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Attention Canadian Bassists

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Tom Rutledge, May 4, 2006.

  1. Tom Rutledge

    Tom Rutledge

    Sep 27, 2005
    Hi Folks,

    Just wondering if anybody has had experience with purchasing basses in the States and bringing them across the border. I'm lusting after one of those beautiful New American Standards. I'd like to have some kind of idea as to the cost of Duty and Taxes that will undoubtedly be charged. If anyone could shed some light it would be appreciated.
    In hindsight, I wish I never read all of the glowing reviews of these bases, gonna make me a poor man. Talkbass is a wonderful resource.

  2. GregHolmes


    Mar 3, 2006
    Niagara, Ontario
    Dealer of: BassLab, Eminence, Acoustic Image, MIDIjet
    You'll pay:
    • shipping
    • customs broker fee
    • duty, e.g. if made outside of NAFTA
    • federal sales tax (GST)
    • provincial sales tax if going to an end-user, no PST if going to a company (assuming you have tax #)
    Companies can claim the GST back (the assumption is that they'll submit GST on the final sale to an end user). Duty for e-bass is generally 6% into Canada. Duty and sales taxes are based on the declared value of the item, converted at an exchange rate chosen at the time of processing (unless it's already marked in CA$). For NAFTA consideration, the cost of building the item has to be predominantly borne inside NAFTA countries. So, simple assembly might not be considered enough work/cost to justify NAFTA treatment. But if the item is (justifiably) marked "Made in USA" or "Made in Mexico", then it would fall under NAFTA. There are preferential trade agreements with other countries, too. All documentation should be very clear and complete (including your tax numbers, if any), but it's sometimes hard to get the sender/seller to do that properly for you.
  3. Now THAT'S a detailed answer! Well done! :)

    I believe you can save a little money on the brokerage fee if you pick up the item AT the UPS/FedEx facility, or have it shipped via USPS and avoid brokerage altogether, but will guarantee yourself a longer wait at customs.

    Also, a phone number can help ease any border issues if you don't have a tax number.
  4. Tom Rutledge

    Tom Rutledge

    Sep 27, 2005
    Thanks for the info guys. If I decide to purchase it I'll probably pick it up myself. That way I'll just have to deal with the two taxes and possibly duty (and exchange). At least the CAN dollar is still rising! Either way it'll be a costly affair crossing the border....
  5. GregHolmes


    Mar 3, 2006
    Niagara, Ontario
    Dealer of: BassLab, Eminence, Acoustic Image, MIDIjet
    Oops - phone number for sure!

    I've paid duty on US goods coming from a US manufacturer because the papers didn't say "US$" and "Made in USA"... It took months to straighten it out.

    Shipping by postal mail often still gets hit with broker fees (and all the other things), since the post office uses a private broker firm. Maybe you've been lucky... :)
  6. I hope I never have to deal with customs again. Don't try shipping any T-shirts anymore.................that's all I have to say about that.:rollno:
    I feel your pain....

    The handling/broker fees for Postal are only around $5, but you're guaranteed a wait. UPS is around $30, but it's fast, and you can usually only pay around $5-10 if you pick it up at the UPS outlet, but you have to notify them in advance.

    It'd probably be cheaper to have it shipped, you may avoid duty at the very least, but if you pick it up, at least there's no waiting. :)
  7. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    It is fairly expensive to have a bass shipped...I have found it is better to drive a few hundred miles. YMMV.
  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Forget about UPS -- not so much FedEx, but neither one of them -- saving you anything at all on so-called "brokerage fees". They actually have a nice little scam going on that one, I believe. Their "brokerage fees" far surpass what one would pay working through a real customs broker, and the fee is way out of line considering the actual work they do to earn it.

    Get a smaller trucking company to move the bass and pick it up at their warehouse. The best way to go by far. If your vendor on the other end "absolutely, positively" has to deal with UPS or FedEx, and won't use someone sensible, then find another vendor.

    Also, I've never paid a lick of PST here in Manitoba. The transaction takes place out of province -- no PST.

    Harpo is going to reduce the GST by 1% real soon. Wait until then and buy yourself a nice bottle of whiskey with the savings.
  9. speedster


    Aug 19, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    I've bought a few things State side and had them sent to me....(ie) Ergo EUB which I paid $700 US for and by the time I got it home to my door it cost me $1300 with GST/PST and brokerage fee's which far surpassed the taxes...

    Bought a used GK MB 200 from California for $265 which included the shipping fee's. By the time it was delivered to the door it cost me $465 with tax's and brokerage again brokerage fee's far surpassed the tax's...;

    The Deals don't really turn out as bargains once the brokerage fees are tacked on... What scam a guy or gal slaps a label on the item writes down in a log a tracking number and whacks you with a percentage of the value of the item. Higher the value the higher the brokerage.

    A buddy of mine sent his mandolin down to Nashville for some work on it and then picked it up down there while we were attending IBMA last fall.

    Got home and received a bill in the mail for $ 459 for brokerage fee's (one way !!!) OUCH

    So drive down and buy your bass and drive back, I wouldn't bother claiming it at the border, once back across and you want to reenter the USA just stop and get the green card at the customs office prior to heading across.

