Archive for January, 2014

Exporting Vehicles from the U.S. to Canada: 72 Hours Notice (updated)

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72heures**As of April 1st, 2014, the U.S. CBP has changed the regulations for export vehicle reporting which now must be done using the electronic AES (Automated Export System) program. If you are an individual or a business seeking to file your export notification in compliance with the new system, you will need to hire a broker or agent to obtain this for you. We recommend these guys.**

What exports require 72 hours notice?

Any self-propelled vehicle; this includes work and off-road vehicles, riding mowers, snowmobiles etc. Anything with a motor that runs on land.

Why is 72 hours export notice required?
US Customs wants to be sure no stolen or leased vehicles are exiting the United States.

What docs are required for 72 hours?
The export notification consists of the vehicle’s title and bill of sale. Some ports also provide a worksheet to be completed and submitted along with the title. Off-road vehicles are exempted from the title requirement but a bill of sale and invoice must be submitted. For brand new vehicles, an MSO (Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin) is substituted for the title. As of April 1st, an ITN # (obtained by hiring an agent to submit an electronic export report to U.S. Customs) is mandatory.

Does the 72 hours include weekends?
For all ports, the 72 hours only passes on business days and does not include weekends: i.e., export notices submitted on Thursday night will only be eligible for export on Wednesday.

The 72 hours is expired, now what?
When the limit is expired, the exporter must report to the office before exiting. Depending on the port, be sure to have the original documents or a photocopy.

Here is a list of the busiest U.S.-Canada ports along with their procedures and contact. Please note that procedures are subject to change!

Landsdowne/Alex Bay:
CBP Alex Bay requires the original title 72 hours in advance (hand-carried)
Exit hours: 8 am to 4 pm weekdays

Transporter must have a copy of the documents

CBP Champlain requires the original title 72 hours in advance
Exit hours: 6 am to 10 pm weekdays
Transporter must have a copy of the documents
CBP Highgate requires the original title 72 hours in advance
Exit hours: 8 to 4 pm weekdays
Transporter must have a copy of the documents
Stanstead/Derby Line:
CBP Derby Line requires the original title 72 hours in advance (hand-carried)
Exit hours: 8 to 4 pm weekdays
Sarnia/Port Huron
CBP Fort Street Cargo facility: fax legible copies of title and bill of sale to (313) 964-7655 and keep fax confirmation
Exit Hours: 8 am-4:30 pm  weekdays
Original title required at exit, as well as fax confirmation page
CBP Fort Street Cargo facility: fax legible copies of title and bill of sale to (313) 964-7655 and keep fax confirmation
Exit Hours: 8 am-4:30 pm  weekdays
Original title required at exit, as well as fax confirmation page
Fort Erie/Buffalo
CBP Lewiston Bridge Cargo Facility: Send an e-mail to 72 hours in advance with the follow info: the VIN number of the vehicle along with its make, model and year (no attachment required).
Exit Hours: 8 am – 4 pm
Lewiston Bridge is the only port in Western NY where a vehicle can be exported (Peace Bridge and Rainbow Bridge cannot process exports). Bring your original title and e-mail confirmation to Room 135.
CBP Pembina: e-mail or fax title and bill of sale 72 hours in advance
Exit hours: 24/7
Original title required at exit
Fax: (701) 825-5980
CBP Whitlash: Vehicle exports are processed through
Exit hours: 8 am – 4 pm
Vehicles can be exported at any port between Montana and Alberta, but all paperwork is processed through Whitlash. Fax your title and bill of sale and keep your confirmation. You will need your original title at time of export.
Fax: (406) 432-5528
See above.
Exports in Idaho are also processed through Whitlash:
Pacific Highway/Blaine:
CBP Blaine: E-mail or faxed copies of title accepted along with worksheet. 72 hours.
Exit hours: 8 to 3:30 pm weekdays
Transporter must have originals at time of export

Thanks to the kind officers of U.S. CBP for providing this information!

Importing a Vehicle into Canada

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So you’ve found your dream car on eBay Auto and must have it? There is only one problem: the car is located south of the border and you don’t know how to get it up here. 20 years ago this would have been a problem as the private importation of vehicles into Canada was not permitted. Things are a little different nowadays! Restrictions remain, but the importation of private vehicles into Canada has been streamlined under the RIV‘s administration.

