As 2014 begins, we want importers in to Canada to succeed in their cross-border trade activities.  Here is an alphabetical guide to some the relevant Canadian customs/border issues.

A =  Ascertained Forfeitures – The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will issue an assessment based on best information available if they do not have the item.  For example, if you go on a cruise and do not declare the watch/jewelry purchased, the CBSA will guess at the value and issue a notice of ascertained forfeiture.

B = Border – The border is the perimeter that is Canada.  Canada shares its border with the United States.  You must report to the CBSA if you cross the border into Canada (even if you are traveling by hot air balloon or swimming).

C = Canada Border Services Agency – The CBSA enforces Canada’s border laws.  They are the people you meet at border crossings.  The CBSA are law enforcement and not the greeters at Walmart.

D = Duties and Taxes – If you import goods into Canada, you may have to pay duties and taxes to the Receiver General of Canada.

E = Exports – The CBSA may detain and seize exports too.

F = Food – Many food items cannot be imported into Canada without a permit.  Travelers who attempt to import food items may face a $800 penalty.

G = Goods and Services Tax (GST) – The CBSA collects GST on the value for duty of goods imported into Canada, regardless of whether the importer is an individual or business.  GST is collected prior to customs clearance.

H = Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) – The CBSA collects HST on the value for duty of goods imported into Canada by individuals. The PVAT component of the HST is not collected from businesses who must pay the GST at the border prior to customs clearance.

I = Importer of Record – The importer of record is responsible for any duties and taxes.  The importer of record receives the detailed adjustment statements.  If a certificate of origin is incorrect, the importer of record is assessed the duty that should have been paid and penalties/interest.

J = Judicial Review – If you disagree with certain discretionary decisions of the CBSA, you may file an application for judicial review with the Federal Court of Canada – Trial Division.

K = Kits – Determining the H.S. code for a kit may be tricky.  There are many tariff classification issues that arise with respect to parts, accessories and kits.

L = Limitation Periods – Importers need to be aware of limitation periods for filing requests for redetermination, appeals, adjusting entries, voluntary disclosures, refunds, relief, etc.

M = Monetary Instruments – Importers of monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 must report to the CBSA.  There are an increasing number of cases where travelers and importers do not make the reports of monetary instruments because it takes time at the border to complete the forms. It is better to complete the forms that have the monetary instrument seized.

N = Non-resident importers – Importers into Canada who are not “purchasers in Canada” and reside outside Canada are non-resident importers.  This group should expect to see amendments to Canada’s customs laws soon.

O = Origin – A determination of the origin of a good imported into Canada is necessary to receive preferential tariff rates under Canada’s free trade agreements.

P = Penalties – The CBSA imposes penalties when an importer makes an error.  If the importer makes a valid voluntary disclosure, the penalties may be waived.  Canada imposes Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs).  An individual who fails to declare a good may have to pay a penalty of 50% of the value of the good – which can add up.

Q = Quicker – The border wait times can be long.  Having a NEXUS pass may permit a quicker border crossing if the traveler completes the forms in advance and makes a complete declaration.

R = Relief – Canada has a number of duty relief programs, such as duty drawback, duty deferral, and bonded warehouses.

S = Subsequent Proceeds – Subsequent proceeds must be added to the price paid or payable for valuation purposes.  If the amount is determined after the importation, an adjusting entry must be filed and additional duties and taxes must be paid.  If the adjustment is downward, the importer cannot claim a refund under Canadian law.

T = Tariff Classification = Goods imported into Canada must be classified by H.S. tariff codes.  If the importer uses the wrong H.S. Code for the good, additional duties and taxes may be payable (and AMPs penalties).  Most cases relate to tariff classification issues.

U = Undervaluation = If an importer under-values a good imported into Canada, the importer will receive a detailed adjustment statement and have to pay additional duties and taxes and AMPS penalties.  If a Canadian citizen or resident undervalues the goods brought back to Canada, the goods will be seized and penalties will be imposed.

V = Valuation = An importer must pay duties and taxes on the value for duty of the goods imported into Canada.  There are valuation rules in the Customs Act.

W = Wood – If an importer imports goods on wood pallets, a fumigation certificate must be provided or the goods will not enter Canada.

X = X -rated – Importations of x-rated materials may be prohibited under Canada’s laws.  Keep it clean folks.

Y = Yellow – Importers should exercise caution when importing goods into Canada.

Z = Zebra – Canada’s customs rules are not always black and white.