Importing Non-Commercial Goods by Mail

What is expected of the exporter?

The person who is sending the mailed item is considered the exporter / sender, according to the CBSA. The exporter must have a written declaration completed and attached to the item being mailed to Canada. Countries participating in the Universal Postal Convention use a standard customs form for declarations.
Canada is just one of the 190 countries who support the Universal Postal Convention.

This convention requires the exporter to attach the customs declaration form to all items that contain goods that are being shipped. The exporter must have the complete name and address of the sender and recipient legible in either French or English. The exporter must also describe the goods, state their origin and value accurately. A declaration that is incomplete or false may result in delays for processing the shipment of gifts.

What items duty can be posted to Canada tax / duty free?

There will be no duties or taxes that will need to be paid if your gift to Canada from UK is worth $60 or less, or is an item worth $20 or less.

Gifts worth $60 or less

A gift that is sent to a person in Canada by a friend or family member abroad will be exempt for duties or taxes as long as it is of or below $60. Advertising material, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco products don't fall under this exemption. If a gift is worth more than $60, you will have to pay duties and taxes on the exceeding amount.

Presents $20 or less

If the gifts that you want to send have a total worth of $20 or less, they may be qualified for duty- free and/ or tax- free.

Those that don't qualify:

  • Cigars, cigarettes, manufactured tobacco, and alcoholic beverages
  • Magazines, periodicals, or books if the publisher should be registered for the GST but isn't
  • Goods you have bought or ordered from a Canadian retailer or intermediary, but were mailed to you directly from outside of Canada

When you send gifts to Canada from the UK that are more than $20 that do not fall under the exemption for souvenir, you will have to pay duties and taxes on the whole value. You may not combine both of the $60 gift exemption and the $0 exemption for the same gifts.

What are the duties, taxes that you have to pay when shipping gifts?

Duties

The CBSA is the one that calculates any duties owed based on the gifts' value in Canadian funds. The rates for duty differ according to the type of presents you are mailing to Canada and from what country they were made in. Some other taxes may apply, depending on the presents and their value.

Duties on various prezzies that are imported from the United States and Mexico are eliminated under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA rates apply when goods you're importing are made in Mexico or the United States.

GST

You have to pay the Goods and Services Tax on most of the gifts you mail to Canada. This makes sure the presents that are imported are taxed the same way as those sold or provided in Canada. The CBSA calculates the GST on the item's duty-paid value, the total value plus any duties applied converted to Canadian funds.

HST

Canada's government has made agreements with certain provinces to collect the Harmonized Sales Tax at a 13 percent rate. If you are located in a participating providence, you will need to pay HST instead of the GST. The CBSA calculates the HST the same as the GST is calculated, the tax paid is based on the item's duty- paid value.

You will not need to pay the provincial portion of the HST on books at the time of import. But, you will have to pay the remainder of the tax if it hasn't been collected from you by the publisher.

Shipping gifts to CanadaPST and tobacco tax

The PST is collected by the CBSA on behalf of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario, and both Provincial Sales Tax and tobacco taxes on behalf of Manitoba, Quebec and British Columbia. On behalf of New Brunswick and Alberta, the CBSA collects tobacco taxes. The PST is collected on most taxable non- commercial gifts in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario.

Post handling fee in Canada

The Canadian Post Corporation is authorized to charge the receiver a fee for remitting and collecting the duty and taxes that are owed to the government when giveaways are being delivered by mail. For mail gifts there is a handling fee of $5, and an $8 fee for express items.

How the duties and taxes you owe are paid

Before they release the mail to you, Canada Post officials will collect the total amount you owe in taxes, duties and handling fees.

Where is the CBSA processing the mail?

Canada Post sends any mail that contains gifts and is received from outside Canada to one of three CBSA mail centres across the country. Border service officers in these locations screen the mail and decide if the prezzies are allowed into the country, and if any duties or taxes need to be paid.

How is the CBSA processing the mail?

The gift in mail is screened and examined by border service officers to make sure the packages are following the requirements that apply to presents being imported.

The CBSA is authorized by the Customs Act to open any package with a weight of 30 grams or more, but if it is below that weight, CBSA will need to get permission from either the sender or recipient. If the person sending the gift to Canada from United Kingdom hasn't filled out a customs declaration form to authorize the CBSA to open the package, the CBSA may have to send a letter to the person receiving the package to get permission to open it. If there is no permission given, then the package will not be released to Canada Post for delivery.

To verify the contents provided on the declaration, an officer can open a present to make sure everything inside is what was written on the declaration. If no declaration is attached or incomplete, the gift may be sent back to the sender. Any package that has been opened by CBSA will be clearly marked as so.

Tax- and duty- free mail

During an inspection, where the mail is not opened, the item will be stamped as ‘cleared customs' as long as these apply:

  • No duties or taxes are owed
  • The present does not have to meet any requirements of other government departments, but they will be sent to a secondary inspection area if any of these apply:
    • There are taxes and duties owed for the package;
    • There are controlled goods in the package
    • Gift needs a better examination

Mail owing duty and tax

The gifts in the package will be put into the CBSA's automated system, either using the description on the declaration or from examining the presents. The system automatically calculates any taxes or duties that are owed and prints out the information on a CBSA Postal Import Form.

