Are you attending a trade show across the border? This post will teach you what you need to know about Trade Show Imports into the U.S. or Canada.
Trade Show Imports: Saul Better Call Us
Saul was going to display his super duper machine at a trade show in Houston, Texas. His machine was bound to be a disruptor in the market and he was excited to show it off. Saul booked his booth, made his travel plans and hooked his machine to the back of his pick up, threw his promotional material in his suitcase and headed for the border.
What Saul did not know was he had to take certain steps before he made his way out of Canada and into the U.S.
- He did not realize that the window cleaner and paper towel he would use to clean his display booth each night is considered a consumable item and would need a declaration for the portion used while he was in the U.S.
- Saul did not know that the promotional material he would distribute at the event would need a consumption entry
- He did not understand that the super duper machine would need a bond to avoid paying the entire amount of duties and taxes.
Needless to say, Saul was late to his trade show and he had a few more expenses (in the form of penalties) that he did not account for in his budget.
With 2018 freshly upon us you might have the same opportunity ahead. A trade show could likely be on your horizon. If you are asking the question “how can I get my trade show goods across the border?” first off, kudos to you for researching. Secondly, hooray, you have come to the right place.
In this blog you will find a practical checklist to help you prepare for an international trade show. As well as, what you will need to know to import your trade goods into the U.S. or Canada.
Trade Show Imports Checklist (7)
(1) Take Inventory
Make a list of what you want to bring to the show and split the list into two sections.
Section one will include everything you want to leave behind. Anything you would use, consume, giveaway or sell while in the country.
The second section will include everything you will bring home.
(2) Remove Purchasable Products
If you have an item that will be used or consumed in the visiting country, a simple option is to buy the product once you arrive rather than import them. A good example would be cleaning supplies. Even something as simple as glass cleaner could provide a hold-up at customs. Purchasing supplies in the country you are visiting will eliminate risks when clearing customs.
(3) Are the Goods Eligible?
Check with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Participating Government Agency, or your Customs Broker to see if there are any restrictions on the goods you are wanting to take to the show.
(4) Marking, Quantity & Packaging
All samples must meet marking regulations, and they must be within the country’s quantity and packaging requirements. Otherwise your goods could experience delays or be seized at customs.
(5) Entry Type
Find out from your customs broker what is the best type of entry to use for your goods. A Customs Broker will be able to help with your timeline requirements and potentially reduce your costs at customs.
(6) Letter of Recognition
The International Events and Convention Services Program (IECSP) was developed to encourage businesses and organizations to hold trade shows, conventions, events and exhibitions in Canada. They provide guidance and information to facilitate event participants, foreign exhibitors, and temporary imported goods and materials, into and out of Canada.
CBSA offers the IECSP in order for you to have one primary contact to provide you with federal government services and requirements associated with international events and conventions taking place in Canada.
The event organizer will often work alongside the IECSP’s Regional Coordinator to ensure all parties are prepared for customs entry. Once CBSA recognizes the event, they will provide a letter of recognition to the event organizers, the customs broker or designated event representatives.
The letter will contain:
- The name and type of event
- The date and location of the event
- The expected number of participants
- Who is responsible for processing any CBSA documents
- Event Organizer
- Customs Broker
- Delegated Representative
- Goods brought into Canada, their origin and intended use
- Controlled goods being imported
- Goods that will be sold or given away
- If applicable, a note requesting the event be considered for Border to Show Service
- What goods can possibly enter duty free and/or receive partial relief from GST/HST
It is important for you to get a copy of the letter of recognition to ensure your entry process at the border is smooth.
(7) Time Limits
Some imports must be exported within a certain time frame. Take note of the entry date to make sure you do not go past expiry. For instance, the IECSP requires 15-30 business days notice in order to help you prepare for the customs clearance. If the request is made with less than 15 business days it is up to the IECSP’s Regional Coordinator to decide whether or not to provide a letter of recognition.
Trade Show Importing into the U.S.
Is Your Import Duty Free?
Souvenirs, branded paraphernalia and advertising materials are eligible to be duty free if they can be applied to a Free Trade Agreement. Office machines and equipment can be duty free if they enter under a Temporary Import Bond (TIB). For commercial samples and apparel samples, they can enter the country duty free if their value is less than $1.00 USD. For anything over $1.00 USD, to be considered duty free, customs must modify the goods to the point where they are unsuitable for resale. This is done by marking, tearing, perforating, gluing, or otherwise altering the goods.
Is a Merchandise Processing Fee Applied?
All of your imports require a merchandise processing fee unless they are under a Free Trade Agreement. Unsure of what a Merchandise process Fee is? Check out our Blog Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) Explained.
Your Recommended Entry
Consumption entries are recommended for souvenirs, branded paraphernalia, advertising material, and commercial/apparel samples. For office machines and equipment where the duty is above $100.00 USD you would be best suited to import under a Temporary Import Bond. Keep in mind Temporary Import Bond items must be exported within 12 months of entry.
Errors You Will Most Often See
In speaking with our U.S. release Operations Manager, Breanna Leininger, she described the most common errors you will see when you try to import items for a trade show into the U.S.:
“The most common errors we see are in packaging and invoicing. When looking to import goods into the U.S. for a tradeshow it is vitally important to package and invoice consumables such as giveaways separate from the trade show booth. This will prove to be helpful if you are flagged for inspection, as well as open you up to entry filing options that will save you time, money, and a headache.”
Note: We recommend getting items you could buy from a store, such as cleaning supplies, in the country your trade show is in. Items purchased in a store can require additional statements and manufacturing information you may not have access to when purchasing from a store.
Trade Show Importing into Canada
Is Your Import Duty Free?
Souvenirs are duty free if a Free Trade Agreement can be applied. Branded paraphernalia is duty free as long as it is exported back with you. Office machines and equipment, as well as, display goods are duty free if they are exported within 18 months. For advertising materials, most paper goods are conditionally duty free, any other materials must be applicable to a Free Trade Agreement. Finally, commercial samples and apparel samples are duty free.
Is Your Import GST Exempt?
Souvenirs and advertising materials are not exempt. Branded paraphernalia is exempt if it is exported. Office machines and equipment are GST exempt. Commercial samples and apparel samples are GST exempt if only one of each is displayed or if the samples are clearly not for resale. Finally, display goods are exempt as long as they are exported within 6 months.
Your Recommended Entry
Souvenirs and advertising materials intended for sale or consumption in Canada must be accounted for on a B3. Any branded paraphernalia left in Canada must also be accounted for on a B3. E29Bs are required for returning branded paraphernalia, office machines and equipment, as well as, display goods.
Errors You Will Most Often See
In speaking with our Canadian release Operations Manager, Cherie Storms, she described the most common errors you will see when you try to import items for a trade show into Canada:
“Forgetting to ask the event organizer if the event has been approved by CBSA, and if so, travelling with the approval letter which supports the purpose of entry. Also, bringing in consumables that will not be returned, forgetting that there may be duties and taxes on those”.
Why You Should Declare Your Trade Show Imports
Not declaring items intended for business purposes is illegal. Customs can make samples useless for resale and your goods could even be seized or destroyed. Keep in mind not being prepared at customs can delay your journey. Being forced to complete all of the paperwork at the port of entry can be a huge headache and time consuming. Knowing before you go will make your trade show experience pain-free.