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Author Topic: Canadian customs and camera accessories  (Read 1690 times)
larkis
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« on: April 10, 2013, 12:56:55 PM »
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Could someone explain to me what the customs fees are based on when bringing equipment over form the USA  ? Is it basically HST on the product that is brought over ? Is there some amount that is exempt ? I always seem to be charged in a very inconsistent manner. Sometimes paying what amounts to 100 bucks on a 1200 dollar product and sometimes i get charged 50 bucks on an item costing 70 dollars. While I would like to think that the customs people are not on some sort of crack binge during work hours, it sometimes seems like that is not the case.

I'm also not sure where questions like this belong on the forum so I apologize for putting it in this section.
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JeanMichel
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2013, 01:53:05 PM »
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Hi,
As far as I know, there is no tariff on photographic equipment from the USA imported into Canada; HST does apply. The amount you paid is probably what the Custom's Broker (UPS, FedEx) decide to charge you, it can be more than the value of the item purchased! The same item sent by regular mail does not incur these charges.
Jean-Michel
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Gary Mulcahey
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 02:36:32 PM »
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Stop using anything other than US Post. The big couriers are cashing in on made up brokerage fees. They just charge what ever they like. And I've had the fees higher than the purchased product. That said it seems like places like B&hphoto have brought the UPS and the FedEXs of the world to heel. The fees are all part of the final checkout and are just HST as a rule if I recall. I won't buy anything off Ebay that gets shipped any other way other than US Post.

G
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 02:39:30 PM by Gary Mulcahey » Logged

RFPhotography
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2013, 02:44:58 PM »
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It's just HST/GST depending on where you live.  Canada Post charges $5 to clear items through customs that come from USPS.  If you want it faster, order from B&H and choose Purolator shipping.  It'll get to you in a couple days, the shipping charges are very reasonable and they don't charge obscene brokerage.  UPS is the worst.  FedEx is fine with the brokerage but the shipping charges are a bit high.
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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2013, 03:19:37 PM »
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Canada Customs through Canada Post shipping is highly inconsistent in the application of taxes.

I have had some shipments from the USA with no taxes at all applied and then some with full-up HST and the rest.

It's such a crap shoot that often I will choose regular Canada Post mail shipments in the hope of not getting dinged by the tax...when it arrives kostenlös  Grin
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Christopher Sanderson
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Harold Clark
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2013, 06:33:37 AM »
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There should only be HST, the carrier may add brokerage. UPS is the absolute worst, they can easily be 500% more expensive to ship with than US Post because of the horrendous brokerage fees. B&H charges $8.00 flat rate for shipping to Canada, delivered to your door in 2 days via Purolator. There is usually a very small brokerage amount, the total tax collected works out to a hair more than 13%.

The first time I received a B&H order I marveled at the speed, the courier driver informed me that a shipment within Canada would cost more and take more time.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2013, 06:45:01 AM »
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Chris is right.  The application of taxes is inconsistent.  In general, I've found that on lower value items it may get through but not on higher value items.
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2013, 07:35:16 AM »
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I can echo the others, it's a crap shoot. I (in Ontario) have been dinged with HST for some commercial purchases (KEH) but not others, and I can't predict when. It seemed for a while that they didn't bother with things less than $100, but that's not a sure thing.

I have bought second-hand things from ebay and have never been charged HST when being shipped from an obvious non-commercial seller (private deal), but it's happened with some small commercial sellers too, although the packaging may not have looked "commercial". But even then, it's not 100% certain.

I've bought cabling from Monoprice, purchases always less than $25 value and have never been taxed. I suspect I should though.

I avoid UPS like leprosy, except for purchases from Red River Paper, who seem to have some global brokerage arrangement with them at reasonable cost.

Lately, I have looked at some sub-$100 purchases from KEH, but their minimum post/FedEx/UPS shipping seems to be $59.95, which is prohibitive. I was looking at a Olympus VF-2 for $179, not a large parcel, but at $60 shipping, I'm better off buying new in Canada. Makes little sense. I've had similar experiences with B&H and Adorama, that is, I was looking for relatively inexpensive items and chose not to purchase because of high shipping charges, which I assume consist of high brokerage fees, because the cardboard box and handling can't cost THAT much more than domestic shipping.
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David S
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2013, 08:00:02 AM »
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I too can say that the customs treatment is very inconsistent and that is on photographic devices but also on many other classes of imports.

For camera stuff, I have of late, been relying on B&H Photo and their Puralotor (spelling) service as they collect all duties, taxes etc and the rates they charge are excellent and consistent and delivery is fast.

Fedex and UPS can and often do charge a HUGE fee to process your import so I try and avoid especially UPS as their fee has been $50 to $100 per shipment. FedEx is less for some packages at $10 fee and way more for others especially for Express delivery.

I have only been charged HST at the boarder if I have the items in hand.

Dave S
(Ontario, Canada)

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Ian99
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2013, 09:09:31 AM »
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There is a lot of misinformation here. I wrote this a few years ago on Photo.net and I do not think the situation has changed.

I suspect that the real answer to the OP’s question is that it is a crapshoot. You do not know how you are going to get treated, and it should not be this way.
Like "Larkis", I am talking about importing into Canada but I suspect the same issues apply the other way round. A number of misleading comments have been made here which deserve clarification.

Firstly “camera gear should not be subject to duty”. Well maybe. Duty is based upon the “Country of Origin” and whatever trade agreement is in place between that country and the receiving country. For cameras, most have a Country of Origin of Japan or Malaysia etc, not the USA. When a US importer receives a camera from Japan, duty is paid at that time. If a Canadian then imports that same camera from the US, a second round of duty is payable!

