75% of all cargo imported into Canada is cleared without hesitation. The rest is usually held because of an error in the shipper’s paperwork. However minor it may seem that an urgent shipment of replacement goods are held up because of an invoice omission, there is a method to the madness. Here is a list of the most common errors and how to avoid them.
- You are not on the invoice
This one is definitely not your fault as the importer and there is not much you can do to prevent it. Often the company you are buying from will ‘drop ship’ your order through a distributor or manufacturer. The manufacturer will ship the goods to Canada bill the order to the person selling you the goods, causing chaos at the border. Thankfully your name should be listed on the BOL as the consignee so someone should be able to track you down to get your order customs cleared.
2. The description of what you are importing is too vague
Shipper’s will often provide an invoice with a general description such as ‘machine,’ or the brand name of the product or the stock keeping unit number. While the shipper will know exactly what the item is, what they may not understand is that since Customs rarely sees the merchandise the description will not tell them whats imported, whether it requires duty or is possibly a restricted item. If you’re a shipper completing a international invoice, be sure to be as clear as possible. A good description will include at least one noun as well as a description of what the product is used for (i.e. a ‘CNC machine for cutting wood’).
3. Where was it made?
Customs wants to know where your goods were made. This is for several reasons: the application of preferable duty rates to friendly countries, or the application of punitive duties to unfriendly ones being a primary factor. There are also other factors such as embargos, anti-dumping duties, excise taxes, and countervailing measures against the products of certain nations.
4. NAFTA certificate
While technically not required, it may cost you hundreds of dollars if not provided before your goods are imported. For shippers, please be certain that a copy of the NAFTA is sent with the transporter as it will not do any good to the importer inside the box. A NAFTA needs to be completed by a competent administrator of the exporter or vendor who shipped you the goods.
5. Credit issues
If you are using a customs broker, you may want to check your credit status with them before importing a very high-valued order. They will hold the release of your shipment until you can be reached to assure payment of a large bill. The CBSA will do the same if you are on direct payment of duties and taxes and you exceed your bond amount. To avoid a costly delay, double-check your credit limit with your broker or the CBSA before the expedition of a very valuable order.