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Reply to "Shipping to Canada - "The Resolution""

It’s either repressed memory or I’m just suffering from brain fade. It’s been a long time since, but over the years I bought/imported some items from Canada and I don’t recall doing much except paying which was the most difficult part of the transaction due to currency exchange and international wire transactions. SWIFT code and account number and paying a fixed fee usually solved that. When I initially was looking for information to refresh my memory the list below is what I found. I don’t believe the last four are applicable.

In this particular instance, when I contacted the seller he indicated that because the item was greater than 25 years old and originated in the US there would not be duty. However, though this is true, when I asked if he would complete the NAFTA certificate of origin to accompany the shipment I received no reply. Perhaps that’s because it’s customary that all import actions to be the responsibility of purchaser not seller which I surmised was Mark’s point about this part of the question belonging in another forum so maybe I do need to ask a Yank. Even so, within reason I would do my best to have a smooth transaction for the buyer if I were on the other end and completing a couple certs would certainly fall within that. I didn’t go forward with the transaction but it left me with the impression he would send it on its way Canada post and the rest was up to me. Even though the seller could complete the NAFTA cert if you really needed proof it was >25 years old and of US origin that would be difficult……no original invoices are available for 50 year old car parts nor do most contain made in USA identification.

When I have shipped expensive items to Australia via UPS the only thing I have ever done is include a commercial invoice and never had a problem. On the other end, customers had pay applicable tax and duty but the commercial invoice seemed to be all they needed.

Anyway, there seems to be a lot of variability in what you might encounter with the Canada-US transactions which seems unfortunate to me but I didn’t think a $4k purchase was the right time to learn/re-learn the process but the exchange rate is favorable these days. What I don’t understand is why this condition exists for US-Canada trade/import yet in several instances when I have bought something off of eBay that ships from China with free shipping in one of the so-called “e-packets”, it just miraculously shows up 2-3 weeks later with no additional documentation or fees required.

    Commercial invoice
    Also known as a business invoice, this must exactly represent the content and value of your shipment. If you just happen to toss in a few promotional items at the last moment and they are not on the invoice, the customs inspector may hold your shipment at the border until you clarify what is going on. Also, never declare goods, such as promotional items or samples, as being of "No commercial value." U.S. customs officials may decide to impose a value of their own or may even refuse entry of the goods.
    Yet one more invoice tip: When using part numbers, provide a written description that will help classify the goods for customs purposes. And be sure that each invoice also shows the total amount charged to the buyer for the shipment; never use the net value.

    NAFTA Certificate of Origin
    This was discussed in Section 4.1, "The North American Free Trade Agreement."

    Importer ID Number
    Also known as the Customs Assigned Number, this is used by U.S. Customs to establish bond coverage, release and entry of merchandise, liquidation, the issuing of bills and refunds, and drawback processing. Your customs broker can help you obtain the number or you can get it yourself by submitting Form 5106 to U.S. Customs, available at

    Bill of lading or airway bill
    Your freight forwarder, carrier or broker is responsible for filling it out. A bill of lading is not needed for mail shipments.

    Entry manifest
    The carrier is responsible for filling this out. Again, this is not needed for mail shipments.

    Entry/immediate delivery
    This is used for time-sensitive shipments, such as fresh produce, and replaces the entry manifest. The carrier is responsible for submitting this to U.S. Customs before the shipment arrives at the port of entry.

    Harmonized System Tariff Classification (HS code)