If you have a cute little puppy on your lap as you cross the border or a dog crate in the back of the minivan, expect the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ask some questions about the dog.  The CBSA recently released information about the December 2013 cases of non-compliance.  The CBSA gives the following examples:

  • Travelers who bought a dog in the US, claiming it was worth $500 US, but then admitted it actually cost them $1,900 US.  They were given penalties of $670.
  • A man declared $1,000 for a puppy he bought from a breeder in the United States. A quick check showed he paid $3000 for the dog.  He ended up paying a $1,100 penalty.

We have seen this happen many times.  The CBSA knows that breeders of pure breed dogs ask for significant amounts for a puppy.  If the value appears too low, the CBSA will ask where you located the breeder.  If you say Craigslist, they will search by the breed of dog and the location of the breeder to find the original advertisement.  If you say you negotiated the price by email, they will search your Blackberry/iPhone/computer for the email exchange.

If you provide the CBSA with an invoice that just does not seem right, the CBSA will accuse you of providing a false invoice.  It happens more often than you would think.

The CBSA would prefer that travelers make an accurate declaration.  The proper paperwork should be provided and make sense.  If the price is lower than what would be usual, the seller should provide a written explanation.  For example, a traveler acquired the pick of the little because her Canadian dog was used as a stud.  Another traveler owned the mommy dog and was surprised by a little of puppies while spending the summer in New York State.  Another traveler returned with a dog after the owner had passed away and did not want to put the dog down.  There are many valid reasons for a lower value for duty – they key is proving that the facts are accurate and truthful.