When you send something through the mail, you may not consider it importing or exporting. If the parcel you’ve sent crosses international borders, however, it is governed by import and export regulations.
What’s the difference between mailing something and importing/exporting it? Are there requirements you must meet and duties to pay for importing or exporting that don’t exist for postal shipments? And when does a parcel or shipment truly shift from postal to import/export?
Switching from Postal to Import/Export
When does a service switch from postal to customs or import/export? The short answer is it doesn’t. You can import and export items through the postal service just as you would with any international carrier. If you intend to send something abroad, the shipment will be liable to import and export regulations the entire length of its journey. There’s also no monetary value that causes something to “switch” from postal to import/export. Everything that’s imported into Canada is liable for duty tax.
The Difference Between the Post and Customs
There is a difference between “mailing” something and “shipping” something We typically associate mailing with the Canada Post and shipping with other carriers like UPS. You can send a package through the mail, outside Canada’s borders, but you’re not “mailing” the package. Mail, in this sense, only refers to standard-sized letters. If you’re sending a package – through Canada Post or UPS – you’re shipping it.
Why does that matter for importing and exporting?
Although Canada Post is most commonly associated with mailing letters, you can ship parcels through Canada Post. And when you do, your shipment is subject to customs regulations at the border. The rules of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are the same for Canada Post as they are for any other carrier.
According to the Customs Act, any carrier will require you to declare certain information about your parcel. The same goes for packages you receive from abroad. Whoever sent it to you also had to fill out information regarding their package before they could send it. In most cases, you’ll also have to make a value declaration so the proper taxes and duties can be levied.
Declaring the value of the items you’re shipping will let the Canadian authorities know how much you should pay in taxes. Any item mailed to Canada may be subject to the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The GST is 5 percent, levied on any item sent to Canada by mail. Businesses that import into Canada via courier must also declare the value. Couriers consider value declaration as the value of each unit in the shipment. This number is also how much you can recover from shipping liability insurance if the shipment is lost or damaged.
No matter if you’re receiving a single parcel from abroad or an entire shipment for your business, you’ll have to pay taxes on it. And it makes no difference if you’re using the postal service or a courier – both are required by Canada’s Customs Act to collect the tax from you.
When to Use Canada Post
Technically, you can use Canada Post for sending any letters, packages, or shipments abroad. It has enterprise services for large businesses, too. Canada Post has an established infrastructure and resources throughout Canada, so domestic shipping is fairly reliable. When it comes to shipping abroad, however, the postal service’s reliability is based on the courier services it uses. Also, keep in mind that items imported with Canada Post carry an additional handling fee unless they’re duty-free or tax-exempt.
When to Use a Courier
Courier services like UPS and FedEx don’t have the same infrastructure as Canada Post within the country, but they have more resources worldwide. Domestically, Canada Post tends to have lower prices than UPS or FedEx. But when it comes to international shipping, the prices are generally flat and transparent.
There is no real distinction between “postal” and “import/export”, only that postal services cover domestic mail and shipping and import/export by definition does not. Canada Post handles mail and most domestic shipments better than couriers. Most people don’t use couriers like UPS and FedEx to deliver standard mail, either.
If you need help determining which type of service is best for your business, Border Buddy can help. Our job is to know the difference between mailing, shipping, importing/exporting, and the best ways to move your goods into and outside of Canada. If you’re overwhelmed by all the shipping services available, don’t worry. We’ll know your best option after we learn about you and your business needs. Call us today so we can start discussing import and export solutions for your business.