Archive for the ‘US Customs’ Category


TradeTalk |BC Trees and Trade Agreements

Softwood, Hardwood and Forestry - NAFTA Re-Negotiations


A year after the initial signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on February 4th, 2016, the U.S. pulls out and presses forward on renegotiations of NAFTA as well. Will these U.S. Trade actions impact Hardwood, Forestry Trade or Softwood Lumber Agreement negotiations between the U.S. and Canada?

With the October 12, 2015 expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) and looming concern over tariff increases due to the December 16, 2016, United States Department of Commerce decision to initiate countervailing and anti-dumping investigations into imports of certain Canadian softwood lumber products the conversation and its topics seems to have changed between these two countries – or has it? Let’s have a look at what the goals for the forestry industry were in that conversation by both sides, and then let’s look realistically on the status of those goals today.

On the U.S. side the concern is:

Q – Were too many concessions made to get trades agreements in place (TPP or NAFTA) or others?

Q – Are U.S. companies facing hardships because of current lumber trading activities?


On the Canadian side of the conversation:

Q – Did the Canadians press more feverently to get the TPP Agreement signed?

Q – Why claim our crown land lumber is subsidized – it has been proven otherwise in court.

Hardwood, Softwood and BC Trees:


Let us first take a look at Forestry and TPP. According to Joel Neuheimer Canadians did press into it, and for what appears to be clear reasoning and benefit to Canada:

The reason, as noted by Joel Neuheimer, Senior Director of International Business at the Association of Canadian forest products , is that with this ratification, the industry will be opening new outlets and increase the level of exports on the international market, particularly to countries such as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Canadian forestry companies export about $33 billion worth of goods each year In more than 180 countries, primarily in Asia.

NOTE*** NOT primarily in the U.S. as many believe.

The TPP Agreement would have removed customs barriers for Canada’s forest products currently subject to tariffs of up to 31% in Vietnam, 40% in Malaysia, 20% in Brunei and 10% in Japan as reported by Etienne Dumont / Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

NAFTA Renegotiations


Second, let’s review the NAFTA Re-negotiations and their impact on softwood lumber.

Trevor Nichols, of Castanet News says – There is hope for softwood lumber!

According to Mr. Nichols, B.C. Premier Christy Clark, while speaking at a breakfast event in West Kelowna on January 27, said Trump’s promise to rebuild the American economy might work in Canada’s favour.


“While the Americans are getting more protectionist, Donald Trump, as a builder, knows intuitively that residential housing starts is a major driver for economic growth for Americans. They cannot grow their housing industry without Canadian softwood going into their country, because it’s just too expensive to build and buy without our lumber.

Because the U.S. can’t produce enough lumber on its own to drive residential building, it’s actually in the country’s best interest to make sure Canadian lumber is filling the void.”

Nick Arkle, the co-CEO of Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd. agrees with Clark, saying Canadian lumber is “critically important” to the U.S.

Additionally, B.C. Forest Minister Steve Thomson shares his thoughts here:

“Since 1982, softwood lumber exports from Canada to the U.S. have been subject to five rounds of U.S. trade litigation. “This is round 5 of this process and the Canadian industry has always been successful in defending its softwood lumber policy,” said Thomson.”

Local update February 05, 2017 | B.C. Forest Minister Steve Thomson flew to Ottawa on Sunday to start working toward a new trade agreement on softwood lumber with the U.S. as officials anticipated release today of the latest U.S. International Trade Commission report on their investigation into the import of Canadian softwood lumber.

You can read this full article in more detail | HERE

For access to a copy of the Fed Register notice issued which means that preliminary reviews are starting for the softwood tariffs listed, you can review what is published so far in regards to the Softwood Lumber Agreement negotiations  HERE  a full scope has not been written as yet.

We know that you also want to know how to have your voices heard in that discussion, especially when you are directly affected.

You have questions:

  • How are the field experts responding to the Trade Deals / Negotiations/ Issues?
  • What are the experts discussing amongst their peers??
  • How is your voice heard in these conversations?

One way to share your voice is to publish your concerns, insights, ideas or expertise online. Each week we publish and share industry news, our insights and reports that impact you as our readers. Do you have something that you would like us to share? Ask? Research for you? Let us know and we will add your requests to our weekly research and publishing goals.


