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09-22-2008, 01:39 PM   #1
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Customs duty - into US from Canada

I tried the US Customs website - too complicated for me.

Is there a simple rule, like one camera, under $1,000, no duty.

I've been ignoring offers from Canada because I don't know what duty I'll get stuck with. I did see one dealer ad that said "no duty" so there must a "window" there somewhere.

Would appreciate any help.

Jack Long

09-22-2008, 01:43 PM   #2
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I'm no expert but I've heard that under NAFTA, photographic equipment is duty free, all you'd have to pay is any applicable taxes.

Recently I imported a DA*16-55 f2.8 and a K20D Body and neither garnered any duties, mind you that was from the US to Canada, so I don't know how it would work the other way around and whether there are actually any taxes that would be paid.

Maybe a phone call to your Customs office would give you a better idea.
09-22-2008, 02:02 PM   #3
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Well, here are a few basic rules:
  • Imported goods must be declared
  • Duty is ultimately the responsibility of the importer (that would be you).

Having said that, here are a few pertinent details (from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site):
  • Goods valued at over $200 are generally subject to duty.
  • Goods may enter the U.S. by mail for direct shipment to you if under $2000 value. Goods shipped by mail over $2000 value will be held by customs until you arrange formal entry. I am not sure, but I believe that duty for goods under $2000 may be assessed as part of the postage with the Canadian postal system serving as the customs broker.
  • Gifts enter duty free up to $100 value.

Steve

(P.S. Don't call me from jail if this proves to be incorrect! )

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-22-2008 at 02:47 PM.
09-22-2008, 02:05 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Leaf Fan Quote
I'm no expert but I've heard that under NAFTA, photographic equipment is duty free, all you'd have to pay is any applicable taxes.
Most Pentax equipment would not qualify for an exemption under NAFTA. Goods must be manufactured in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico or have significant content from the member countries to qualify.

Steve

09-22-2008, 06:10 PM   #5
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I am a U.S. citizen and when I go from Mexico to the U.S., all my camera gear goes with me and no one has ever asked me anything about it. It's not still in the boxes with receipts attached, of course.
09-22-2008, 08:04 PM   #6
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I can confirm that, under NAFTA, photographic equipment is duty fre. It's not tax-free, however. But if it's shipped by regular mail, chances are that you won't have to pay taxes. In Canada, you OUGHT to call the tax recovery agencies and tell them that you want to pay your taxes, but I have yet to meet someone who does that

If your things are shipped by Fedex or worse UPS you will pay brokerage fees (that can cost more than the value of the item) and all taxes.
09-22-2008, 09:38 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
I can confirm that, under NAFTA, photographic equipment is duty fre. It's not tax-free, however. But if it's shipped by regular mail, chances are that you won't have to pay taxes. In Canada, you OUGHT to call the tax recovery agencies and tell them that you want to pay your taxes, but I have yet to meet someone who does that

If your things are shipped by Fedex or worse UPS you will pay brokerage fees (that can cost more than the value of the item) and all taxes.
I will have to do some research regarding photo equipment and NAFTA. My statement above regarding NAFTA eligibility is the general case. I have a copy of the regulations and treaty as well as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule on my desk at the office. The laws are complex and there are exemptions and modifications for many classes of goods. It may well be that photographic equipment may pass without duty between the U.S. and Canada.

To the OP...if you really want to import an item from Canada and its value is over $200, I would suggest that you call U.S. Custom and Border Protection. They should be able to provide some guidance. I would also follow the advice of other posters and avoid FedEx, UPS and other trans-border shippers. Have the item shipped by regular post if at all possible. You will save a ton of money by avoiding brokerage fees.

Items shipped by regular post are shipped with special customs documentation provided by the exporter (the so-called customs envelope). That paperwork includes a description of contents and a statement of value and allows for expedited movement of the package across the border.

Steve

(Have to know more about international trade than I really care to...)
09-22-2008, 10:47 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Most Pentax equipment would not qualify for an exemption under NAFTA. Goods must be manufactured in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico or have significant content from the member countries to qualify.

Steve
I believe that your sorta right Steve, but also sorta wrong.
If I remember correctly, if there's a company making cameras in North America then you could be dinged duty.
However I don't recall any common day cameras actually being made on this body of land.
I may be wrong about this though.

09-22-2008, 11:40 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
I believe that your sorta right Steve, but also sorta wrong.
If I remember correctly, if there's a company making cameras in North America then you could be dinged duty.
However I don't recall any common day cameras actually being made on this body of land.
I may be wrong about this though.
You may well be correct. I will just take a look in the U.S. tariff schedule (HTS) tomorrow. It provides a quick and authoritative summary of the tariff rates as well as applicable treaties. The applicable duties (if any) will be listed there.

The main thing about NAFTA is that most of its provisions are related to goods manufactured, produced, or significantly modified in the member countries. The idea is to allow free movement of parts and finished goods between manufacturing entities on both sides of both borders without having to pay duty at every turn. The primary manufacturing industries that pushed for and benefited from NAFTA are automobile and heavy truck manufacturing. As such, most of the regulation details are related to parts for cars and trucks. After that are provisions for textiles, farm goods, and lumber. Stuff that is not manufactured, produced, or significantly modified in a member country is generally liable for the base tariff for that good.

In any case, the tariff schedule will have the information.

Steve

BTW, my interest in this thread is based on personal curiosity since I occasionally buy/sell across international borders. To date, I have never imported any item over $200 USD, but would like to know what the applicable regulations are. I am fortunate since aspects of my work involve customs rules and duty calculation and I have access to documentation.
09-23-2008, 08:31 AM   #10
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Ok, here is the tariff situation for cameras and lenses when importing from Canada to the U.S.

35mm SLR Film Cameras -- Duty free (#9006.51.00)
Digital Cameras -- Duty free (#8525.80.40, #8525.80.50)
Lenses -- Duty free (#9002.11.90)
Steve

Reference:
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2008) - Supplement 1
By Chapter of HTS :2008-07-01 - Supplement 1, Official Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated
09-23-2008, 08:48 AM   #11
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Thanks for taking the time out and looking that up Steve,
09-23-2008, 08:48 AM   #12
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I recently imported a K20D body. I used UPS 2 Day air shipping, no brokerage fees but the initial shipping fee was $40 which I felt was worth the cost as it came very quickly and was recommended by the vendor in the US. UPS paid the GST on my behalf and have invoiced me for that amount (approx $36.00 - I don't have the invoice in front of me), but there were NO DUTIES applicable and this is shown right on the UPS import form as Duty $0.00, GST $36.00. The declared value of the imported item was exactly the purchase price (approx $700).

On a related note, I've shipped several items into the US as a seller (used items) and through Canada Post I fill out a declaration form with the contents of the package and the value. I've never had to pay any duties up front and i have no idea if the purchasor/recipient has. I think it's always the importer's responsibility unless prior arrangements have been made with the seller to cover import duties if applicable.

Suffice it to say that it's pretty easy (in my experience) to ship to and from the US, particularly photographic equipment.
09-24-2008, 01:28 PM   #13
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Thanks to everybody for the help. Short answer - digital cameras and lenses are duty-free - use the postal service. That simplifies life.

Jack
10-03-2008, 04:49 PM   #14
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Im flying from California to Argentina do i have to declare the camera equipment? Of course the camera is not going in there boxes.
10-03-2008, 07:10 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by hotrod Quote
Im flying from California to Argentina do i have to declare the camera equipment? Of course the camera is not going in there boxes.
Not unless you are planning on leaving them there.

Steve
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