Daily Archives: August 2, 2012

We’re not mysterious. We’re Canadians!

I got a chuckle out of this recent article over on Inbound Logistics on Ten Tips for Getting Shipments Across the Canadian Border which said that businesses underestimate the complexity of the Canadian customs process because it can be very difficult before addressing the mysteries of the clearance process. Mysteries? Are they serious?

Let’s look at the arguments.

The Canada Border Services Agency continually revises compliance requirements
And the US doesn’t? And Europe doesn’t?

Hidden Charges
According to the article, unexpected and additional delivery charges are a significant issue for Canadian consumers. This has nothing to do with getting shipments across the Canadian Border, but everything to do with the importer doing its research beforehand.

Trade Agreements Offer Economic Incentives
Isn’t this a good thing? Yes, it takes some effort to navigate NAFTA, but it’s not that hard — and many customs brokers have it all mapped out.

Trusted Shipper Programs Speed Clearance Process
And isn’t this a good thing too? And easily understood! I’m confused? What’s difficult and mysterious?

Consolidation is key for smaller shipments
Yes, consolidated shipments clear the border as a single unit and can speed importation, but it’s not necessary. It depends on what you are importing and what you are importing it for. Especially since, for some importers, a full truck can be a “small shipment”.

Canada has gone (almost) paperless
And the fact that border clearance is largely conducted through web-based portals and online transactions is a great thing. It really speeds up, and clarifies, the process.
(But yes, you have to use that new-fangled computer thingie. But it is 2012, after all!)

Your government may pay you for shipping to Canada
The Duty Drawback program in the U.S. reimburses businesses for import fees paid on materials used in the manufacture of goods than subsequently exported. Nothing mysterious or difficult about this either — just a bit of paperwork that is, in effect, another good thing.

All provinces are not the same
Ok, so this adds a bit of spice to the process, but we’re talking about a country with only 10 provinces, not 50 states. And the only real issue is taxation. Some provinces use a harmonized sales tax that combines the federal goods and services tax with the provincial sales tax, while others keep them separate. Either way, it’s one tax, and one simple lookup table. The multiplication tables you learned in grade school are more complex.

Be sure you can reach your customers
Uhm, isn’t this a requirement wherever you import? It has nothing to do with Canada. Sure, we are the second largest country by area, but like the article says, 80% of our population lives within 100 miles of the US border, and everyone else knows that if you want variety, you make your weekly / monthly / annual pilgrimage to the closest city. (The 80/20 rule works great!)

Partner with an experienced logistics provider
Huh? And what does this have to do with Canadian import complexity? Nada, zip, zero.

So, final score:

Relevant Issues 3 (Compliance Requirements, Taxes, e-Filings)
Universal Issues 2  
Irrelevant Issues 3  
Benefits 2  

Verdict? Joke!

Look, here’s what you need to know. We’re friendly. While that means we play nice with American and European security regulations in addition to global security initiatives, and that’s why we update our policies regularly, it also means that we’re an open book. Not sure, all you have to do is go to the CBSA website, which has everything you need. Don’t know where to start? Remember, we’re friendly — you can always send an e-mail or pick up the phone and ask. Our country was, and is, built on immigration and our prosperity is built on global trade. Just follow the process, you can rest assured that you can speed through our border clearance (except, maybe at the Detroit Windsor Tunnel which experiences some of the highest cross-border traffic volumes).