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Shipping a bass from the US to Canada

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by lefty007, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I searched for this subject but could not find a relevant thread.

    I need to ship a used bass from the US to Canada. I have a Fedex account so shipping charges are about the same as the USPS, so I rather ship via Fedex.

    I've been doing research for hours to understand what the import duties are, but can't get a solid figure.

    As I understand, under the NAFTA agreement, some items are duty-free, and you "only" pay sales tax (GST tax, 7%), an HST tax (5%) customs' handling $5.00 fee, and brokerage fees (Fedex charges between $20 and $30, I think). I know that if you ship via USPS, you don't pay brokerage fees, only the $5.00 customs fee, but I'd still rather ship via Fedex.

    But guitars and basses are not duty-free. I found they have a 6% import duty, on top of all those fees above.

    But the Canadian recipient tells me that he has gotten charged 20% import duty on top of all the others fees, instead of the 6% that I'm finding.

    Does anybody have any experience with this?

    I'm sending a used bass to Vancouver. I also know that duties change by province, so maybe that's why he's getting charged 20%?

  2. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Purchaser will pay GST, now 5% and PST as well as brokerage fees. Not sure what BC PST % is. Fedex acting as broker should have a breakdown on charges for low value shipments like a bass assuming the purchaser wants FedEx to act as broker. I used to have an independent broker when I was importing gear for business.

    I find the whole border crossing thing to be very inconsistent in amounts charged but I'm always charged. I can say I've always paid several hundred in 'costs' bringing in my Roscoes and the Rob Allen I used to have. Strangely enough going the other way is far more inconsistemt with some paying nothing when I ship to US.

    While I don't like paying the fees its a cost of doing business but I don't know where the term 'free trade' came from. There's no way around it for Canadian purchasers.
  3. BC's PST is 7% I believe.
  4. Ship it USPS. I know that FedEx charges $10 brokerage per $100 of worth declared. UPS charges around the same. It is a rip off, I would rather wait the extra week for my bass to get here than pay the brokerage fees.

  5. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Just checked the USPS size limits and it is 46 inches. The box is 51 in. and no way to make it shorter.

    Thanks for the info so far, everybody.
  6. I have shipped a couple of basses and various electronic things into Canada from the US. Here's what I have figured out.

    Aside from the actual shipping cost, this is what the recipient will pay: brokerage fee, duty (if applicable), goods and services tax (GST) and provincial sales tax (PST - if applicable).

    If the value is under $1600, then the item qualifies as a low value shipment, and there is a expedited process for importing:

    Canada Post (which will handle the package at the border when shipped by USPS) charges $5 for brokerage. That is all. I prefer to ship via USPS if at all possible because of this. But they have a more stringent size and weight limit.

    For anything under $1600 I have had shipped in via FedEx, they have only ever charged me about $8 or $9 for brokerage. But their schedule of charges indicates they should charge more, so I don't really know if you can count on it.

    UPS has always charged a very high brokerage fee, even for something of really low value. I avoid them now.

    If the item is valued over $1600, then a more complicated process applies, and any carrier (FedEx, UPS, etc.) has to submit documentation to the Canadian government on the recipient's behalf before the item can be released from their US facility. This can take a fair bit of time (a week, maybe more), and the brokerage fee is fairly high. I did this once with FedEx, and I think the brokerage was about $100, but they were very helpful and did a lot of complicated federal paperwork that I would have not known how to do without a lot of research. Apparently if you mess up the paperwork, your shipment could be in import purgatory for a loooong time. So I didn't think that was too unreasonable a fee, considering.

    From what I can tell, 6% duty applies to guitars/basses. That's exactly what I have been charged. That's federal, so it does not depend on the province.

    There is also 5% GST (also federal), and provincial sales tax, which varies from one province to another. BC has 7% PST. Some provinces have a harmonized sales tax (HST) which is a combination of both GST and PST.

    BC has 7% PST, so the buyer would pay 5% GST plus 7% PST for a total of 12% sales tax. Add that to 6% duty, and that's 18%. Plus brokerage and shipping.

    I hope that helps. YMMV. :)
  7. As per cavemusic's response his findings are generally the same as mine. FedEX has never charged me more than $10 for brokerage fees and that was on Rickenbacker basses 2 different times. Canada Post has charged me $8 fees for opening up a box that contained something as small as tuning pegs. That has happened 3 or 4 times.

