Importing Tips For Your Home Remodelling |'s Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates

Importing Tips For Your Home Remodelling

There aren’t many passion projects more fun or satisfying than putting entirely new spins on the various rooms in your home. But whether you’re a professional interior designer or just someone with a keen eye for design, a worthwhile remodelling requires more than just a fresh coat of paint.

Anyone who regularly scours Pinterest for inspiration or spends their weekends perusing furniture and knick-knack stores will surely consider replacing everything from seating and bedding to armoires, tables and accent pieces.

For those of us whose vision isn’t limited to whichever stores are in the neighbourhood, though, this can often mean importing items from outside of Canada that catch your eye. Likewise, the craftier among us may even look to build their own signature pieces, which could result in the need for raw materials to pass through customs.

Whichever way you decide to remodel your home, here’s our quick guide to successfully obtaining the items you’ll need to rejuvenate your space.

Importing new and used furniture

As is the case with any items purchased from foreign retailers, yours will be subject to applicable duties and taxes, depending on the country of origin and the province in which you live.

In the case of new furniture, specifically, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has a detailed breakdown on its website of tariff percentages corresponding to individual types, but one should expect to pay anywhere from nothing extra to 9.5% on top of the original cost.

Depending on your budget, purchasing home furnishings from the United States and Mexico will generally result in smaller duties as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), so factor in the location of export unless you’re willing to pay a little extra. And, of course, don’t forget to include GST, PST or HST, depending on where you reside in Canada.

Importing used items, however, isn’t so cut-and-dry.

First, in order to determine the value of any applicable duties, several circumstances have to be taken into account, including whether or not the item has been altered, if the selling price of the item reflects its actual value (e.g. buying from an antique store versus a relative “selling” you an antique for practically nothing), and other factors.

Used goods must meet the requirements of Section 48 of the Customs Act to determine if they can undergo appraisal using the typical Transaction Value Method. However, they can also fall under one of two categories that would require an alternate appraisal method:

  1. The item has been reconditioned, refurbished, modernized or otherwise improved prior to importation; or
  2. The item was subject to use prior to importation.

If that’s the case, alternate appraisal methods are carried out, which factor in condition, circumstances of sale, depreciation and obsolescence.

Certain used goods also require special care to be undertaken prior to being sold, so it’s a good idea to consult expert advice on what regulations your specific imports will need to meet.

Wood packaging and importation

One other potential snag that importers might encounter involves a specific type of material that comes with a myriad of regulations and can be held up at customs if noncompliant: wood.

Because wood has the potential to smuggle harmful species of pests into Canada and upsetting our country’s diverse ecosystem, the CBSA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have set out regulations on both wooden packaging materials (crates, pallets, dunnage, etc.) and the raw material itself, in accordance with International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 15.

Depending on whether you’re importing from the continental United States or elsewhere in the world, here’s a rough guide to ensure, specifically, any wood packaging is customs compliant:


  • Continental U.S.: Under CFIA Policy Directive D-98-08, any packaging made from unprocessed wood, or a combination with a processed wood, must meet the minimum treatment requirements laid out in ISPM 15 and be marked accordingly. Any packaging made from 100% fully processed wood (e.g. plywood, fibre board, etc.) is exempt.


  • Rest of the world: From any other location, all wood packaging material must be heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide, debarked (prior to fumigation, if applicable), treated and marked by authority of the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), and bear an ISPM 15.

In relation to raw materials, similar requirements regarding treatment and conditions of various forms of wood are outlined in CFIA Policy Directives D-02-12 and D-95-14. Among the non-processed wood and other wood products listed are:

  • Non-tropical and tropical lumber
  • Wood and bark chips
  • All bamboo products
  • Decorative wood items
  • Wood with bark attached
  • Logs

Whichever scenario applies to your imported goods, the most important document you can have in order to guarantee compliance and a smooth trip across the border is either a Phytosanitary Certificate for Re-export from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a Phytosanitary Certificate from the exporting country, provided by the NPPO. Some wood materials also require a plant protection import permit from the CFIA, so ensure that you have one as well, if necessary.
Do you have the necessary certificates for your used goods and raw materials? Have you calculated the correct fees on your new furniture to fit it within your renovation budget? Contact us today and we’ll help you bring in the items that will redefine your home!