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The truth about bringing guitars in from the U.S.

8784 Views 46 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  elindso
This question was raised that we as Canadians do not have to pay duty on U.S. goods because of the Free Trade Agreement know the facts before you have anything shipped in from the U.S.
Fact Sheet
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May 2006

Visiting friends or relatives outside Canada? Proper planning can help ensure you have a worry-free cross-border trip. Whether you've been gone for only a few hours, or for several days, returning to Canada means a stop at a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Bring Identification
Make sure you carry the proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you, including any documents the country you intend to visit requires, such as passports, birth certificates, and visas. Proper identification includes birth certificates, baptismal certificates, passports, citizenship cards, records of landing, permanent resident cards and certificates of Indian status. These will help prove your citizenship and residency when you return to Canada.

Travelling with Children
Our officers watch for missing children and may ask detailed questions about the children who are travelling with you. If you have legal custody of the child(ren) or if you share custody, have copies of relevant legal documents, such as custody rights. If you are not the custodial parent or not the parent or legal guardian of the child(ren), carry a letter of permission or authorization for you to have custody when entering Canada. A letter would also facilitate entry for any one parent travelling with their child(ren). This permission should contain contact telephone numbers for the parent or legal guardian. If you are travelling as part of a group of vehicles, be sure that you are in the same vehicle as your child(ren) when you arrive at the border.

Check Border Wait Times
Check our border wait times () for the latest waiting time of the border crossing along your route. Border wait times are updated every hour.

What can I bring back with me?
When you return to Canada, you may qualify for a personal exemption. Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying the regular duties. If you have been outside Canada for:

24 hours or more, you can bring in CAN$50 worth of goods free of duty and tax;
48 hours or more, you can bring in CAN$200 worth of goods free of duty and tax;
7 days or more, you can bring in CAN$750 worth of goods free of duty and tax.
Alcohol and Tobacco - Restrictions apply to the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into Canada under your exemption. If you have been outside Canada for at least 48 hours and are of legal age, you can bring in these amounts of alcohol and tobacco products free of duty and tax as part of your personal exemption:

Alcoholic beverages:

1.14 L (40 oz.) of liquor; or
1.5 L of wine; or
24 X 355 ml (12 oz.) containers of beer.
Tobacco products (all of the following):

200 cigarettes;
50 cigars or cigarillos;
200 tobacco sticks; and
200 g (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco.
If you bring in more than the free allowance of alcohol or tobacco, you will be required to pay the applicable duties and taxes.

As of October 1, 2001, if you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks, or loose tobacco in your personal exemption allowance, only a partial exemption will apply. You will have to pay a minimum duty on these products unless they are marked "CANADA - DUTY PAID - DROIT ACQUITTÉ." You will find Canadian-made products sold at a duty-free shop marked this way. You can speed up your clearance by having your tobacco products available for inspection when you arrive.

What if I want to bring back more alcohol and tobacco?
Except for restricted items, you can bring back any amount of goods as long as you are willing to pay the duties and any provincial and territorial assessments that may apply.

Restricted items / Prohibited Items
Handguns and weapons like mace and pepper spray are prohibited from entering Canada. Also, some fruits, vegetables, meats and plants from other countries cannot be brought into Canada. Review our travellers’ frequently asked questions for more information.

What if I'm away for only a few hours?
If you don't qualify for a personal exemption, you can still bring back any amount of goods - except for restricted items - as long as you are willing to pay the duties and any provincial and territorial assessments that may apply.

Keep all your receipts handy
CBSA officers may ask you to show receipts for the goods you've purchased while out of the country. They may also ask to see your hotel receipts to verify the length of your stay outside Canada. Keeping these items all together and readily accessible will help to avoid unnecessary delays.

Make a full declaration
If you are not sure what to declare when you arrive in Canada, declare all items first and then discuss them with the officer.
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41 - 47 of 47 Posts
I have to agree with ofender. The other HUGE factor is used prices in the States. Especially when you are talking about US made guitars that you can import under NAFTA. Because the gear is cheaper in the first place, and there is WAY more of it around the used gear prices are so much less in the States that it's not even comparible. I recently ordered an Fender American Series Ash Tele in sunburst from from a seller in the States I buy a fair amount of gear from for $700. That guitar is $1045 (on sale at Musicians Friend marked down from $1400) new in the States, and I don't even know what it costs here new. The ONLY way for me to ever own a guitar like that is to find a deal like that.

I assume it's not the local retailers fault, but the Canadian prices just do not make sense when you compare them to US prices in a lot of cases. There seems to be a major markup beyond the duty and taxes. And the prices on used gear can be insane. I am assuming it's mainly because the stuff is hard to find so they can get away with charging more.

One other point Ofender, you are likely over-estimating the shipping. UPS shipping on guitars is actually fairly cheap, and you know stores like Long and Mcquade and Steve's would be getting business rates due to the amount they import. I'd venture to say the shipping is actually half of what you are estimating.
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Just an update. My German guitar came in and FedEx charged me $156.00. So even with shipping, exchange, duty and taxes, I still saved almost $1000.00 by buying it in the States. Well worth it! NOte: I should point out that the place where I bought it considered the guitar used. I've yet to find even a scratch on this instrument.
One guitar I bought from the States was a 2003, but it still had all the plastic on it and looked like it had never been played. It was still priced as used and priced to sell though.
Think I can add something to this . . . in my previous business we imported lots of equipment etc. from the US, including theatre seats made in Germany. Under NAFTA, if import duties have already been paid in the US, a Canadian importer does not have to pay duties again. However, you have to research and complete the right paperwork (really the shipper has to provide the paperwork from their end - lots of resistance there, and I doubt a seller not dealing with an ongoing business partner would want to know).

Not sure if this applies to personal use importation, but I don't see why the rules would be different.

Some of the price difference might have to do with the Canadian retailer buying back when the CDN $ was at .60.

The currency fluctuations have made things in the states much cheaper.

A guy I know bought a German SUV in the states brought it into Canada, paid all the duties taxes and saved 20 grand yes 20,000 over the Canadian price.

Now is a good time for us to buy down there.

I feel bad about not buying locally, but I don't have funds to the point that I can not care about saving hundreds of $. There is only so much to spend. I'll try and keep as much as I can for whatever else I need.
Canadian dealers who are on top of things will be noting the change in currency from 12 - 15 months ago to now, and will be talking to distribution companies who import and distribute US-made guitars, etc., to ensure those importers and manufacturers are responding to the stronger cdn dollar.

Those distributors should have adjusted the dealer costs well before now, to reflect the stronger dollar. Those who haven't are simply pocketing the difference as additional profits. Anyone can talk to their favorite dealer, and ask them which distributors have made appropriate cost adjustments, and I'm sure the dealers, for the most part, will be happy to discuss it.

US product that the dealer can purchase directly, or through a local rep/agency arrangement, without a stocking distributor in the middle, will have the cost advantage direct at source, as they're not reliant on a distributor to make the adjustment to the dealer cost.

Anyone noticed suggeested retail changes to, for example, Gibson (imported by Yorkville), or Vox / Digitech / Washburn etc. (imported by Erikson), etc. etc.?

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Point well taken. It would be the high end stuff on the rck that would have the high price, due to the strong Canadian dollar.

If the price is really out of line we will all buy where we can better afford it.

It really is that simple.

Isn't it?
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