    If the bass is Made in the USA there is no duty. That is one of the benefits of NAFTA.

    PST and GST will apply to the purchase price and my experience has been that they do not get applied to the shipping cost.

    I am not sure what your deal with the buyer is but I think most sellers clearly state that all taxes and duties are the buyer's responsibilty.
  8. Rather than starting a new thread:

    I just had two pedals mailed from the U.S. to Toronto. The one, purchased from a TB'er, arrived in my mailbox like normal mail. The other one, purchased from Wilson Effects, I had to pick up at the post office and pay $30 in duty fees. The duty only applies to the one purchased from the business, and not to the one purchased privately? What's up with that? I mean, if there's a way to avoid paying duty fees in the future, I'd certainly like to.

    Anyone here who can explain this?
  9. It might all depend on how the package was marked. It it is marked "Gift" - value $20 - then Canada Customs usually won't bother with it. If is marked pedal or whatever with the true value then you are going to get nailed. The $30 should be the PST, GST and $5 to $8 for Customs/brokerage fees.
  10. Herrlster


    Oct 27, 2004
    Ontario, Canada
    I live in a border town. Say I were to buy two Gallien Krueger NEO bass cabs totalling US $950 and have it shipped to an address in the US (the site I want to order from offers free shipping in US but not in Canada) and I drive across and pick it up. What should I expect to pay once I declare it at the border? I live in Ontario. Would it still be the 5% GST, 7% PST and the 6% duty?
  11. My assumption would be that you are importing goods into Canada. You would have to pay the taxes but if the cabs are Made in the USA then there should be no duty. That's where NAFTA kicks in. Customs might charge a processing fee but I am not sure as I have not brought gear across the border the way you are describing. Also the taxes get applied to the value of the goods in Canadian dollars. So be aware of that.
  12. Loel

    Loel Blazin' Acadian

    Oct 31, 2004
    +1 to cavemusic's post

    I'm my experience USPS/post or no deal
    just recieved LMII via post from TB'er
    insured for 500 US delivered to my door
    no extra charges:D UPS/Fedx would have
    been 100+,basses is another story (size):eek:
  13. Randall


    Aug 6, 2009
    Yes UPS brokerage fees are a huge ripoff. I avoid UPS shipping for this very reason. USPS is the cheapest and FedEX is reasonable to me. IMO.;)
  14. Sounds like it's unanimous then! ;)

    Recently I bought a $400 (US) mike from a guy on another forum. I forgot to check which company he was shipping with. UPS comes to the door with a $82 COD bill. Ouch. :bawl:

    Prior to that, I bought a $300 (US) rack unit, shipped by USPS-Canada Post. How much did they charge? Exactly $0. :bassist:
  15. James_E


    Jan 26, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    I have done this, on goods manufacture in USA. Customs charges are done this way:

    Take total cost of the item, including any state sales tax (i.e. NY state tax) convert that to CDN dollars, and then charge 13% HST on that converted amount.

    So, for the 950 US, they will do the following.

    Assuming NY state sales tax was 5%, total cost for that 950 is 950 * 1.05 = 997.5 US.

    997.5 US = 1012.44 CDN (today)

    1012.44 * 0.13 = 131.61 CDN. < ---- This is what you'll pay at the border.

    I have had cases where they don't charge fees on the NY tax, but they usually do.
  16. bass_snake

    bass_snake Banned

    Aug 13, 2008
    Stouffville, Ontario
    Great thread! Very helpful!

  17. Jonyak


    Oct 2, 2007
    Ottawa, Ont
    US made guitars and basses are not subject to any duties, as far as I know.
  18. Randall


    Aug 6, 2009
    And to make a simple point: as the seller/shipper you do not have to know the duties/gst/taxes etc etc. The buyer will pay all these charges when they pick up the bass and Canada customs will do the math/tax bill for you. Easy.

    All you fill out is a simple form declaring the value/type of merch. etc.
  19. Suddenly a bass in the classifieds that sounds like a great deal at $240 is not so great after all if there is a risk of having duty, taxes, brokerage fees and the like to make it on par with buying new from the store (if not more!). Really helpful thread, thanks everyone for the information.

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