The idea for this article comes from Sarah who posted a question in my forum. Her question was in regards to her elderly mother’s possessions, and how she could appraise the value and determine whether duties and taxes would be applicable. So I decided that I should write an article on how residents of Canada can import goods that they have received as a bequest.
As per customs tariff 9806, personal and household effects received by resident Canada as a result of the death, or anticipation of death of the person, who is a nonresident of Canada, is eligible for duty and tax-free importation so long as the goods were owned, possessed and used by the donor. Personal and household effects can be defined as non-commercial items, such as furniture, jewelry, and vehicles.
Items that don’t qualify – this would include homes or any type of residence such as a trailer or building, and of course any commercial goods, or goods that were used by the donor in relation to a business. Also any goods that were rented or leased would not meet the ownership requirements and therefore would not qualify either. Alcohol and tobacco products would also not qualify as they would not meet the use requirement associated with tariff 9806.
With regards to items which are given to the resident of Canada in anticipation of death, the donor’s death should be reasonably imminent. To prove this the following documents may be required:
1. a copy of the will identifying you and a
2. written letter from a doctor testifying to the donor’s situation.
Before you send or have the goods sent to you, it is important to have a detailed list of all the items you are receiving and the corresponding value of those items in Canadian dollars. This list can be attached to form B4 personal effects accounting document which you will have to complete and submit to Canada customs.
Other documentation requirements at the time of importation would be:
1. a copy of the will showing you as the beneficiary,
2. a certified copy of the death certificate, or a
3. statement from the executor of the donor’s estate.
In cases where there is no will, a signed and dated statement from the donor or whoever has power of attorney is acceptable to prove that the goods were as a result of the bequest.
Please note, some goods are subject to import restrictions in Canada, such as vehicles, currency and monetary instruments, firearms, explosives, radio communication and telecommunication devices, hazardous products, food items, plant products and plants, animals and animal products, used or secondhand mattresses, obscenity and hate material, and certain cultural properties. The aforementioned are just examples of items that could be subject to restrictions, limitations, controlled or even prohibited. As such, it would be well advised to check before you import any questionable item.
If you’d like to read about tariff 9806 in more detail you can consult the customs D memorandum D2-1-5 or call the border information service at 1-800-461-9999.
You can also post any questions in the forum.
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