Frequently Asked Questions
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Here are some common ones.
What does a customs broker do?
A customs broker facilitates customs clearance of goods imported into a country. At Near North, that would be imports into Canada and the United States.
1. On your behalf, we receive documents from the carrier that your shipment is arriving or has arrived. We then ensure all the required documents are in order. This includes permits, licenses or certificates, and any other special documents required by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Canada and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the US to clear customs. If there are missing documents or information, we will either contact you or your supplier to obtain the documents.
2. The mode of transport in which your goods arrive also require different documents and fees, or confirmation of goods that have arrived. We ensure these documents are in order and fees are paid so that we can then submit the necessary paperwork for your imported goods to clear customs through the CBSA (or CBP in the US).
3. We compile all the necessary information and submit it to the CBSA. Generally speaking, this is done by sending details of your shipment to the CBSA electronically. In some cases, we have to prepare a package with the documents and either courier or deliver it to the CBSA ourselves.
4. We calculate the amount of duties and taxes owed by classifying each commodity in your shipment and ensure the declaration is compliant with CBSA regulations. Once your goods have been processed and finalized with CBSA, we’ll send you an invoice for our services with the B3 Customs Coding Form and the applicable backup documents for your records. For the majority of truck freight coming into Canada from the US, customs clearance is done while goods are in transit. If you don’t have transportation prepared for the delivery of your goods, we can arrange this for you.
At Near North Customs Brokers, we also:
- Offer six locations across Canada, including a head office in Barrie, Ontario, and our US office in Williamsville, New York to provide the best personalized service.
- Clear customs entering Canada in any province.
- Keep you up to date on all relevant information as it pertains to importing into Canada (and the US).
- Assist you with exporting goods from Canada.
- Do all the above to import commercial goods into the United States.
- Have an office in the United States to clear customs in the US at any port of entry.
- Provide trade consulting and freight-forwarding services.
- Keep current with changes in processes and documents required by the CBSA in Canada and the CBP in the US and other government departments that dictate the importation of goods into Canada and the US respectively.
What are the steps to importing goods into Canada with Near North?
1. Research the goods you are thinking of importing.
It’s important to make sure that the goods you are planning on importing are actually allowed entry into Canada. There are various government departments that may have regulations on the products you are thinking of importing. Certain commodities require permits, licenses or other formal permission to allow their entry into Canada. This stage would include calculating the actual costs of importing — freight, duties, taxes and other service fees. We help you at each step of the process.
2. Set up an account with Near North Customs Brokers.
This gives Near North Customs Brokers the power to act on your behalf with the CBSA, with a General Agency Agreement. We can calculate the actual costs of importing for you, as well as help you with all required documents.
3. Order the shipment from your supplier.
Generally you would make arrangements for how the goods would be shipped (mode of transport) to you at this time as well. Let your supplier know that Near North Customs Brokers is going to be your customs broker so that they notify us when your goods are coming into Canada (and we can get everything ready to clear customs with the CBSA).
*See the FAQ: What paperwork does my supplier need to provide?
4. The goods are shipped.
Once the goods are on their way to Canada, your supplier will inform Near North when and where your goods are coming into Canada. Near North will ensure the declaration is submitted to the CBSA and your goods released once they arrive at the port of entry.
5. The goods are delivered.
Once the goods have been cleared by the CBSA, they can be delivered to you. Depending on the credit arrangements made with Near North, you will either be required to remit payment prior to delivery or on the terms of credit we have arranged with you.
What paperwork does my supplier need to provide?
Once you have made a purchase from your supplier, you and your supplier will need to prepare for the shipping of the goods. Generally, you will agree how the goods are going to be shipped and who is responsible for the freight. When the goods are shipped, it is usually the freight company/carrier that sends documents to your customs broker to let them know when and where they will be arriving in Canada. But it is the supplier of the goods that provides the carrier with the proper documents as outlined below.
This can be a Canada Customs Invoice or a regular commercial invoice, so long as it shows the information listed below:
- Purchaser or Importer of goods: Name and Address
- Delivery Address of goods
- Supplier: Full Name and Address
- Clear Description of Goods (to classify for duties and tax purposes)
- Date: When goods leave Supplier
- Origin of Goods: Where the goods were manufactured
- Fair Market Value ($ and Currency) of the Goods
- Purchase Order or Invoice Number
2. CUSMA Certificate of Origin
If the goods are manufactured or produced in the USA or Mexico, your supplier needs to provide a CUSMA/USMCA Certificate of Origin.
3. Other Certificates
Any certificates and other documents that might apply to the goods being imported.
GST & HST - How are they applied to imported goods?
Commercial imports into Canada are only subject to GST at the time of import. This is calculated at 5% of the Canadian value of the goods based on the exchange rate on the date of direct shipment to Canada.
HST is only applied to personal/casual goods not imported through a business. HST is charged based on the province where your goods are cleared by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). For example, if you are a BC-based business, but your goods are cleared in a province that charges HST, you will be charged HST.
- Commercial Goods: The CBSA only collects the federal portion, which is equivalent to GST (5%)
- Personal and Casual Goods: The CBSA collects the whole HST, which is GST plus provincial taxes.
What does Near North Customs Brokers need from me when importing a vehicle into Canada?
First, you need to ensure that the vehicle you wish to import is allowed into Canada. To ensure that you follow all the regulations for importing a vehicle into Canada, visit: Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) or Transport Canada.
What we need from you:
1. Copy of the title/certificate. (If it exists)
2. Bill of Sale
3. When and where the vehicle will arrive in Canada
- $100 excise tax for air conditioning
- $325 to register the vehicle
- $1000-$4000 if low fuel economy. (This is only for cars and SUV’s — Trucks are not included.)
- GST (PST is normally paid when the vehicle is insured)
- 6.1% Duty – Note: If the car is manufactured in the United States or Mexico, there would be no duty payable, if you can provide a CUSMA Certificate of Origin.
- Customs brokerage fee to Near North Customs Brokers
For detailed instructions, see our Guide to Importing a Vehicle to Canada from the United States
*The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires 72 hours —only business days count — advance notice for any vehicle leaving the US.
*Most of the US border crossings won’t clear vehicles except during normal business hours — 8:30 – 4:00pm Mondays to Fridays and not on holidays.
How much duty will I pay on the goods I import into Canada?
Duty rates vary. We can help you if you provide the following information:
- Description of the goods
- Origin of the goods (where it was manufactured)
- What the goods will be used for
How do I make an appeal on duties with the Canada Border Services Agency?
We can make the appeal on your behalf. Just contact us at our head office by filling out our Contact Us form below or by calling us:
How do I set up a trade consultation with Near North Customs Brokers?
Send us a note through our contact form below.
Or call us:
- Phone: 1.705.739.0024
- Toll-Free: 1.888.739.4002
How do I open an account with Near North Customs Brokers?
Go to the Set up Account page on our website, fill and sign the forms, and email them to us. We’ll get you set up quickly and efficiently.