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Duty Fees Canada 101: Everything You Should Be Aware Of

Published: March 14, 2024
Author: Diana Zheng

As an integral aspect of international trade and cross-border commerce, understanding every detail of duty fees is crucial for individuals, businesses, and anyone involved in importing or exporting goods.

This article will delve into the fundamental concepts surrounding duty fees in Canada, explore the key factors influencing their calculation, and provide valuable insights to ensure you can confidently navigate the Canadian customs landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Duty fees, or customs duties, are taxes governments impose on goods crossing borders, serving purposes like trade regulation and revenue generation.
  • The CBSA and online resources offer detailed information on duty fees, tariff schedules, and regulations. Consulting with customs brokers can provide accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Shippsy offers assistance in navigating customs processes, ensuring a seamless shipping experience for Canadians purchasing items from the US.

What is a Duty Fee?

customs duty form

A duty fee, or customs duty or tariff, is a tax a government imposes on goods coming in and out of the country. It serves various purposes, including protecting domestic injuries, regulating trade, and generating government revenue.

Duty fees are a percentage of the declared item value, but they can also be based on the quantity or weight of the items.

Duty fees may apply to various goods, including raw materials, finished products, and certain services. People receiving and sending items to and from Canada should know the applicable duty fees for their specific transactions, as failure to comply with customs regulations can result in penalties, delays, or even confiscation of goods.

Duty fees may apply when ordering items online internationally, including in the United States, depending on the destination country's regulations. To avoid surprises during delivery, it's essential to be aware of potential duty fees from US to Canada, taxes, and customs processes.

Who is the Canada Border Services Agency?

Canada Border Services Agency signage

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is a federal law enforcement agency responsible for border enforcement and customs services. The CBSA facilitates the movement of people and goods while enforcing laws and regulations related to border security and trade, among others.

They play a vital role when Canadians order items online from US-based retailers by assessing and collecting applicable duties and taxes. When packages arrive, a border services officer checks for compliance with import regulations, sets duties and taxes owed based on the declared value and facilitates the release of goods once payments are made.

This process helps regulate trade, collect revenue, and uphold security measures. CBSA's role is crucial in safeguarding Canadian interests while facilitating the smooth and lawful flow of goods purchased online from US retailers.

What are the differences between duty and taxes?

blocks with arrow down and the word tax

Duties and taxes are distinct financial obligations associated with international trade. While duties, or customs duties, are taxes imposed by governments on goods coming inside the country, taxes encompass a broader range of levies imposed by governments.

This includes income, sales, or value-added taxes and is not specific to international trade. While duties are specifically tied to the cross-border movement of goods, taxes can apply to various economic activities within a country.

Goods and Services Tax

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a federal tax of 5% applied to most goods and services. Once you order items online from US-based retailers, you can expect a 5% GST imposed on your packages. Additionally, if the destination province has a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), you will also pay for the applicable rate. This process is crucial for revenue generation, regulating cross-border transactions, and ensuring that imported goods are subject to the appropriate taxes under Canada's taxation system.

Harmonized Sales Taxes

The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a combined federal and provincial consumption tax in certain provinces. Canadians purchasing items online from US shops need to pay HST if their home address has adopted the HST system. It combines the GST with provincial sales taxes, streamlining the taxation process. In provinces with HST, the applicable rate, typically 13% to 15%, is applied to importing goods.

Provincial Sales Tax

The Provincial Sales Taxes (PST) is a region-specific consumption tax imposed by some provinces on various goods and services. Unlike the HST, the PST is separate from the federal GST. Not all Canadians buying from US stores have to pay the PST because it depends on the province in which they live. Some provinces impose PST on importing goods, while others do not.

In provinces with PST, the tax is applied at the point of sale, and the CBSA ensures its collection during customs clearance. The PST rates and regulations vary between provinces, impacting Canadian consumers' overall cost of online purchases.

FAQs About Duty Fees

FAQs and lights bulbs

Explore essential FAQs about duty fees: Their calculation, exemptions, and consequences of non-payment. Get insights for smooth international trade.

How are duties and taxes calculated?