However, please take note of the following before placing a bid on that El Camino:

  1. Check if the vehicle is admissible with Transport Canada. If it is not admissible, you may manage to get it through Customs but you will not be able to obtain a license plate. Vehicles younger than 15 years cannot be imported from anywhere other than the U.S. and some manufacturers require a recall clearance letter. For vehicles older than 15 years, no recall letter is required but it must be deemed admissible by Transport Canada. Vehicles must also be built by a licensed manufacturer so beware of any vehicle constructed by a hobbyist.
  2. Vehicles constructed in the NAFTA zone are exempt from duty. This can be verified by checking the VIN # of the vehicle (if the first digit is 1, 2 or 4 you are good!). All other vehicles are dutiable at 6.1%.
  3. Be sure you are not buying a stolen or leased vehicle. You will need the original certificate of Title not only to import the vehicle but to export from the U.S. as well. There are many resources that will check the lien status of vehicles for a fee.
  4. The cost:

**please see our vehicle import calculator for an estimate**

The Process

If you plan on driving the vehicle across the border yourself, you do not need the services of a customs broker and may self-clear the car! You can even pre-fill your Form 1 on the Transport Canada website.

Border Bee offers clearance services for commercial importers only. If you are importing a vehicle for personal use and must ship the vehicle, we recommend shipping it to a parking lot near the border that will accept cars. You may then pick up the car and clear it through US and Canada Customs at your leisure.

For commercial importers, please follow these steps to import a vehicle:

  1. Once the vehicle’s admissibility has been verified, you may purchase and arrange for shipping. Vehicles pose a challenge as they require both import clearance with Canadian Customs and export clearance with U.S. Customs.
  2. Arrange shipment with a transporter that will carry vehicles and understands the import/export procedures involved. Ensure the original Title is with the driver or at a U.S. broker’s office near the port of export where the driver moving your vehicle can collect it (it will need to be shown to U.S. customs before the vehicle can enter Canada).
  3. You will need to obtain an ITN # 72 hours in advance of exporting the vehicle from the United States. The 72 hours only counts for business days. We recommend these guys. Once you have an ITN, you will need to e-mail the US port of export a photocopy of the Bill of Sale and Title (with the ITN # as the subject line in the e-mail).
  4. Check in with U.S. Customs before leaving the country: present the ITN # and original Title to U.S. Customs. They will check your VIN # to ensure it matches the Title.
  5. Import the vehicle into Canada: your transporter will need to collect hard copy documents left at a broker’s office on the Canadian side of the border. These documents will include a Form 1 which will be stamped by the CBSA. The stamped copy should be returned to the driver or given back to the customs broker (this depends on the port).
  6. With the importation complete, you must bring the original Form 1 to your provincial licensing bureau to obtain Canadian plates.

**Any vehicle that is self-propelled requires 72 hours notification to be submitted to U.S. Customs before exportation. This includes snowmobiles, riding mowers, work vehicles, scooters, golf carts, etc.**

How to Self-Clear Your Parcel with Customs

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If you got this form, you're on the right track!

If you got this form, you’re on the right track!

Border Bee receives a lot of questions from importers who wish to self-clear their packages.They want to avoid the high brokerage fees charged by courier companies, which in some cases can exceed the cost of the product. While Border Bee offers an affordable and quick alternative to paying those high courier rates without the need to leave your home–simply click here–if you are the adventurous type, please follow these instructions to self-clear your package:


How do I self-clear?

If your goods have arrived at a FedEx, UPS or DHL facility in Canada, you can self-clear the items by collecting some documents and making a trip to your local Customs office. You must wait for the goods to arrive at the warehouse before you can self-clear. The procedures vary slightly in different Customs offices, but in each case a BSO (Border Services Officer) will be there to assist you.

