Canadians-getting packages from the US-any suggestions?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Chris Bardon, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    Thought of this while replying to the other ebay thread-are there any solutions to the customs problem for getting packages in to Canada? I've been burned a few times with fees on packages. A couple of times I've gotten the $10 fee ($5 GST and $5 "opening your package surcharge"), and the worst one yet was $50. When I bought the parts for my arcade stick from Happ, I got charged $15 GST (which I actually didn't mind THAT much) but a $35 brokerage fee from UPS.

    Am I the only one that thinks the rules for importing packages are a little backwards? I did some research, and found out the following:

    -Gifts under $60 are tax free
    -GST is charged based on the declared value

    Has anyone found that there is any consistency with packages being charged? I have no idea how random the inspections are, but I really don't like that there's no category for person to person transactions on the customs forms. Any other suggestions on how not to get screwed by customs charges? I've started asking anyone I buy from on Ebay to mark packages as a gift, and most co-operate. Some sellers refuse to for some reason, and others just ignore what I ask and mark 2 Xbox games as $100 in merchandise (even though the auction was won for $40).
     
  2. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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  3. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The trick to UPS is to ship to a company address and clear customs yourself. For small items their brokerage is very expensive, especially since they not only charge brokerage, but a COD fee and a handling/dispersement fee - if you can't go the company route, call in and prepay the brokerage and at least save $10+. Also, if you ship to a company, you should not owe any provincial sales tax.

    I always allow margin for Canada Post's $5 handling fee, and over here we are nailed with both GST and 7.5% PST. This is completely hit and miss, regardless of the value of the package, and despite what the rules may say, Customs can (and does) determine their own value on your goods if they think they are undervalued on the declaration form. NEVER have someone declare a $0 value. I find a declaration under $15US usually gets through, but not always.
     
  4. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Ask the sender to ship by regular mail instead. At the very worst you get charged GST and the $10 Canada Post handling fee. You won't get burned by the +$30 handling charges of most courier services.
     
  5. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Agreed that the mail is way to go. Any other service has a handling charge as they are in business to make money.

    It pays to keep all of your receipts from previous purchases too. If there is any inconsistancy, having it on paper is worth its weight in gold. Well, almost.

    Glenn
     
  6. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    I've never liked it when sellers bump up the price on the customs form. Pisses me off when the taxes are based off the price of the sender.

    Other than gift, I don't see what else you can do to avoid it.

    On a related note, how many postman actually try to deliver your packages to your door? On Monday, I was out checking the mail and then mailman appeared dropping the mail with a notice slip. Last year, I had a good mailman that would at least ring the door bell with the package in hand. But ever since his replacement, I've been getting notices. Also, my packages seem to be held up in customs for an extra week. Why can't Canada Post use PBB or some other form of customs?
     
  7. Dean Cooper

    Dean Cooper Supporting Actor

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    I have found that if there is a company name on the return address instead of a personal name the package will get opened and you'll get that nice handling fee 100% of the time. I have had a lot of luck requesting the seller to put a personal name on the return address (it doesn't even have to be real) instead of a company name and ask them NOT to put an invoice in the box and mark it as gift on the customs sticker. Those three things should get your package to you with no extra fees almost all the time.

    Dean
     
  8. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    You should only have a $5 handling fee through Canada Post, plus applicable taxes.
     
  9. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    $5.00 plus 15% Ontario tax on a $100 product is still $20 extra I have to pay on top of crazy shipping fees eSellers put on their auctions.
     
  10. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    I odn't mind paying the $5 fee and GST since I figure I'd pay the tax if I purchased locally but UPS realyl screws us big time. I've had a few US businesses give me a free upgrade to UPS even though I selected USPS as my shipping choice...thanks there's a reason I didn't select Universal Parcel Screwups[​IMG]
     
  11. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

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    I've been wrestling with this for years. I review DVDs for a website and receive product on a regular basis from California. Probably one of the biggest things to prevent customs charges is to keep the packages as SMALL as possible. I tell the sender not to send any more than two DVDs in an envelope. Big packages seem like red flags to customs.

    I have recently tried having the sender mark a value of $0 on the green sticker and say "2 DVDs - SCREENERS ONLY". It hasn't improved the situation really. Right now, I'd say about 20% of my packages have customs charges, whereas when the sender simply stated '$15 value, 2 DVDs, Gift' I had about 10% of the packages getting extra charges applied. I'm toying with the idea of having them shipped with a short letter explaining that they are screeners from various movie studios that are for preview and have no value. I'm doubting that it will help though.

    I'll probably just go back to have the $15 value declared while keeping the packages small. Oh yes, that was an interesting comment made about how company names often catch the attention of the customs checkers. Perhaps I'll have the sender just put a regular name and return address.

    Thanks for suggestions! [​IMG]
     
  12. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    The duty/tax/whatever - changes because of the classification of the merchandise. What you need to get is the proper classification number, and then go from there.

    If the papers have the wrong number on it, then you really do deserve to get taken.

    Glenn
     

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