The great NAFTA agreement, which decimated Canadian industry, states that there should be essentially zero duty between goods shipped among Canada, USA, and Mexico, so long as the Country of Origin was also one of those three. Also, and it is a big also, to qualify for the zero rate you must comply with NAFTA regulations including a long series of forms, among which you designate the Country of Origin, the Value, the Tariff Code, and the Tariff Treatment.
Professional importers know how to do this stuff, but private individuals usually do not. The bad part is that if you do not comply with the NAFTA regs then you default to non-NAFTA trade. This is where most of you are getting caught.

The default “miscellaneous” duty is 25%, so you are usually relying upon a wonderful public servant to look up the correct code in the huge code manual and apply the right factor, when he doesn’t have to! The application of the rules is entirely random with no apparent rationale or oversight.
UPS and Fedex often (but not always) handle this sort of stuff for you and charge a “Brokerage Fee” for doing so. I have just received two separate UPS shipments from the US – one was from New York and cleared customs at Fort Erie, the other was flown from Chicago to Toronto International Airport. The first one had a brokerage fee, the second did not, so go figure.
The UPS form shows a variety of potential charges – sales tax, duty, excise tax, brokerage fee, tax on the brokerage fee!, a freight collect charge, and a “permit” charge. A tad complicated.

Ironically, whenever I purchase from Hong Kong (shipped by UPS air) I am never charged duty or brokerage. However with UPS truck from the US, I am usually charged both.
Perhaps someone from the industry can comment better than I can.
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Conner999
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2013, 09:36:59 AM »
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Another vote for avoiding UPS like the plague, Fedex only if have no other choice. USPS or Purolator through BH are ideal. Rest has been well covered.
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nairb
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2013, 09:39:36 AM »
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Never use ups ground from the US. ONLY use UPS EXPEDITED. I used this for years ordering from B&H and never had any surprises. There's either no brokerage or it might be something like a flat rate of $10 or something. Now a days I use the purolator option from them though.

I had the brokerage surprise the first time I'd used ups ground, did a lot of searching online and learned of the expedited option.

EDIT:

See here

http://http://www.ups.com/content/ca/en/shipping/cost/zones/customs_clearance.html

And regarding the comment below. I've never been charged duty on orders from B&H to Canada either. Even when non photo gear is in the order or makes up the entire order. Like printer paper for example.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 09:50:44 AM by nairb » Logged
RFPhotography
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2013, 09:45:06 AM »
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Ian, in all the years I have been buying gear and having it shipped from U.S. retailers, I have never had to pay duty.  Never.  Sales tax, yes.  But duty, no.  Customs clearance brokerage charges should not include any duty charges.  Those should be itemised separately, same as with taxes.

"Perhaps someone from the industry can comment better than I can."

Ending with a statement like that but prefacing by saying everyone else is providing misinformation completely invalidates your remarks.
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Ian99
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2013, 10:50:45 AM »
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This reply is mainly to BobFisher’s comment but I encourage others to view it as it may help with the OP’s confusion. However I wonder why anyone offers knowledge here when you get crapped on for doing so by people who do not read the words written.

Firstly, Bob says that he has never been charged “duty” and so there is the strong implication that I must be wrong in saying that there is duty on imports from the US. A brief look at the attached invoice should dispel that viewpoint. The invoice shows an importation of some photographic lighting equipment from California and clearly shows duty of $6.22.

Secondly Bob states “by saying everyone else is providing misinformation completely invalidates your remarks”.
No, I did NOT say EVERYONE ELSE. I said that that “THERE IS a lot of misinformation” and there is, but not everyone is misinformed, just uninformed and that is the purpose of sharing knowledge on a forum like this.

As there is ample evidence given in this thread that there appears to be unequal treatment of shipments, then I think it entirely appropriate to ask  “Perhaps someone from the industry can comment better than I can”.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2013, 12:55:00 PM »
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As there is ample evidence given in this thread that there appears to be unequal treatment of shipments,


You made your statement regarding duties as an absolute, Ian.  And, as we have seen from the responses, it appears nothing is absolute.  Including duties.  The fact that I never have been and you have is evidence of that.  That was my point.  GST/HST should be excised on every shipment too.  But it's not. 
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Gary Mulcahey
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2013, 02:43:52 PM »
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There is a lot of misinformation here.

How are the above posts misinformation? Are we lying? What was posted was what people experienced dealing with crapshoot brokerage fees.

G
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JohnBrew
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2013, 04:18:51 PM »
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Stop using anything other than US Post. The big couriers are cashing in on made up brokerage fees. They just charge what ever they like. And I've had the fees higher than the purchased product. That said it seems like places like B&hphoto have brought the UPS and the FedEXs of the world to heel. The fees are all part of the final checkout and are just HST as a rule if I recall. I won't buy anything off Ebay that gets shipped any other way other than US Post.

G
Yeah, I got charged $183 for shipping a camera to Canada by FedEx. They said they would only ship something valued more than, I believe it was $700, by air. That was their excuse anyway. What a rip!
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Fine_Art
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2013, 04:59:05 PM »
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It's just HST/GST depending on where you live.  Canada Post charges $5 to clear items through customs that come from USPS.  If you want it faster, order from B&H and choose Purolator shipping.  It'll get to you in a couple days, the shipping charges are very reasonable and they don't charge obscene brokerage.  UPS is the worst.  FedEx is fine with the brokerage but the shipping charges are a bit high.

That is my experience as well. UPS will send you a bill months later even if customs was billed up front. Brokerage is usually at least $20.

Fedex is expensive. They dont ding you on the fees.

US post air is good.
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