Customs Importing: Opportunities and Resources

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Canada’s import market offers many opportunities for businesses and consumers. Canada has free trade agreements with many countries, which reduce or eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers on imports. Canada also has a competitive and stable business environment, a skilled and diverse workforce, and a large and affluent consumer market.

To take advantage of these opportunities, importers need to comply with Canada Customs regulations and procedures. Importers need to obtain a business number, classify their goods according to the Harmonized System (HS) code, determine the origin and value of their goods, pay any applicable duties and taxes, and submit accurate and complete documentation to Canada Customs.

There are many resources available to help importers navigate the Canada Customs process. For example:

  • The International Trade Data Program provides customized import and export trade data reports by product or industry from over 200 countries.
  • The Canadian International Merchandise Trade Web Application offers detailed trade data using the HS classification of goods at the 8-digit and 10-digit commodity level for exports and imports.
  • The International Trade Explorer is an interactive tool that provides users with a new way of discovering Canada’s trade relationships.
  • The Global Tariff Information portal provides country-specific information on foreign customs tariffs for Canadian exporters.
  • The Statistics Canada website provides various statistics and reports on international trade and investment activity.


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