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Successful Customs Process For Importing To Canada As Non-Resident Importer

Today’s borders are stricter than ever. Of course, as a double edged sword, while these regulations and tighter compliance margins can be problematic, they are also wholly necessary. As things continue to change, so too does the nature of importing goods and services into Canada — thanks to the internet, for example, foreign companies can now sell their goods to Canadian consumers without actually setting up residence in Canada.

In order to have a trouble free experience as an importer — particularly if you are not a Canadian resident — there are some important points to remember to remain compliant and guarantee a smooth process.

What is a Non Resident Importer?

A non-resident importer (NRI) is someone who, as the name suggests, resides outside of Canada who exports goods and services to Canada, acting as the importer of those goods into the country. They are the ‘Importer of Record’ — responsible for clearing customs and other border-related issues. NRIs are responsible for paying the appropriate fees, and providing all relevant documentation in compliance with governmental regulations.

Why become an NRI?

The Canadian market is a lucrative and highly receptive marketplace. This is especially so for those in the states — Canada is the largest export market to the United States, with it being the no.1 export to 35/50 states. In order to successfully compete with resident companies in Canada, NRIs must make the consumer experience as easy and as attractive as that of domestic sellers.

Becoming an NRI brings with it certain advantages:

  • Simplified pricing – Customer in Canada will not be subjected to any surprise pricing at the end of their purchase. The goods are delivered duty paid (DDP) at an agreed upon price — the price they see on the web page is the price they pay. For a foreign seller, this means they have greater visibility over their overall costs.
  • Not being physically present in Canada - Many Non-Resident Importers are attracted by the prospect of not actually having to have a physical presence in Canada, yet still have access to the marketspace.
  • Shipment tracking - The importer is directly responsible for not only the shipping of goods, but the tracking as well. A vendor in the US, for example, acting as both the exporter and NRI, controls the entire process from door-to-door, reducing delays at customs and subsequently delivering quick, reliable service to their customers.

What responsibilities does an NRI carry?

Any NRI must comply with Canada’s Customers Act and any other applicable regulations enforced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as well as any other regulatory bodies which are appropriate — like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), for example, when considering food and beverage products.

Some other industries that are subject to Other Government Departments (OGD), include:

  • Motor Vehicles and tires
  • Drugs, medical devices, hazardous products
  • Animals, plants, certain wood products

What is the general process for importing goods?

For Non-Resident Importers, the NRI program provides a pipeline of processes that must be completed in order to start importing goods into Canada.  Failure to adhere to any of the following will automatically jeopardize your chances of importing, or eliminate them completely.

  • The importer, whether a resident or not, is tasked with reporting and accounting for its goods to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
  • The importer must describe the nature of the goods, their value and quantity. A 10 digit classification must also be assigned to each product for duty and tax purposes.
  • The importer will determine the applicable tariff treatment for the goods based on the country of origin and the country of shipment to Canada. The importer must then pay the applicable custom taxes and duties.
  • All regulatory requirements, statues and regulations must be shown to be satisfied and that the goods are not prohibited from entering Canada.
  • Import permits must be obtained from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in relation to goods which are on the Import Control List and subject to tariff rates.
  • Importers must keep books and records in Canada.  Access to the aforementioned must be provided during a CBSA or other government agency audit.

While importing as a Non-Resident Importer can bring with it numerous benefits to be gleaned by those acting as importers, in order to navigate the stringent and often changing regulations of the customs border, those wishing to enter the Canadian marketspace as an NRI must be diligent in their research and compliance.

Interested in becoming an NRI with Clearit? Find out more about our NRI program here!