Posts Tagged ‘Trade Show’


How to Import for a Trade Show in the U.S. or Canada



Trade Show Imports Stand

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.

  1. He did not realize that the entire bottle of window cleaner would need to be declared and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) would require a statement for the declaration.
  2. Saul did not know that the promotional material he would distribute at the event would need a consumption entry
  3. He did not understand that the super duper machine could be a consumption entry or a bond. A consumption entry would be the better choice if the machine is dutiable. If it is not dutiable, it would be better to use a bond. However, a bond comes with a tight timeline and increases the chance of a penalty.


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

Section one will include anything you could leave behind. Anything you would use, consume, giveaway or sell while in the country.

Section Two

The second section will include everything you will bring home in its entirety.

(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.

Some trade shows will have a letter of recognition that is provided from CBSA to the event organizer. If the trade show you are attending has a letter of recognition you will be able to contact the event organizer for a copy of the letter of recognition.

If your Trade Show has a letter of recognition, 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
  • A list of goods brought into Canada, their origin and intended use
  • A list of controlled goods being imported
  • A list of 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

What if the trade show you are attending does not have a letter of recognition? If your trade show does not have a letter of recognition, it means you have no designated exemptions.

(7) Time Limits

Some temporary imports and sample imports must be exported within a certain time frame. Take note of the entry date to make sure you do not go past expiry.


Trade Show Importing into the U.S.

Is Your Import Duty Free?

Your import will be duty free if it is recognized in a letter of recognition, if it is imported under a Temporary Import Bond (TIB), or if it is eligible to be imported under a Free Trade Agreement.

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 anything that is consumable. Any goods where the duty is above $100.00 USD you would best be suited to import under a Temporary Import Bond. Keep in mind Temporary Import Bond items must be exported within 6-12 months depending on the commodity.

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 Imports U.S.




Trade Show Importing into Canada

Is Your Import Duty Free? Tax Free?

Your import will be duty free if it is recognized in a letter of recognition, if it is imported under a Temporary Import Bond, or if it is eligible to be imported under a Free Trade Agreement. To be tax free your import must either be imported on a Temporary Import Bond or waived by a letter of recognition.

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”.

Trade Show Imports Canada




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.

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Cross-Border Expo June 2014

Trade Show, Seminars, Business-to-Business Networking Social

The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce and Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa present the Second Annual Cross-Border Expo, June 12th in Ferndale, Washington. This event will showcase over 60 exhibitors and feature three educational sessions aimed at Doing Business in the USA, Doing Business in Canada, and Cross-Border (USA) Real Estate Investment.

It will be FREE of charge for attendees, although (free) pre-registration is recommended for the seminars, as seating will be limited. Priority seating will be given to those who pre-register.

Pacific Customs Brokers is proud to participate as a sponsor, exhibitor and speaker at each of the Doing Business in Canada and Doing Business in the USA sessions.

The Cross-Border Expo will be an exciting opportunity for exhibitors to meet and network with several hundred affluent BC and Whatcom County visitors. The goal is to attract both tourism and business visitors for a one to five-day visit.

Register Now

Seminar Overview

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

  • Seminar Registration (seminars are concurrent)

1:30 pm – 4:15 pm

  • Session One: Doing Business in the USA
  • Session Two: Doing Business in Canada
  • Session Three: Cross-Border (USA) Real Estate Investment

2:00 pm

  • Trade Show Exhibit Floor Opens

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

  • Multi-Chamber Business-After-Business Networking/Social

7:00 pm

  • Trade Show Exhibit Floor Closes

To view the full schedule, visit: Seminar/Tradeshow/Networking Schedule

Register Now


  • Pacific Customs Brokers
  • Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa
  • International Market Access, Inc.
  • Print & Copy Factory
  • Wells Fargo
  • Port of Bellingham
  • Cascadia Cross-Border Law
  • VSH CPAs
  • US Bank
  • Charter College
  • White Rock Courier Ltd.
  • The Northern Light
  • KNV Chartered Accountants LLP

Event Location

Event Center at Silver Reef
4876 Haxton Way
Ferndale, WA 98248

Contact Information

Ferndale Chamber of Commerce
5683 2nd Ave, Ferndale, WA 98248
Email:   [email protected]
Phone: 360.384.3042

Expo Specials

Register Now


Exhibiting in a U.S. Trade Show: Consider a Temporary Import Bond

Trade Show ExhibitWhat is a Temporary Importation Under Bond (TIB)?