2017 Designation Maintenance Begins in our Professional Development Courses!

A new year means a new start for most everything and this includes a reset to the maintenance requirements of your professional designations set forth by the credential’s governing body. Our Professional Development Courses are about to launch for 2017.
Professional Development Courses Seminars and Webinars

Whether you are a Canadian or U.S. Certified Customs Specialist (CCS), a Certified Trade Compliance Specialist (CTCS), a Certified Export Specialist (CES), a designate with the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) or accounting professional, taking any of Pacific Customs Brokers’ seminars and webinars will earn you maintenance points, credits and hours towards a variety professional designations.

Review and plan your maintenance for the first half of 2017 by clicking on the course’s name below:

CDN Importing for Beginners Part 1
CDN Importing for Beginners Part 2
US Importing for Beginners Part 1 1
US Importing for Beginners Part 2 1
FDA Regulated Goods 2 2 1
CFIA Regulated Goods 2 2
NAFTA for Beginners Part 1 1 1
NAFTA for Beginners Part 2 1
Shipping and Importing Perishables – NEW! 5 5 3 3
CDN Trade Compliance Part 1 5 5
CDN Trade Compliance Part 2 5 5 3
Exporting from Canada 5 5 3 3
US Trade Compliance Part 1 5 5 3
US Trade Compliance Part 2 5 5 3 3
HS Tariff Classification 5 6 4
Free Trade Agreements and Rules of Origin 5 5 5
Customs Valuation 5 3.5
CFIA 5 5
FDA 5 5 3
C-TPAT and PIP 3 3 2 2


If you have never attended one of our Professional Development Courses before, the following information might help you decide on attending the next one.

Professional Development Courses – Webinars

Our webinars are designed to meet the demands of the global trade community. These live webinars are a convenient way for trade professionals to stay ahead of new regulations with international trade and gain additional knowledge in key areas. The benefits of attending an online course include:

  • Cost-effectiveness – More affordable than industry standards and some even offered complimentary
  • Global accessibility – Travel is removed from the equation for companies with multiple locations or branches
  • Convenience – Attend from the comfort of your desk
  • Concise training – In a fast-paced industry, efficiency becomes just as important as staying compliant
  • Industry recognized sessions – Earn points towards maintenance of your industry designations

Professional Development Courses – Seminars and Workshops

At these in-person sessions, you will learn the best practices on being compliant as an importer and/or exporter helping you expedite your commercial shipments rather than triggering costly delays. Our experts share their knowledge on international and cross-border shipping to keep you current with customs and participating government agency regulations.  The benefits of attending an in-person seminar or workshop include:

  • All day access – Get our experts to answer your questions one-on-one
  • Case studies and real-life examples – Examine other attendees’ trade compliance issues
  • Cost-effectiveness – More affordable than industry standards
  • Range of topics – Choose from a wide variety of seminar topics
  • Certificate of Completion – Receive a certificate for each course you attend
  • Handouts – Take home your own set of course material
  • Industry recognized sessions – Earn points towards maintenance of your industry designations
  • Networking – Connect with other like-minded professionals

For future reference, download your own 2017 Spring/Summer Trade Compliance Program today!

Is Canada’s Softwood Lumber Industry Facing a Cold Blow from the South?

Softwood Lumber

Softwood Lumber Importers to the United States May Be about to Find Out!

The U.S. Lumber Coalition has filed petitions with the International Trade Administration for Antidumping (AD) and Countervailing (CV) relief on importations of multiple softwood lumber products originating in Canada.

This article is in response to this advisement just released:

The petitioners allege critical circumstances, requesting that AD and CV duties be applied imminently. If critical circumstance is approved, “CV duties could be applicable to entries filed as early as December 15, 2016, and AD duties could appear as early as February 3, 2017.” Initial review indicates an alleged AD margin of 52.89%, while there are few specifics as to the countervailing rates. We will continue to keep you posted as more is known.

The scope of the AD Duty and CV Duty cases are dispositive. The potential Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) headings and subheadings are provided for convenience only. Language of the scope as presented is detailed here:

Petition Coverage

The merchandise covered by these petitions is softwood lumber, siding, flooring and certain other coniferous wood (‘softwood lumber products’). The scope includes:

  • Coniferous wood, sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, whether or not sanded, or whether or not finger-jointed, of an actual thickness exceeding six millimeters.
    Coniferous wood siding, flooring and other coniferous wood (other than moldings and dowel rods), including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, that is continuously shaped (including, but not limited to, tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, molded, rounded) along any of its edges, ends or faces, whether or not planed, whether or not sanded, or whether or not end-jointed.
  • Coniferous drilled and notched lumber and angle cut lumber.
  • Coniferous lumber stacked on edge and fastened together with nails, whether or not with plywood sheathing.
  • Components or parts of semi-finished or unassembled finished products made from subject merchandise that would otherwise meet the definition of the scope above within the scope of these investigations.

