Canada-U.S. Blog Trade Lawyers Cyndee Todgham Cherniak and Susan K. Ross

How to Avoid Problems at the Canada/US Border When You Return with Goods You Left With

Posted in Border Security, Canada's Federal Government, Customs Law, NEXUS
A graphic image depicting the measurement of risk in business.

A graphic image depicting the measurement of risk in business.

Many clients call me to inform me of a “disagreement” with a Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) officer relating to goods from Canada that they took with them on a trip.  Often the problem relates to an expensive ladies purse or a piece of jewelry (sometimes a men’s watch).

On November 13, 2015, the CBSA issued D-Memorandum D-2-6-5 “Documentation of Goods for Temporary Exportation” in which it sets out the policy with respect to personal effects of Canadian residents temporarily exported for use on trips abroad.  the CBSA states

On returning to Canada, it is the individual’s responsibility to establish that such items were initially taken out of Canada and were not acquired abroad. To assist individuals in meeting this requirement, certain goods may be documented on an identification card before leaving Canada. At the time of reimportation, the border services officers will accept this identification card as satisfactory evidence of the origin of the goods. This procedure is optional and is provided free of charge at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offices across Canada.

Prior to leaving Canada, a Canadian resident may attend at a CBSA office with their goods (e.g., purse, jewelry, camera, video equipment, computer/laptop, etc..  Where goods are uniquely identifiable (that is, have a serial number), the CBSA will compete a wallet-sized card called Form BSF407 (formerly Y38) “Identification of Articles for Temporary Exportation”. The individual will then be asked to sign the declaration on the front of Form BSF407, certifying that the goods listed were, to the best of his or her knowledge, either produced in Canada or lawfully imported into Canada. Individuals are not required to produce sales receipts or other proof of lawful purchase or importation when issuing Form BSF407. A properly completed Form BSF407 indicates that the individual presented the goods to the CBSA before leaving Canada. There is no expiry date on the form.

Where the goods are not uniquely identifiable (that is, do not have a serial number), such as a purse, golf clubs, skis, and certain jewelry, the CBSA will offer the individual the option of affixing a BSF407-1 (formerly Y38-1), “Label for Identification of Articles for Temporary Exportation”, to the article for identification purposes. For example, the BSF 407- Label is put in the bottom of the inside of the purse.

While the CBSA’s D-Memo states that if an item that is not uniquely identifiable cannot have a label affixed, it should be left at home, the CBSA does attempt to find a way for wedding rings and engagement rings to be worn when traveling abroad.  I have not heard of a situation where the CBSA does not attempt to complete the paperwork.

NEXUS cardholders can take advantage of this “service”.  We have seen many disagreements lead to a confiscation of a NEXUS card. If you would like to avoid such problems, the CBSA forms are a good option.