In a global marketplace, it is entirely likely that you will find yourself needing to import goods from another country. While free trade agreements have made the process considerably easier in recent years, there are still rules that need to be followed. Here is what you need to know.
Register With the Canada Revenue Agency
The Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency are responsible for the oversight of the import process. Your first step is to obtain a business number from the CRA. You can get the number personally or through a company, and there is no charge. The number is used in all of your import documents.
After identifying what you want to import, you need to decide if you want to prepare the paperwork yourself or use the services of a customs broker. Using a customs broker makes the import process much easier, but its services are not free. If you choose to use a broker, you will want to ensure it is duly licensed by the CBSA.
Doing it Yourself
If you are comfortable dealing directly with the CBSA rather than a customs broker, you will need to gather some information on the goods you are importing and make sure they are legal in Canada. To do this, first determine the country of origin of the goods. Then, determine whether the goods you intend to import are subject to any permits, restrictions, or regulations by the CBSA or other government departments.
The next step is to determine the 10-digit tariff classification number. Most countries, including Canada, the United States, China, and India, use the Harmonized System as the basis of their classifications systems.
Once you have the country of origin and the classification number, you can determine the applicable rate of duty by using the Canadian Customs Tariff. This step is where you also determine if a bilateral or multilateral trade agreement is applicable to your case.
Remember also that the goods and services tax, or GST, at a rate of 5%, is payable on most imported goods.
Shipment and Release
At this point, you are ready to order your goods and have them shipped to Canada at a CBSA office where you want the goods released. Most shipments are released at the CBSA office where they arrive in Canada; however, if you use a CBSA-bonded carrier, you may choose one that is closer to your business.
Once your goods arrive, you need to go to the office where they are located and fill out the B3-3 Canada Customs Coding Form. There, you present your paperwork, pay your duties, and retrieve your goods.
You must keep all of your records for six years after the transaction since it may be reviewed by the CBSA. For example, you will want to keep information relating to the quantities received, price paid, the country of origin, and the vendor.