Managing Customs in a Small or Medium Size Organization

Most small and medium sized organizations do not import often enough to hire a full-time customs manager. The job tends to be a part-time responsibility of someone in accounting or logistics or, in many owner-managed businesses, the President. The biggest challenge for this part-timer is having sufficient knowledge of trade and customs matters to provide…More

GST Recovery for Non-Resident Importers

Most commercial goods that enter Canada are subject to the federal goods and services tax (GST), the Canadian VAT. The current rate is 5% of the duty paid value. The major exceptions are for certain basic groceries, prescription drugs and biologicals, medical and assistive devices and products of agriculture and fishing. The full list of…More

Russia Sanctions at NATO’s Weakest Point

Prior to Covid, the Baltic Sea was a popular cruise destination for travelers from North America and Western Europe.  Saint Petersburg, with its Hermitage Museum and window into the mysteries of Russia, was the highlight for many. Few people who live outside that region are aware that Saint Petersburg is not Russia’s only port on…More

The Hidden Implications of FTA Origin Audits

Importers who claim preferential tariff treatment under a free trade agreement (“FTA”) are generally familiar with the certificate of origin provided by the exporter or producer of the goods. In most FTAs, importers are required to have this certificate in their possession at the time the preferential treatment is claimed. Many importers assume that the…More

Restrictions on trade with Russia and Belarus

Effective March 2, 2002, goods originating in Russia and Belarus are denied Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment on importation to Canada, leaving them subject to the 35% General Tariff rate. The only other country with this infamous distinction is North Korea. It is important to note that the 35% tariff applies to goods that “originate”…More

The basics of origin in international trade

The concept of origin for goods in international trade can be confusing, for several reasons. First, a good generally originates in the country where it is manufactured, which may not be the country from which it is exported. Second, not all forms of manufacturing confer origin. Third, there are two types – non preferential origin…More

The basics of customs valuation

The term “customs valuation” has a mysterious ring to it, as if it were based on some esoteric, perhaps dark principles. In fact, it is usually fairly straightforward. The valuation of 90% of imports is based on “transaction value”, the price payable on the commercial invoice issued by the exporter. The trick is to recognize…More

The opportunities of CARM

If you import goods into Canada, you will have heard of the CARM initiative of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Your broker will be peppering you with emails to encourage you to register at the online portal, post a security bond and begin paying your duties and taxes directly. Unless you wish to account…More


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Preparing your customs documents using online resources

Importing goods can be intimidating. The customs rules are complex and inflexible, and the forms full of details and coding that appear undecipherable. That is why we have customs brokers. Many importers to assume that, once they hire a broker, they do not need to invest time and energy in understanding customs and trade concepts.…More

The Customs Challenges of Importing by Pipeline: A Proposed Solution

The transportation of natural gas, crude oil and other liquids by pipeline has unique attributes that make customs reporting and accounting difficult, and easy to miss altogether. A pipeline is buried in the ground, out of sight and mind. The hydrocarbons continue moving to their destination as if the border does not exist.  Crude oil…More

The Essentials of the USMCA

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) replaced NAFTA effective July 1, 2020. Except for certain agricultural products, it provides duty free treatment for all goods traded between the three countries which “originate” among them. What does that term – originate – mean? We’ll start by describing two types of exports that do not originate under the…More