Buy from private party in Canada, drive to USA...duties, taxes, customs?

Discussion in 'Packing & Shipping' started by Wildcat, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

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    I can't really think of a better place to put this post, but here goes.

    On Audiogon--a pair of speakers were listed for sale in Windsor, Ontario. We are a border town. Rather than shipping, I had considered having the seller drive across the border to meet me on the other side, which of course I would have compensated him for. The sale expired, so the deal won't happen. At least, not this time. By the next one, I should have either my enhanced license or passport on hand. I do not want to rule out an area so close that I can drive to it.

    For future reference though, how are cross-border private sales handled in terms of customs, duties, etc.? I mean, heck, I could loan something expensive to a person on Ontario, and bring it back across the border. Or I could buy it, and claim the sale was at a far lower value. Do they take our word for this? How do we prove we own something? I realize we can get a receipt from a seller, and there is no reason why the seller wouldn't put a low value on a receipt to help things out. Within reason, of course. Saying a pair of expensive speakers is $80 won't work, but saying $300 or $400 might fly.

    Shipping from Windsor to the US is kind of pointless--there is the chance for damage, the cost of it, the hassle of having the seller box them up, etc. For a half hour drive (minus bridge or tunnel traffic delays), that would be a waste.

    So anyway, I'm curious to see if anyone here has done this, where the in-person sale was made and the item personally brought across the border. The Internets turn up nothing useful, other than the usual shtick about amounts we are allowed to buy and bring back to the US with us. I am also concerned about some of the power-tripped customs agents we have here.
     

     

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  2. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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    You need to have a receipt for the price of the piece so they can then determine form the price, the customs price.
     
  3. luvvinvinyl

    luvvinvinyl Aggie! Staff Member Admin Subscriber

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    Wildcat, when crossing the border, it works much better if the item is being imported rather than exported. IOW, you bring the item into the US, rather than your Windsorite, a Canadian, bringing something into the US. Potentially, he would be liable for export fees, and paperwork. I was taking a turntable over to Kegger, and US Customs wanted to charge me export fees, until I showed them that the US was the country of origin, and that I wasn't charging him. Likewise, when I was bringing gear back in, I wasn't charged sales tax on the item, because it had a declared value of under $200, which seems to be the 'soft limit' on getting waived through.

    When you bring goods home, since the US has no Federal Sales Tax, and no reciprocal agreement with the State of Michigan, to collect State Sales Tax, you won't get charged anything for that. You can always check the US regulations on dutiable items. On the few classes of loudspeakers that are dutiable, the rate appears to be 2.4% This is only if the speakers came from a place not covered by a duty-free agreement. Canada happens to be one such place. NAFTA, you know.

    So, it looks like you will have to go and get them, but you should be in the clear, upon return.
     
  4. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

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    Thanks much, Ernie. I hadn't considered import vs. export. The speakers in that sale were either US or Canadian origin--Martin Logan is in Kansas, but I think they also had production in Canada at one point. (I believe their headquarters is still in Kansas, so that may be good enough.)

    For Kegger's turntable, did you have to show any proof that you weren't charging him, or did they just take your word for it?
     
  5. luvvinvinyl

    luvvinvinyl Aggie! Staff Member Admin Subscriber

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    That was my declaration. They could not prove otherwise. Besides, it was an old turntable. Clearly these things are only good for sitting on a shelf, something to look at.

    Customs officer: "How old is this record player?"

    Me: "I don't know, 40, 45 years old, I guess."

    Customs officer: "Decorative value. Away you go. Have a nice day."

    (a very nice Ariston RD-11s, with a nice Ortofon MC cart hanging from a Magnepan Unitrac tonearm.)
     
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  6. luvvinvinyl

    luvvinvinyl Aggie! Staff Member Admin Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,402
    Location:
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    Made in US or Canada, then you are good, either way.

    Made in US? They are coming home.

    Made in Canada? NAFTA, so duty-free.
     
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  7. MacNoob

    MacNoob dazed and confused

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    As a Canadian, if I take something to the USA with the intention of selling it, it's considered a commercial import to USA by me... lots of paperwork and possible taxes.
    If you as an American come to Canada and take it home with you, then it's a personal import by you. No paperwork and you get to bring in (I think) $800 value before any taxes kick in.

    I am not a customs officer. Do not consider this legal advice. For entertainment purposes only. Not to be taken internally.
     
  8. tyeeslayer

    tyeeslayer Super Member

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    This^^^^^^ And I will add, as someone who has brought a lot of new stuff from the U.S. to Canada I have found honesty is the best. Be honest and up front, if you do have to pay it is minimal unless it is a mater of trade contention like booze, tobacco, firearms or cheese. Yes cheese, that is the only thing I got a warning about at the border.
     
  9. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

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    I don't mind paying duties so much, as long as they are not a huge chunk of change. But I agree honesty is the best. For me it is just a case of being prepared, as opposed to finding out the hard way I might get socked for it, interrogated, etc.

    I plan to use externally only. ;)
     
  10. olson_jr

    olson_jr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I brought back an entire Ford Edge filled with Altec's that I picked up near Toronto. The agent on the American side asked if they were for home or professional use. Told him home use , he said audio guys are crazy, and he waved me through.

    I wish I would have taken a picture of the car filled with speakers and the 6 sound panels I had. Best the stereo has ever sounded in my wife's car. As a matter of fact, there was hardly any road noise noticeable in the car with all the sound panels.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

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    Location:
    MI, US
    That's the agent I need to get at the crossing. I guess they've seen a few of us in their day. ;)

    A few years back--two Martin Logans freshly packed up in Danbury CT, ready to head home. 6 ft. tall. I had to put the passenger's seat all the way forward and pull the headrest, but, it all fit! This was before all the luggage I had with me, which was tucked between everything.

    upload_2017-12-6_10-10-30.png

    Thankfully my next possible pair are only 59" tall...but the cargo area on my current ride is a few inches shorter (the seats tumble forward vs. folding flat) so I may have to do some creative wrenching before I leave the house.
     
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