Archive for June, 2016

NAFTA, TPL and You

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What is the TPL?

Tariff Preference Level: A specific exception under NAFTA relating to garments (and some other commodities) that use fabric from foreign sources. This covers most clothing for any vendors that are only involved in the cutting and sewing of their clothing production.

Why does this concern me?

If you are involved in the importation of clothing made within the USA or Mexico, an extra document will be needed in order to avoid paying duty.

Are all American-made clothes subject to TPL?

No, only goods that are made from fabric sourced outside the NAFTA zone. Certain fabrics, such as linen and silk, are also exempt regardless of where the fabric originates.

How do I know if the goods I am buying qualify for TPL?

You don’t– but your seller does. Make sure before placing any orders that your seller understands their TPL eligibility as a producer and can supply an Exporter’s Certificate of Non-Originating Textile Goods.

What is required to apply for a TPL permit?

Your customs broker will need a copy of your commercial invoice and the Exporter’s Certificate of Non-Originating Textile Goods to obtain your TPL permit.

Are the permits free?

No, they range in price based on the value of the order. Please find a schedule below:
image (1)

Can I apply for TPL permits anytime?

Yes, although the permits are subject to a first-come, first-serve quota that typically fills up halfway through the year.

I imported goods that qualify for TPL, but did not obtain the permit at time of import and I am stuck paying the duty. Is there any way out?

Yes, if you have the Exporter’s Certification, you may still obtain the permit and file a claim to obtain the duty back. However, if the quota for the year in which the goods were imported is full then the permit will not be issued meaning it will be too late for the refund.

The Canadian Importer Number and You

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45 million parcels and pallets enter Canada each year, and to keep track of all that cargo, Customs uses your business number (or ‘importer number’) for identification and compliance. Simple enough! but who is the importer? When is a business number required, and who is eligible to obtain one? Please find our answers to the most common questions below:

Do you need a business number to import?

Yes, all commercial cargo imported into Canada requires a business number. Please note the CBSA’s definition of ‘commercial’ is extremely broad: anything for “commercial, institutional, or occupational use” is considered commercial. Personal orders of a high volume (e.g. 100x of the same item) or peculiar nature (industrial machinery) may also require a business number regardless of their end use.

What is the difference between a business number and an importer number?

None. The business number is the master number used by Ottawa to track Canadian business activity, and the importer number is a sub-account (business number + RM0001) that is activated when your business imports commercial goods.

Your business number -> 888888888

Your business number for importing -> 888888888RM0001

The numbers currently only start with 1, 7 or 8 and stretch to nine digits. Other sub-accounts of the business number include payroll, GST/HST, and Corporate reporting.

Why is the business number important?

As the CBSA now conducts most of its compliance checks following importation, the business number allows Customs to release cargo and audit later. As well, since verification is required to obtain an importer number, it eliminates confusion or debate about who is responsible when a Customs problem does arise.

What is a business number?

A business number is a nine-digit identification number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency to all active businesses in Canada. The number itself consists of four distinct accounts (RM0001, RT0001, RS0001 and RC0001). The business number is largely used by Ottawa and other government agencies to track business activity and is akin to a social insurance number for a company.

Who should apply for an importer number?

It is typically the buyer of the goods who is responsible for each import, unless the seller has stated that they will take responsibility for duties and taxes. In the latter case, the seller will need to register as a non-resident importer before they can complete Customs clearance for their client.

Am I eligible to obtain an importer number?

Any Canadian resident or non-resident business is eligible for an importer number.

We are not registered for GST, do we have a business number?

Yes, all registered companies in Canada are issued a business number, regardless of their GST status.

We’ve been shipping to Canada for years, why do we need a business number now?

Parcels, which are four times more common than pallets, undergo an expedited release process and due diligence is often not exercised. Many non-resident companies are active in Canada for years before their first formal release is required. If your company has never needed a Canadian business number before, this is likely why.

Need a business number?


Importing clothes into Canada

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Garments are one of the most popular items imported into Canada–and one of the most protected–with duty rates averaging 17.5% and legislation (particularly for NAFTA-sourced goods) reaching epic levels. That said, no specific permits are required to import textiles or garments. Assuming you have already found a vendor overseas, please follow the below check list to assure a smooth importing process.

Importing difficulty Easy
Classification Header Chapters 61 or 62
Duty rate 17-18%
Tax rate 5%
Additional Requirements Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations (post-import)
Shipping method Ocean or air freight
Sources  Anywhere
  1. Vendor communication: ensure the goods are marked with the country of manufacture in advance of shipping (this can be on the label). If the garments or textiles arrive without labelling, you could face penalties as well as the requirement to label all of the articles before they are released.
  2. Duty reduction: are the clothes made in Europe, the NAFTA zone or a GPT nation? Ask your vendor if the goods qualify for duty-reduction and ensure they provide the correct certification to take advantage of the lower duty rate.
  3. Shipping and customs: Is your seller handling shipping for you? If not, please contact Border Bee for any freight orders you need help shipping.
  4. Pay the duty: as mentioned, duty on garments is steep and there is little you can do about it. Even garments made in the USA and Europe must meet additional requirements for duty-free entry.

That’s it! When the clothes arrive in Canada, your customs broker will pay the duties and release the package. In the case of small parcels, the goods will bed delivered once the items are released. For freight, your broker may need to arrange the local delivery.

More questions? Need help shipping or importing your orders? contact us


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

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