Posts Tagged ‘canada’

Getting a duty refund for online imports

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Buying goods online poses a few problems–most related to the fact that you cannot see what you are buying. Many dresses show up that do not fit, and many engines that do not work. These items are usually simple enough to return to the vendor for a refund–however, what happens to the taxes and duties paid on the items if they were imported? Despite a fairly simple refund process offered by the CBSA, thousands of dollars in potential refunds go unclaimed. This article will guide you through the simple process of obtaining the refund (or how to hire us to file the claim for you).
The process is fairly simple: as long as you have proof that the seller refunded you for the item and proof that the item was returned to the sender, all you need to do is complete one form and mail it off to your local Casual Refund Center.

Your import receipt should resemble this

Sample import receipt

Filing your claim
You will need:
1. The import receipt or invoice
2. Proof of refund:
-credit note or e-mail receipt from the seller refunding your purchase
3. Proof of return:
-a waybill
-receipt for shipping
-any document from a transport company that describes the goods and provides a date of export

Don’t have any of these documents? 
Don’t despair–we recommend contacting the site that sold you the goods as they often have these records on hand. They should be able to forward this to you by e-mail. If you paid the taxes at the door but did not get an import receipt– you can still call the courier and have them send you a copy. Here are the most popular carriers:
UPS: 800-742-5877
FedEx: 800-GO-FEDEX
DHL: 855-345-7447

Wishing you had known this before returning those winter tires six months ago? Its not too late! Refund claims will still be accepted one year following the date of the original importation.
If you have the documents you need, you can follow this link to fill out CBSA Form B2G. Sign it, stamp it and send it off. If approved, you should receive a cheque in a couple of weeks.


CITES Permits for Antiques

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European CITESCITES is an international organization that exists to control the trade and exchange of endangered species. What this means is that if you are trying to import any endangered fauna or flora (or more commonly, antiques made from endangered fauna or flora) you will likely have to apply for a CITES permit before arranging the shipping of the goods.


Please discuss with your seller or freight forwarder if the country where you have obtained the goods requires a CITES permit before it can be exported. If so, please enlist their help in obtaining one. The process can take several weeks so be patient. Once approved, you will need a hard copy original of the original to clear customs in Canada so you will need to have the shipper mail this to you.


We recommend contacting Environment Canada’s CITES department in Gatineau at this number (855-869-8670) to first establish whether your antique will be permitted importation into Canada. If yes, you can continue to their website to find the correct application forms to complete. The permit application required will vary depending on whether you are importing: a live animal, hunting trophy or an article made from a CITES protected species. Complete the application and submit to the e-mail address specified on the permit application. Please allow several weeks for the CITES to be approved. Once approved, Environment Canada will mail you the permit with further instructions. Do not lose this! You will need it to clear your item through customs on arrival.

What requires CITES?

The list is quite long but luckily Environment Canada provides a search tool on their website to assist. If you remain uncertain, please contact a CITES administrator at Environment Canada.

Must I file for the application myself?

No, Border Bee can also assist with your permit application as well as the customs clearance of your goods for a modest fee.

More questions? Please contact us

Self-Clearing: directions to major Customs offices

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Below is a list of Canada’s major inland Customs offices for the purpose of self-clearing your goods. If you are importing personal effects you will need to present yourself to one of these offices once your shipment arrives in Canada. The list contains only inland ports as we do not recommend self-clearing at the border. If the office you are looking for is not in the table below you can search the CBSA’s online directory:

Further information on self-clearing can be obtained by contacting Customs directly: 800-461-9999


Montreal (Ocean Imports)

Hours: 7:45-4:30 pm M-F

400 Place Youville

Montreal QC  H2Y 2C2



Hours: 8-4 pm M-F

65 Canterbury Street

Saint John NB  E2L 2C7


Montreal (Highway-Air Imports)

Hours: 7:45-5 pm M-F

2200 Reverchon Avenue

Room 296

Dorval QC  H9P 2S7


Toronto (Ocean)

Hours: 8:30-4:30 pm M-F

1 Front Street West

C.P. Box 10, Station A,

Toronto ON  M5J 2X5


Toronto (Highway-Air Imports)

Hours: 24/7

2720 Britannia Road East,

P.O. Box 40, AMF,

Toronto ON  L4W 2P7



Hours: 8-4 pm M-F

1821 Wellington Avenue

Unit 130

Winnipeg MB  R3H 0G4



Hours: 8-4 pm M-F

175 Aero Way North East

Unit 162

Calgary AB  T2E 6K2



Hours: 8-4 pm M-F

100-1727 35th Avenue East

Edmonton International Airport AB  T9E 0V6



Hours: 8 – 4 pm M-F

1611 Main street

412-4th Floor

Vancouver BC  V6A 2W5

Customs Clearing Gifts and Personal Effects

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Border Bee receives many calls from distressed Canadians looking for an explanation as to why their personal property is being held by Customs. Here are some answers to the most common questions.

Customs 395 in Old Montreal

Customs in Old Montreal

Why are my personal effects being held by Customs?

The unfortunate reality is that many people lie to Customs. All too frequently, goods that were purchased are labelled as ‘gifts’ or ‘personal effects’ to avoid duties and taxes. This is a sore point with Customs. The real cost of this dishonesty may not be the government’s lost revenue but the burden placed on honest Canadians who must prove that their property is not subject to tax or restriction. There is also the possibility that within your personal effects are items restricted in Canada that Customs has a responsibility to prevent from entering the country.

Do I have to go to Customs to clear my effects?

Yes. Alternatively, you may provide a relative with ‘written authority’ to represent you to Customs in order to obtain clearance for your articles. This relative will show the authority when they arrive at the Customs office. It may also be wise to provide them with a copy of your passport or driver’s license.*

What qualifies as ‘personal effects’?

Did you buy the goods? Do you have a receipt? If the answer to these questions is ‘no,’ then you are likely importing personal effects. Personal effects require you to self-clear and report directly to the CBSA, where you will complete this form and answer any additional questions Customs might have about what the personal effects contain.

Personal effects typically take the form of:

  • items bequeathed by a foreign relative
  • personal property used during a period abroad for more than a year
  • property imported by settlers or seasonal residents

Do I have to self-clear my gift?

If it is in fact a gift–meaning that you did not purchase the item and no one purchased it for you–then yes, you must self-clear the item and report directly to the CBSA. The reason for this precaution is that many gifts may have been sent by the shipper in return for a consideration that Customs would consider taxable. The threshold for importing gifts tax-free is $60.

For information on how to self-clear your gifts or personal effects, see here. The process for self-clearing personal effects and purchases are the same and require you to report to the Customs office where your goods are being held.

*If you live very far from the Customs office and do not have a relative who can represent you at the port, you can try your luck by calling the CBSA’s BIS line: 800-461-9999 (inside Canada).

Good Luck!


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

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