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commercial importing

How to find a Canada Customs Broker

Quite often I get asked to recommend a Customs Broker. Unfortunately, Due to my position, I cannot recommend any Customs brokers. However, I hope today to be able to help you decide how to select one. Ultimately, it is a personal decision. There are large brokerages and there are small mom & pop style brokers out there.

What is a Customs Broker?  They are someone you authorize to act as your agent and transact business on your behalf…instead of dealing directly with the Customs. As per the CBSA, they can assist with

  • Registering for a Business Number (BN), Importer/Exporter Account
  • Providing assistance in cases involving the Special Import Measures Act (SIMA)
  • Submitting refund/adjustment requests (B2)
  • Preparing release (interim accounting) documentation
  • Preparing final accounting documentation
  • Remitting payment of duties and taxes to the Receiver General of Canada

They provide a lot in the way of services but be aware that while a Customs Broker can help you with the customs clearance process, you are ultimately responsible as the importer of record, and liable for all duties and taxes and any penalties or resulting enforcement action.
Once you select a customs broker, you will need to sign written authorization to allow the broker to represent you.

One option is to hire the broker who represents or already services your supplier. You may be able to receive a preferred rate this way. If you import on a regular basis you can also request a volume discount from many brokerages. I would recommend shopping around and letting them bid on your business if this is the case.
Personally, if I was to look for a licensed broker I would look for one that was a member of the CSCB (Canadian Society of Customs Brokers), was reasonably priced, gave great service and had strong relationships with shippers, freight forwarders, couriers, warehouses and of course Customs.

The CSCB has a great page on their website titled “What is a Customs Brokers and why do you need one?”
linked here
You can also search for a customs broker by name, city or province here
But as always there are a lot to choose from.  Happy Hunting!

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Importing goods to Canada – Personal Shipments

Great Post with tips by Doesitblog on non-commercial importations! here The post covers a lot so I wont go over it so make sure you read it.
Read the comments by LVSfree too…this guy does his homework and is bang on! You always have the option to self-clear goods…
With companies that ship by courier read the blog I linked to at the beginning.

When ordering large items…the cost of a courier may be too high and the Company or store you bought from may also use a customs broker and a freight forwarding company to bring the goods up to Canada. At the time of purchase is the time to request that you want to self clear the goods through customs if you so wish.

Some companies hire a customs broker who like to submit entries as PARS…that is as Prearrival Review System…which speeds up the customs process by allowing the broker to submit the entries for review before the goods arrive in Canada. In this scenario, the company you order from may recommend you not to self clear as the goods may be grouped together with a bunch of other goods heading to central hub to be broken down and then distributed. So to simplify and speed up the customs process they don’t want to have a truck full of precleared goods and one shipment that needs to be cleared. However, this is really your option. With a regular freight forwarding company you should always have the choice to have the goods move up in bond to a bonded warehouse closer to you. But be aware that you may incur warehouse storage and handling fees.

So if you are self-clearing, follow these steps:


1. Once the goods are in Canada and arrive at the warehouse, the shipper or warehouse should notify you and send you the paperwork to present to Customs.

2. You need 2 copies of the Cargo Control Document or manifest…it will say In-bond, arrival notice, or advice note at the top and have your name as the consignee, the exporter’s name, the cargo control number and the location of the goods, description of the shipment, weight, value and piece count. Bring 2 copies (1 that says Long room Copy and 1 that says Customs Delivery Authority Copy).

3. You will need at least 1 piece of government issued ID (be prepared to prove legal status in Canada),

4. You will need the invoice, receipt or proof of purchase like a print out of the paypal receipt. If you don’t have one you complete a Canada Customs Invoice instead. You may need to fill one out anyway if there is missing information required by Customs or if it is not in English or French.

5. The last document you should bring is optional…that is proof of origin of the goods. A certificate of origin, statement from the exporter, or a NAFTA certificate can get you reduced or no duty at all depending on what you are importing and where.

Leave me details  on what the goods are and how much you paid in a comment and I will be happy to let you know if this can help you or not.

6. Then go to the local customs office responsible for the warehouse your goods are being stored at (warehouse should have the address) and declare your importation.

7. Once you have paid any duties or taxes applicable you will receive a release stamped copy of the cargo control document and a form B15 casual goods accounting document. This is your proof that you presented your goods and paid.

8. Then take your released stamped copy of the Cargo Control document back to the warehouse and receive your goods…or if you have arranged for door to door delivery they will deliver once they have received the released stamp copy.

I hope this isn’t too confusing. Again, if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them, just post and I will get back to you.

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