Softwood lumber product imports are generally entered under Chapter 44 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). Softwood lumber products that are subject to these petitions are currently classifiable under the following ten-digit HTSUS subheadings in Chapter 44: [Please see attached for detailed list of 47 specifically-included ten-digit HTSUS provisions].

Subject merchandise may also be classified as stringers, square cut box-spring frame components, fence pickets, truss components, pallet components, and door and window frame parts under the following ten-digit HTSUS subheadings in Chapter 44: 4415.20.40.00; 4415.20.80.00; 4418.90.46.05; 4418.90.46.20; 4418.90.46.40; 4418.90.46.95; 4421.90.70.40; 4421.90.94.00; and 4421.90.97.80.

Although these HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.”

We are here for YOU

In addition to the AD and CV duties, there are likely to be additional requirements from the surety company who provides your Continuous Transaction Bond with Customs. It is imperative that you remain aware of your requirements proactively.

Should you prefer to communicate directly, our Trade Compliance Group is well-versed in AD and CV processes and ready to answer your questions or help to address your concerns. You can reach us 24/7 Toll Free: 877.332.8534 for all entry processing requests.

How to Import Personal Belongings vs Personal Use Goods

Personal Effects
Importing “goods for personal-use,” and importing “personal belongings” are two completely different types of imports with two very different import procedures. They can be easily confused so let us have a closer look by first defining both types of imports.

Personal Belongings

The definition of personal belongings can vary depending on the reason for import such as settling or travelling. For the purpose of this post, we will only be looking at settling in Canada or the United States.

Personal belongings are assets owned such as clothing, toiletries, furniture, kitchenware and other items you would find in a household. Since there is no sale transaction involved most personal belongings are exempt from duty and taxes. These imports are often declared to customs by the owner of the items directly. It’s important to note that some items are restricted, controlled and prohibited so please check with customs before trying to import.

NOTE: Vehicles, although considered a personal belonging, are subject to specific import rules and time-frames required for processing. Many importers are unaware of this fact and arrive at the border unprepared. This results in significant delays which can be avoided by working with a customs broker.

Goods for Personal-Use

A personal import is a transaction where a seller and a purchaser exchange money for personal-use products. The purchaser is not operating as a business but rather “as an individual.” These goods are purchased from outside of the country and must be imported. A good example of these are online purchases via an eCommerce website.

As you can see from the above, your pre-owned hairbrush has a different “definition” than the hairbrush you just purchased from out of the country. As mentioned at the top of this post, each import is processed a little differently as described below.

How to Declare Personal Belongings

If you are moving to Canada or the U.S., both the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have forms available online to declare the personal goods that are travelling with you, and any to follow if they aren’t able to come in one trip. Once you have all your required forms filled out, the next step is to present them to customs at your first port of entry into the country to which you are settling.

NOTE: If you are not travelling with your goods and have instead used a third-party carrier to ship them (i.e. a container by ocean transport), then you will need to meet your goods at the port of entry and present your forms to customs at that time, which will include your carrier’s cargo control document.

How to Declare Goods for Personal-Use

This is a more intricate process, and it is strongly recommended that you hire a customs broker to ensure your compliance with the regulations, avoid unnecessary delays, and prevent monetary penalties or seizure of goods.

It’s important to note the intricacies:

  • The importer of record (IOR), also known as the person importing the goods, is held entirely responsible for all aspects of the import including the accuracy of the information presented to customs.
  • Each country’s customs authority has very specific import regulations, and these regulations must be followed. Customs considers it the importer’s responsibility to understand the regulations and does not show leniency in cases of ignorance, which can prove fatal to your import goals.
  • Each imported item has its own set of rules and import eligibility requirements. Composition, origin, value, method of transport and end-use each play a different role in steering the importation process. Inexperienced importers often find this most difficult to navigate.
  • Importers are in some cases working with multiple government organizations depending on the commodity. Customs works with Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) that regulate imported goods such as Environment Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the environment, economy and inhabitants are protected.
  • Documentation requirements are commodity specific. Produce imports require different paperwork than vehicle imports.
  • Accurate calculation of duties and taxes payable are dependent on accurate interpretation of Customs Law. Without a solid understanding, miscalculations can easily occur.