Duty fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the declared value of goods, although other factors, such as quantity or weight, may be considered. Rates vary based on the type of goods and the country's tariff schedule.

How does duty apply to online purchases?

Duty fees may apply when ordering items online internationally, including in the United States, depending on the destination country's regulations. To avoid surprises during delivery, it's essential to be aware of potential duties, taxes, and customs processes.

Can duty have a personal exemption?

Some countries have duty-free thresholds or offer exemptions for certain types of goods. Trade agreements can also influence duty exemptions or reductions for specific products.

How do I know if I have to pay import duties?

To determine if you need to pay import duties, consider the value and type of goods, your country's duty threshold, and any applicable trade agreements. Research your items' tariff classification and duty rates, checking for exemptions or allowances.

For Example:

Let's consider the import of leather handbags into Canada.

Tariff Classification:

The Harmonized System (HS) code for leather handbags is typically 4202.22.00.00. The first six digits (4202.22) represent the general category, while the additional digits provide more specific details for classification.

Duty Rates:

Duty rates can vary based on the country of origin and any applicable trade agreements. For example:

  • If the handbags are made in a country with a free trade agreement with Canada, they might be eligible for preferential duty rates or exemptions.
  • If there is no trade agreement, standard Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates could apply.

It's important to note that certain goods may be subject to additional taxes, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), in addition to customs duties.

Consult CBSA or any customs authorities, use online calculators, and review shipping documents for declared values and potential duties. For complex cases, seek advice from customs brokers. Stay informed about any changes in customs regulations that may affect duty requirements.

How can I determine the US-to-Canada duty fees for my shipment?

To calculate potential duty fees, consider the type of goods, their value, and Canada's tariff schedule. Online customs calculators and consulting with customs authorities can help estimate costs accurately.

How do I process an online payment for import duties?

To process an online payment for import duties, follow these steps:

  1. Receive notification. Customs will notify you of payable duties.
  1. Access online platform. Use the designated customs or government website for duty payments.
  1. Provide details. Enter shipment information, including the declared value and type of goods.
  1. Calculate duties. The system will calculate the applicable duties based on the information provided.
  1. Make payment. Use accepted payment methods to complete the transaction securely.
  1. Receive confirmation. After payment, receive confirmation and ensure compliance for smooth customs clearance.

What happens if I don't pay duty fees?

Failure to pay duty fees can result in customs delays, penalties, or confiscation of goods. Complying with customs regulations and paying applicable fees ensures a smooth import or export process.

What happens if I don't provide a detailed description of the package?

Failure to provide accurate details of the package may lead to various consequences. Customs authorities rely on precise information for duty assessment and regulatory compliance. Inaccuracies can result in delays, additional inspections, fines, or shipment seizure.

Providing false information may be considered a violation of customs laws, leading to legal repercussions. To ensure a smooth import process, it's crucial to truthfully and comprehensively declare the details of the package to customs authorities.

Where can I find more information about duty fees?

The CBSA provides detailed information on duty fees, tariff schedules, and import/export regulations. Online resources and consulting with customs brokers are valuable for accurate and up-to-date information.

Let Shippsy Handle the Customs Process For You

Send Shippsy a message for more information about duty fees in Canada.

If you plan to purchase something from the US but find customs processes challenging, you don't have to worry because Shippsy can help you.

Shippsy is a Canada-based cross-border shipping provider dedicated to bringing your US orders to Canada at an affordable price. They will also handle the customs process so you can enjoy a seamless shipping experience.

Here's the summary of taxes and duties:

Total Import ValueCBSA DutyCBSA Tax
Less than CAD 40No DutyNo Tax
More than CAD 40 but less than CAD 150No DutyPersonal Import 13%, Business Import 5%
More than CAD 150Duty Applicable, 0% to 25% based on the product categoryPersonal Import 13%, Business Import 5%


  • There is no duties on a product made in North America.
  • Please note that the only agreement honoured by our broker is CUSMA. (Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement).
  • CBSA Duty and VAT will be assessed based on the value of items imported PER DAY.

Save time, reduce stress, and ensure compliance with customs regulations.

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