Form includes:

Sending gifts to Canada by mail
  • Name and address of the recipient
  • Description of gifts and tariff classification
  • Value of package in Canadian funds
  • Any taxes or duties owed
  • GST and HST owing
  • Any tobacco tax or PST owed
  • Handling fee for Canada Post

Questioning the amount you owe?

If you think there is an error on the amount of duties and taxes that is on the CBSA Postal Import Form, you may ask for the package to be re assessed ( review amount charged before you pay) or an adjustment (review after you have paid).

Reassessment

If you would like the amount of duties and taxes being charged, you must refuse the delivery of the gift and ask the Canada Post to return it to the CBSA. A representative from the Canada post will then ask for your contact number to give the CBSA so they can contact you. The prezzy will be returned to the CBSA and you will be given a copy of the form by the Canada Post.

Once your gift has been received by the CBSA, someone will contact you and discuss your issues with the form. If there are no corrections that are needed to be done, the CBSA will complete a replacement form and attach it to the package which will be redelivered and you will have to pay the owed amount. If the CBSA finds out that there are no duties and taxes that apply to the gift, they will cancel the original form and return the mail to be sent to you. Because there are no duties or taxes, you will not need to pay any of those or even a handling fee.

Adjustment

If you would like the duties and taxes reviewed by the CBSA after you have already paid, you will need to complete the Form B2G. This questionnaire is printed on the reverse of the top copy of Form E14. You will then send the completed form and any supporting documents to a CBSA refund centre that is closest to you. Any supportive documents would include invoices that show the correct value or any other material that describes the product. These will help the CBSA determine the actual value of the good or the applied duty rates (if any).

How to return a gift to sender?

If you would like to return the gifts being sent to you back to the sender before you pay the duties and taxes, you must ask Canada Post upon delivery. Canada post will need your signature to verify the request and will then notify the CBSA that the present has been sent back to the UK.

If you want to return gifts after you have paid for the duties and taxes, you can ask the CBSA for a refund by completing the B2G Form, which is printed on the top back of the Form E14. You will need proof attached, like a credit note from the sender or a bill of landing to show that you have mailed the gifts to Canada. You will then need to send the form completed to a nearby CBSA refund centre, and they will process your claim and refund any duties or taxes paid.

What items can't be a gift?

Mailing gifts

These items are not allowed to be imported:

  • Child pornography
  • Hate propaganda or any obscene material
  • Illegal drugs
  • Any weapons that are prohibited
  • Any endangered animals or any part of them as well

When a package contains giveaways that are not permitted, they will dispose of them. If there is a package that has gifts that are allowed and some that aren't, they will open the package and dispose of the ones not allowed and ship off the ones that are. The officer will also include a letter in the package to explain why some items were taken out of the package.

Can firearms be imported by mail?

Firearms can be imported by mail, but you must have appropriate license and permit/s. Having the firearms shipped by mail is only permitted if the location is within Canadian borders and if the item is being securely (i.e. needing signature upon delivery). If you are shipping a firearm by the mail that is or isn't restricted, the CBSA will need to see appropriate license and permit(s) before being able to release it to you.

What items are not able to be mailed?

Items that are unable to be mailed would include any gifts that could possibly endanger any postal employees, ruin their equipment or are a regulation of Canadian requirements.

Examples may include:

  • Any replica or inert military ammunition
  • flammable items
  • aerosol cans
  • matches
  • corrosive substances

Any suspected gifts will be detained by border Service officers, and Canada Post will be requested to determine if they are able to be mailed or not.

Mail import of intoxicating liquor

Only people who are authorized by a provincial government or Government of Canada are able to send intoxicating liquor as gifts by mail to Canada. If a border service officer finds unauthorized intoxicating liquor in a package, they will remove the item and bring it to Canada Post to dispose of it.

How to import controlled goods

An example of controlled goods would be firearms, plants, and plant products. If you plan on importing controlled goods to Canada, you will need a special permit in order to be able to import them.

The CBSA will hold any controlled gifts being sent into Canada until the proper permits are given. If you do try to import a controlled item, the CBSA will send you a letter stating that you will need to show the proper permit in order for it to be sent to Canada Post. Once you provide the needed permit(s), they will then be able to send presents to Canada Post to distribute the package to you. The government departments that issue out these special permits are the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Foreign Affairs, International Trade Canada, Health Canada and Environment Canada.

If you are unable to provide the proper permit(s), you will have to agree in writing to either let the CBSA dispose of them or send it back to the sender.

Controlled goods examples:

  • Environment Canada- Canadian Wildlife Service: Snakeskin, cowboy boots and a variety of plants and animals and their by-products
  • Health Canada- prescription drugs and biological products
  • Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: goods and clothing that are eligible for preferential tariff treatment
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency- seeds, soils, grains, fertilizers, plants and plant products, animal feed and forestry products

For more tips and advice on how to send gifts to Canada from the UK please contact our office. We will be happy to advise you on the cheapest way of shipping gifts.

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