  1. The manifest or waybill: the courier company will need to provide this to you. It contains the shipping details of your package. Without this, Customs will not know what to release. You can request the courier company provide your documents by e-mail, although you may have to pick up a hard copy at their facility.
  2. The invoice: In order to collect the correct amount of tax on your purchase, Customs will need to see your invoice. They may also potentially ask for proof of payment (i.e. your receipt) to make sure you are declaring the right value.
  3. Take these documents to the Customs office closest to the warehouse where your goods are being held. List here. Some Customs offices have computer programs which allow you to rate your own entry. Others will require you to complete Form B15 with an agent’s assistance. You will also be asked for proof of identification. Pay the duties and taxes owing and an agent will stamp your manifest as proof of release from their control.
  4. With the stamped copy of your manifest (aka the Customs Delivery Authority), you can triumphantly return to the courier’s facility. Show them the stamped copy of the manifest and they will hand you your parcel. Some offices will submit an electronic entry for you, which will allow the goods to be released without the need to show t

Note: If you are importing cargo–air, ocean, or highway–we strongly recommend hiring a broker. If the goods have arrived at an inland sufferance warehouse, the process is the same as clearing a courier shipment. Collect the documents you need and head to Customs. However, coordinating an ocean or air clearance with a freight forwarder may leave you with an ulcer. Likewise, some highway carriers are not bonded and cannot bring your goods into the country. This means your goods may be abandoned on the wrong side of the 49th unless you are waiting at the border for it. Other bad scenarios: penalties and seizures for incorrect declarations, overpayment of duties due to improper classification and hefty storage fees for clearance delays.

What if I live far away from a Customs office?

Hire a different broker to handle the clearance for you.

Can I clear goods for someone else?

In certain cases, if provided with written authority and proof of identification, you can clear goods for an employer or a relative. You cannot, however, clear for any personal profit unless you are a licensed customs broker.

Can I self-clear goods carried by USPS/Canada Post?

All goods shipped by USPS in the United States enter the Canadian postal stream, where they are cleared by agents of the CBSA for a small fee. You cannot clear these shipments yourself. You can, however, apply to a casual refund center if you believe your declaration to be invalid. If you are a business importing goods over $2500, see here.

My courier said they will return my package unless I pay their brokerage fee, is this true?

If you are threatened with COD charges at the door, you can refuse the package and opt to self-clear. You may also hire another broker to clear your parcel at the courier’s facility, or better yet, before it arrives so you can receive it immediately.

Can I self-clear my parcel before it arrives so it can be delivered to me on the first attempt?

No. You must physically present yourself to Customs if you wish to self-clear.

Can I self-clear for my business?

Yes. Please keep in mind that if you are importing for a business, you must be registered with the CRA to do so. You can call ahead to save time (800-959-5525) or a BSO will assist you in activating your business number.


C.O.D. Bills. Why?!

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Online shoppers are often confused when they receive an additional bill on delivery. What are these bills? Why are they only received sometimes and what can I do to avoid them?

What is a C.O.D. bill?

Definition: cash on delivery (aka collect on delivery). In the import world, these bills are for the duties and taxes owing on your purchase and includes the ubiquitous brokerage fee. This “fee” is for forwarding the taxes as well as preparing the customs entry.

Why do I receive C.O.D. bills sometimes and not others?

There are a few reasons for the inconsistency:

  • Cost: any purchase valued at less than $20 does not require a customs entry or incur any tax.
  • Your vendor: many websites are set up to include the duties, taxes and clearance fees incurred by your purchase.
  • Logistics: your order may be fulfilled from a distributor inside Canada, even though you bought it from an international site.
  • Courier error: the parcel company may have made an error and did not collect the taxes owing on delivery. Don’t celebrate yet though: you may receive a bill for the outstanding taxes six months later in the mail.

How can I avoid C.O.D. bills?

There is no magic trick to avoid C.O.D. bills. The following methods, however, will help you avoid those nasty yellow tags:

  • Shop at sites that sell duty-paid to international customers. A quick perusal of the FAQs or Terms of Service should reveal whether or not the website’s sales cost includes import taxes. Terms such as “DDP” and “landed cost” indicate that all charges are included in the sales price. “DDU” means they are not.
  • Hire your own customs broker! Most imports will be cleared by the courier company carrying your parcel (i.e. UPS or FedEx) but as the “importer of record” you may choose any broker to represent you. Border Bee is an alternative option!

More questions about C.O.D. bills? Ask us


Ecommerce, Customs and You provides answers to your questions on importing goods, written by the Border Bee staff.

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