Jul 142010

The person sending the goods in a mail is the exporter.

The person who receives the mail is considered an importer.

Exporters have to complete a written declaration and attach it to the mail item they are sending to Canada. Countries that participate in the Universal Postal Convention use a standard customs declaration form. More than 100 countries, including Canada, support this convention. The convention states that exporters must attach a standard customs declaration form to all items they ship by mail. In this declaration the exporter must accurately describe the goods, state their origin, and report their value.

A false or incomplete declaration could result in delays in processing the shipment and delivery. It might prompt enforcement action by the CCRA.

Duty- and/or tax-free mail/shipment to Canada

If the mail item is:

* a gift worth $60 or less; or

* any other items worth $20 or less.

A gift

A gift sent by a friend or family member abroad to a person in Canada is exempt from duties and taxes as long as the gift is worth $60 or less. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and advertising material do not qualify for the gift exemption.

The declaration should clearly identify the goods as a gift, and should include a gift card or tag to avoid any misunderstanding. For gifts worth more than $60, you have to pay duties and taxes on the amount over the $60 exemption.

For example, if you receive a gift from overseas worth $100, only $60 of the gift’s value qualifies for the gift exemption. You will have to pay duties and taxes on the remaining portion of the value, in this case $40.

Goods worth $20 or less

If the goods you import by mail are worth $20 or less, they are duty- and/or tax-free.

The following goods do not qualify for this exemption:

* alcoholic beverages, cigars, cigarettes, and manufactured tobacco;

* books, periodicals, or magazines, if the publisher should be registered for goods and services tax but is not; and

* goods you ordered or bought from a Canadian retailer or intermediary, but which were mailed directly to you from outside Canada.

When you import goods worth more than $20 that do not qualify for the gift exemption, you have to pay duties and taxes on the entire value. You cannot combine the $60 gift exemption and the $20 exemption for the same goods.

Duties and taxes for mail items


Duties owing based on the value of the goods is calculated in Canadian funds. The duty rates vary according to the type of goods you are importing and the country they came from or were made in. Depending on the goods or their value, some other taxes may apply, such as excise duty or excise tax on luxury items like jewelry.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), duties on various goods imported from the United States and Mexico have been either reduced or eliminated. The NAFTA rates apply when the goods you are importing are made in the U.S. or Mexico.

Goods and services tax (GST)

You have to pay GST on most goods you import into Canada. This is to make sure the imported goods are taxed in the same way as those sold or provided in Canada. We calculate GST on the mail item’s duty-paid value. This is the total value converted to Canadian funds, plus any duties that apply.

Harmonized sales tax (HST)

The federal government has entered into agreements with certain provinces to collect HST at a rate of 15%. If you live in a participating province, you will have to pay HST instead of GST. We calculate HST the same way as GST. The tax you pay is based on the mail item’s duty-paid value.

You do not have to pay the provincial part of the HST (i.e., 8%) on books at the time you import them. However, you will have to pay the remaining tax (i.e., 7%) if the publisher has not already collected it from you.

Provincial sales tax (PST) and tobacco tax

We collect PST and provincial tobacco tax on behalf of the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec. For British Columbia, we collect PST on all goods that are taxable under the province’s tax base. Examples of goods exempt from PST are books, children’s footwear, and children’s clothing.

For Ontario, we collect PST on all goods that are taxable under the province’s tax base. Examples of goods exempt from PST are books, footwear under $30 and children’s clothing.

For Manitoba, we collect PST on all items except books, footwear, and clothing. For Quebec, we collect PST on all items except books. PST and tobacco tax vary according to the provincial tax rate.

The $5 handling fee

Canada Post provides us with the necessary information and prints the forms so that we can release goods to them. In addition, they collect the duties and taxes owing and send them to us. To cover Canada Post’s cost for performing these services on your behalf, you have to pay a $5 handling fee. If your mail item is duty- and/or tax-free, you do not have to pay the fee.

How do you pay the duties and taxes you owe?

Canada Post officials will collect the total amount owing – duties, taxes, and handling fee -: before they release your mail to you.

The declaration that the exporter completes must accurately describe the contents of the mail item. To verify the declaration, an officer may open a mail item to ensure the contents match the description given. If there is no declaration attached, or if the declaration is incomplete, customs officers will open the item to determine the nature of the goods. All mail items that customs officers open are clearly marked as "opened by customs."

Duty and tax owing on mail

We enter the description and the value of the goods that we get from the declaration into our automated system. The system will automatically calculate any duties and taxes owing and print this information on Form E14, Customs Postal Import Form. This form contains the following information:

* your name and address;

* the tariff classification and description of the goods;

* the value in Canadian funds;

* any duties and excise tax owing;

* any goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax owing;

* any provincial sales tax or tobacco tax owing if we collect the tax on behalf of the province; and

* the $5 handling fee.

If there is no declaration, we will open the parcel to determine its contents and their value, and enter this information into our automated system.

What is a non-mailable item?

Non-mailable items are goods that could potentially endanger postal employees, or soil or damage mail or equipment.

Examples of non-mailable items include:

* intoxicating liquors (see the following section for details);

* aerosol cans;

* flammable items;

* corrosive substances; and

* matches (except safety matches in containers approved by Canada Post).

Customs officers will remove any non-mailable items they find and return them to Canada Post. We will advise you in writing of our action.

For more information on non-mailable items, please contact your post office.

What items cannot be imported to Canada?

You cannot import items such as:

* pornography;

* obscene and seditious material;

* illegal drugs;

* prohibited weapons (see details in the next section); and

* endangered animals, including their parts and any products made from their fur, skin, feathers, and bone.

When a mail item contains goods that cannot be imported into Canada, we detain and dispose of the goods according to the law that applies. When a mail item contains both goods that can be imported and goods that cannot, we remove the goods that are not allowed, repack the rest of the goods, and process the repackaged mail item in the regular manner. We include a letter in the package that explains why we removed some of the goods.

[source – ebay]

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