The first step in this import process is to gather all information required to fill out the specific customs forms required for the entry.

Next Steps

The importer can declare the goods themselves by going to customs with all of the required information, and either meet the carrier upon arrival at the first port of entry, obtain their cargo control document, and complete a customs declaration or, hire a customs broker to work with the carrier and complete the declaration on your behalf.

Listed below are a number of resources available to you for this type of import including the step-by-step process. We have provided general regulations and links to forms required for each type of import below.

Canadian Regulations and Forms

U.S. Regulations and Forms

Declaration – Personal Belongings/Household Item (Settling)

  • Must have been in your possession while abroad.
  • Cannot be sold or otherwise disposed of within twelve months of settling.
  • If you are returning to Canada, you must have been away for no less than one year and the items must have been in your possession and use for a minimum of six months.
  • Must be in possession for more than one year
  • Must have been in your possession while aboard
  • Items cannot be be imported for sale or for the account of any other person
  • Cannot include alcoholic beverages or tobacco products
The declaration process into Canada.


The declaration process into the U.S.


Declaration – Personal-Use Goods (Purchased Outside of Country)

A full list of steps to import into Canada for items with a value greater than $20.00. A full list of steps to import into the U.S. for items owned less than a year with a value greater than $800.00.

Declaration – Vehicles

A full list of steps to import vehicles into Canada. A full list of steps to import vehicles into the U.S.

We pride ourselves on providing helpful and useful insight into the difference between imports for personal-use and personal belonging importing. If you are determined to do it yourself, the information you need is within this article; however, if you realize how very intricate personal goods importing can be we are happy to walk you step by step through the process to ensure your import is as quick and painless as possible. We recommend attending one of our seminars or webinars to understand the process or call us toll-free now!

Renew Free Trade Agreement Certificates for Duty Reduction and Elimination


Free Trade Agreement
















With the end of the year quickly approaching, now is the time for importers and exporters to review, update and renew their blanket Free Trade Agreement Certificates of Origin (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement Certificates of Origin) on file with their customs broker.

Most Free Trade Agreement Certificates of Origin expire on December 31. It is important to communicate with all your suppliers to request 2017 Certificates of Origin to avoid getting caught without one in January. Failure to renew your Certificates of Origin could result in significantly higher Most Favored Nation (MFN) duty rate being assessed on your goods.

Importer Responsibilities Under Free Trade Agreements

Free Trade Agreements provide for duty free entry of qualifying goods originating in participating countries that meet those countries’ rules of origin. In order to benefit from the preferential tariff treatments provided by these countries, the importer is responsible for having a completed and valid Certificate of Origin on file for any goods claiming a reduced or free rate of duty.

Correctly Completed Certificates

For companies reviewing Certificates of Origin from their vendors, the first step is to ensure that at face value the certificate has proper coding and is fully completed. While this might sound like common sense you would be surprised how many certificates are missing information or contain unacceptable data (for instance, on a NAFTA certificate indicating a dollar value in the net cost column). In order to assure accuracy of the data, you need to have sufficient knowledge regarding the completion of the document, the basics of which are usually found on the second page of the applicable Certificate of Origin. If not completed accurately, you are at risk for Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) and potential duties issued by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

How Pacific Customs Brokers Can Help with Free Trade Agreements

As a Pacific Customs Brokers client, should you have questions regarding your free trade agreement renewal, please do not hesitate to contact our Compliance Team by telephone or email.


  • FTA Concierge Services
    For clients with time constraints, we offer convenient FTA Concierge Services. We can solicit FTA certificates directly from your exporters allowing you to do what you do best – run your business.
  • Tariff Classification Consulting
    We offer expert analysis for clients seeking guidance on tariff classification. You may know the ins and outs of your business, but we know the intricacies of trade and always look out for our client’s bottom line.


  • NAFTA Webinar Series
    Join this two-part webinar series to learn about rules of origin under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Each part in the series is 60-minutes in length and will clarify a common assumption that all products manufactured in Canada, the United States or Mexico are eligible for duty free status.
    Learn more or register now!
  • Free Trade Agreements and Rule of Origin Workshop
    In this full-day workshop we will provide you with a comprehensive field-by-field guide to completing a NAFTA certificate. We will assist you in understanding product eligibility, rules of origin, common errors and the importer’s responsibilities under the program to maximize savings.
    Learn more or register now!