    I know lots of guys who do this buying guitars etc as it saves huge $$$$$$ Even if they pull you in to pay the tax's etc you end up way cheaper than having it shipped...
  10. GregHolmes


    Mar 3, 2006
    Niagara, Ontario
    Dealer of: BassLab, Eminence, Acoustic Image, MIDIjet
    Apparently, instruments played with a bow (HS 9202.10.00) are free of duty coming into Canada, perhaps regardless of country of origin. This is in contrast to electric basses, which are 6%, unless covered under NAFTA or similar. But please check with a broker for the official interpretations.
  11. b1644


    Aug 24, 2005
    Northern Ontario
    I live in a border town and had my bass shipped from the Kolstein shop to an address in Michigan (a place called Weir Package & Freight that receives packages for Canadians and holds them for pickup).

    It saved me a small fortune in customs brokerage fees and the associated processing delays. I think I just paid GST at the time because the Canadian border service wasn't collecting PST yet (they sure do now, OUCH! :crying:).

    Barrie Kolstein was very patient in helping me get the shipping worked out; I think it went by air to Milwaukee and then to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan by truck. I believe the crate was too big for the usual carriers like UPS and Fedex so they were not an option.

    Anyway, it worked out for me but it was a pain to get the shipping sorted out; for a while I wasn't sure it was going to be possible. I think next time I'll just make a vacation out of it (what could be more fun than buying a new bass anyway :hyper: ) and drive and pick it up myself.

    - Martin
  12. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I bought a Dingwall from an American dealer, but since it was made in Canada (the paperwork was there to prove it), I only paid the shipping charges.

    Yeah, brokerage fees are a scam. I've been burned a couple of times on that by both FedEx and UPS.
  13. Bellbass

    Bellbass Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    I gotta a bass (made in China) from the US shipped in an airport in New Hampshire, a 4 1/2 hours drive from Montreal. I had to pay 22.5% of custom fees when getting back in Canada: 7% GST, 8% Quebec sales tax and 7% for importing an instrument not made in the US. So I have to disagree with GregHolmes. They do charge an extra 7% if the bass is not US made.

    A good thing that I had an agreement with the seller as to the value of the bass for customs purposes. But the customs agents did their job really well and did not believe I could have such a nice bass in a brand new mooradian case for 500 bucks....they called the seller and he convince them that I got a really ****ty bass out of the deal. They let me go after paying 125$ of custom fees, telling me to watch for scams when I buy something on the Net.

    By the way, the bass sounds so good that my teacher, playing for the Montreal metropolitan orchestra, is thinking of buying one as her spair!
  14. Thunder Lizard

    Thunder Lizard

    Dec 7, 2005
    Lethbridge, AB
    Canadian Distributor, Basson Sound Equipment
    Or, you can get an American citizen to bring the bass across the border.
    "Is all this yours, sir?"
    "Yes, it is"
    "Carry on"
  15. mpoppitt


    Mar 28, 2005
    Austin Texas
    I don't understand why you would have to declare ANYTHING when trying to take it over the border in person. Couldn't you just say "it's mine, I've had it for a while"? How are they to know how long you have had it?

    What happens when a Canadian band goes on tour in the US? Do they have to pay duty on the instruments they allready bought when they return?

    What am I missing here?
  16. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    If I am not mistaken, you would have had to declare it when you went into the States so that when you return you have proof that you brought it in and didn't buy it there.

    I'm not sure what touring musicians do. They probably have to declare everything or get some sort-of work visa or something.
  17. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    I was considering taking a US gig at one point and was in the middle of preparing a list of everything I would take down to the last cable. All was listed as "Not for resale" I had all the bills and receipts for the main pieces. I ended up not taking the gig. Some friends of mine went to a show case in Nashville and were very concerned about crossing the border. They labelled all their CD with "Promotional Copy - Not for Resale" since they could not legally work in the States but they did play a number of shows all the same. It's one of those things that I'm sure many people take risks and fopr others its not worth it. For me it's not worth it to put my import/export lic at risk.
  18. speedster


    Aug 19, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    Prior to entering the USA a quick stop at the Customs office on this side of the border (Canada) will prevent any problems when returning.

    You take your instrument into the desk, a customs officer will take the serial number of the instrument and write it down on a Green Card which you then place in the instrument case or your wallet etc. They give you one for each instrument.

    No cost associated with this service, upon return when they ask if you have anything to declare you can say no with piece of mind that you can produce the green card to prove ownership prior to entering the USA.

    The beauty is you don't need the original receipts etc. which is good for used or old instruments. A bonus is if you buy an instrument in the USA and happen to get it across the border unclaimed as many folks do then you can get the green card for all future crossings.........

    One time sweating, just don't put the purchase on a visa or mastercharge that can be traced, pay cash.......

    If playing Stateside it is best to have the promoter prepare all the required documentation for you to play as there is a significant cost involved.
  19. GregHolmes


    Mar 3, 2006
    Niagara, Ontario
    Dealer of: BassLab, Eminence, Acoustic Image, MIDIjet
    Bellbass, I'm sure you meant "So I have to agree with GregHolmes", since I wrote that there will usually be duty for items made outside of NAFTA (which China is). But there may be other preferential agreements in effect that are beneficial to you. Also, some commodities (e.g. softwood, steel, wheat) have special tarifs in place to protect local markets. It's a jungle...

    The interesting thing about your example is that duty would have been paid on the China-made bass when it was imported into the US. Since it then left the US, someone (e.g. the original importer) can apply for that duty to be refunded (i.e. if the item was in the US for less than a year). IME.

    (Picky point: The 7% GST and 8% QST are sales taxes, not customs fees. The "extra 7%" would be the actual duty for the China-made item.)
  20. Bellbass

    Bellbass Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    Yeah GregHolmes! You're right all the way! Thanks for correcting my miscues!

    And indeed, for someone who does not have any experience in crossing borders with valuable items, it is a jungle! But well worth it in my case!

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