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eBay: ship US to Canada, devalue to avoid Customs?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassbounce, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. bassbounce


    Apr 22, 2009
    Hi, I want to get a bass from eBay but the Customs fees from US to here will kill me. The only way to avoid is value the bass at US40, mark as 'gift.'

    Has anyone done this and been oK? How else can I avoid Customs fees?
  2. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    don't do it! if there is any dispute with the sale, you'll only be able to recover 40 bucks!
  3. That, plus several other issues for the seller. Though it is seldom checked, what you're asking the seller to do is break the law by falsifying a government document (the customs form). Several years ago a seller on one of the eBay forums got nailed with fines for several times the selling price of an item (I can't remember now what it was that he sold).
  4. Can't really condone breaking the law. There are also other problems that can happen if something goes wrong etc.

    I doubt the customs will "kill you", if looking at buying anything abroad, always calculate the final price by incorporating customs and shipping.
  5. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    Also as an FYI, FedEx allows the buyer the option to not pay customs fees and then the seller/shipper gets hit with them two months later.
  6. Bassmingo


    Nov 6, 2008
    get seller to send to friend of yours with a u.s. address, friend then sends it onto you marked as a gift?
  7. khobrak


    Nov 13, 2008
    Québec city
    It works but like RCCollins said theres a risk involved.

    If you declare it as a gift you wont pay any customs but theres a maximum amount that can be "given". I dont know the exact amount but its around 250-300$.

    If you declare it for less than its actual value it also works but your insurance will be what its declared for. Also even though most customs officers are not bassist and wont know the real value of an instrument its best to declare a realistic price. Most people know that an instrument is worth more than 40$,
  8. bassbounce


    Apr 22, 2009
  9. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    As I told a potential buyer for one of my ebay items this morning- why would I lie to customs for some complete stranger?

    Hopefully, the seller is smarted than that......
  10. khobrak


    Nov 13, 2008
    Québec city
    Oh yeah, if you wanna save some fees use USPS to ship it. They only charge 5$ for brokerage fees while UPS/Fedex etc charge 40-50+$ It does take a bit longer to clear and get to you though.
  11. The best thing to do is to use US Postal Service/Canada Post rather than FedEx or UPS. It seems like Canada Customs is less likely to charge you the taxes on an item coming across via Canada Post, whereas FedEx and UPS will ALWAYS get the taxes charged. Then you will get a brokerage and bond fee that adds to the cost.

    I've had $30 items come across the border with UPS and I've got hit with nasty fees. I've also had $500 items that come across with Canada Post and I get charged nothing... weird.

    US Postal Service offers fairly quick shipping, and a bunch of tracking and insurance options. For cross-border shipping, there really isn't a reason to use UPS or FedEx unless you are in a big rush.
  12. derekd


    Feb 16, 2009
    When Canadians get frustrated with Americans about why they say CONUS only in their auction, it is because of this sort of thing. I too have been asked to break the law. Thanks but no thanks. I would rather sell down here exclusively if it is going to be an issue.

    Last item I sold to a Canuck was a nice Eastman archtop guitar. I made sure in my ad that I mentioned honesty with the customs process. Knowing that upfront, everything went smoothly.
  13. mat666


    Apr 3, 2007
    get it sent USPS, dont ask to declare as gift
  14. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    No. Customs are not stupid. They know the value of goods these days and they'll catch you at it. It's not worth the hassle for the little extra money in taxes it'll cost you.

    By the way in all my eBay auctions that go overseas and to Canada, I specifically mention that I will not devalue the bass or mark it as a gift for customs. Not only will it be a hassle for the buyer, but I can get stuck for the extra costs as well. It's not worth the grief to me.
  15. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    The furthest I'll go is to mark the item "non-operational, needs repair" (which is true, as it isn't plugged in and it's bound to have a scratch or two *somewhere*).

    Past that, it isn't worth the potential headaches, as there's no return on the additional risk I'm taking.
  16. bassbounce


    Apr 22, 2009
    ok, got the point, declare full value=no headaches!

    why not mark as 'gift'...does it make a difference since the value is what matters (ie. some eBayers state that they'll mark some merch as 'gift')?
  17. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    Because that can get you into big legal trouble with the customs folks.
  18. Not weird. The USPS and Canada Post have reciprocal agreements to handle each other's volume. UPS and USPS has no such agreements with anyone and as such have to go through third party services (brokers) who charge a fee and specify taxes to be paid.

    I work for UPS but all my international shipping is done through the postal service.

    Is it a gift? Did money exchange hands?

    Okay then.
  19. austinso


    Jan 10, 2008
    East Bay, CA
    You can't avoid customs...even it is marked as a "gift" they will charge you for it, and it give them more reason to make it harder for you to get your bass.

    If the bass was made in the US, you don't have to worry about anything but GST, so I'd say that it is better to have near full value declared, so you don't run into any problems in the future. In the very least they will go by the insured amount (and I would seriously question why anyone would not get their stuff insured).

    But yeah, the brokerage fees can be outrageous. It makes no sense to pay brokerage fees that are charged when using Fedex or UPS, particularly given that the paperwork is really easy through USPS or Canadapost these days, and particularly when no duties are owed.

    The only advantage of UPS or Fedex is a better level of care, I think, as well as less strict package sizes. As long as the seller does their best to safely and securely pack things, there shouldn't be a problem (e.g. padding the bass inside the case so that it cannot move). And I guess from the seller's POV, they get the item picked up at their door to ship out.
  20. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    How can it be that so many good people think stealing from our government is OK? :crying:

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