A Temporary Import Bond (TIB) is a special entry type that is used when products are imported  into the United States without the payment of duty or Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF), by posting a bond to ensure that the goods will be exported within a specified time. The TIB bond amount is usually twice the estimated duty, taxes, etc.

Types of shipments imported temporarily:

  • Trade shows
  • Conventions
  • Training
  • Assembly
  • Processing
  • Re-export after resale
  • Repair or replacement of damaged goods


Temporary Bond Exportation Requirements:

Products imported under a TIB can remain in the United States without the payment of duty for up to a year. These goods must be properly exported out of the country prior to the expiration date of the bond to avoid a penalty. The one year period for export can be extended upon approval from U.S.  Customs. Some TIB provisions allow for the bond period to be extended for three years with the exception of the following TIB provisions:

  1. Shipments covered under 9813.00.75 (autos and parts for show purposes), may not exceed six months and an extension will not be granted.
  2. Shipments covered under 9813.00.50 (tools of trade), if seized by Customs for reasons other than by suit of private persons, have the requirement of exportation suspended during the period of seizure.

In order to avoid liquidated damages, the importer of record must present proof of export to U.S. Customs.  U.S. Customs accepts the following as proof of export.

  1. Customs Form 3495 Application for Exportation of Articles Under Special Bond
  2. Certified copy of the entry that the goods are being imported to (Canadian B3)
  3. Certified copy of the bill of lading


Relief from liability may also be obtained when goods imported under a TIB are destroyed under Customs supervision.  The article must have no commercial value whatsoever if it is to be considered destroyed.


Goods Eligible for TIB Entry:

The only goods that qualify for TIB entry are those listed in subheadings 9813.00.05 through 9813.00.75 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and can be found here.


Common Mistakes Entering TIB:

The most common mistakes made when entering goods under a Temporary Import Bond include:

  • Failing to indicate on the shipping documentation or notifying your customs broker that the shipment you are sending is a temporary import.
  • Failing to properly document and re-export or destroy the articles. When this happens, the bond or security deposit is forfeited and the importer bears the duty and tax expense.


Pacific Customs Brokers can file a TIB and obtain a bond on your behalf. We can also assist in the export and closure of your TIB with U.S. Customs. Contact us for more information or to get set up.

What has your experience been with temporary imports? Do you have questions about Temporary Import Bonds? Share them in our comments section or email us at Ask Your Broker.


Additional Reading:


Trade Show Logistics, Not As Easy As 1-2-3

Tradeshow BoothLast month I ran into an old friend from high school who I had lost track of through the years. While catching up during lunch he mentioned that his wife’s online business was taking off domestically and they were now ready to explore the US market, specifically a trade show. With over 300 million friendly consumers just across the border, the possibilities seemed endless and they were both very excited.

That is until they arrived at the border with samples for a trade show in Seattle that they had just registered and paid for in full. After spending all day at customs trying to meet the import requirements, they ended up being refused entry and returned to Canada, down and a little  lighter in the wallet. “Wow” I said, “if only we had met a couple of weeks earlier. I would have helped you get across the border! I’m in logistics!”

After sheepishly admitting little research was done, he and his wife had decided to forgo hiring an expert and do it themselves to save a few dollars, he agreed with me wholeheartedly. The couple hundred dollars they would have saved compared nothing to the eight hours at the border and forfeited trade show fees paid in advance.

So Why Hire an Expert?

When attempting a new endeavor for the first time, what you do not know will usually sink you. Think of it as the unexpected in the form of a Border Guard asking you questions you have no idea how to answer.

Mark Twain once said “Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.” Obviously Mr. Twain never dealt with Border Guards.

When transiting the border with commercial goods you usually have only one chance to get it right.

Did You Know:

  • Those t-shirts with your companies logo’s you intend to give away are dutiable and customs requires you to declare the actual manufacturer where the t-shirts were made?
  • The pens emblazoned with your companies logo, also intended as a giveaway, are subject to the Toxic Substance Control Act?
  • The samples you are bringing for order taking require a temporary import bond and have to be exported properly in order to avoid a penalty?

The list of what you do not know goes on and on. Rather than trying to interpret encyclopedic volumes of customs regulations, hire an expert and spend your time building your business at the trade show.

That is a much better way to spend your time. Remember, a little planning goes a long way.