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Old 09-14-2016, 01:00 PM   #1
muttskie's Avatar
City: San Francisco Bay
Country: USA
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Online Vendors, Canadian Purchases


I wasn't sure where to post this, but here goes.

As I have mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I am in the process of buying a trawler in Seattle and will be taking it to Sydney, B.C., where it will be berthed for at least a year, possibly longer.

I am considering buying some items (electronics mostly) from Hodges Marine, and others, and having them shipped to Sydney

Are there any issues with buying from U.S. based vendors regarding Canadian delivery addresses? I am a U.S. citizen, by the way.

Are there Canadian vendors that are price competitive with U.S. vendors?

What do Canadian owners do?

What do other U.S. citizens who keep their boats in Canada do?

Would it be smarter to have things shipped to my home in California, and then make a drive to the boat with a car full of stuff?

I am somewhat experienced in marine mechanical, electrical and electronic stuff and like to do work on boats. So, I wonder about the availability of competitively priced components and supplies for a, new to me, boat that will be based in B.C.

I intend to travel from the San Francisco Bay area to the boat regularly and spend a couple of weeks at a time there, doing some upgrades, etc. while also exploring of the surrounding area, eventually going north through the Inland Passage.

Sorry for the multiple questions. All comments appreciated.


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Old 09-14-2016, 01:56 PM   #2
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I would contact the vendors regarding their policies for shipping outside the US. At a minimum, I assume you will have to pay customs import duties.

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Old 09-14-2016, 09:14 PM   #3
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Depends on where items were made, NAFTA items should cross tax free. Others you may be charged for, if shipped you may also get a fee for a, customs clearing agent. I have had Espar items shipped from Canada, sometime no fees other times I got charged, who knows. I would load it all on the boat, and see what happens. Some items might be just as cheap to buy locally in Canada. Was surprised last spring when the same US bottom paint was cheaper in Canada then in Bellingham. At the present money rates you will gain 30 cents on every dollar and then give back 15 cents on local BC tax, on thing bought in Canada.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:18 PM   #4
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I'm in the marine business and do a lot of importing from the U.S. If you are using UPS or Fedex, you are going to wind up paying exorbitant customs clearing charges, and if the items are not covered under NAFTA, duty will also apply. Best way if possible is to ship USPS. Your package is transfered to Canada post at the border. Clearing charges, $9.95. Sometimes they even miss applicable duty. But, before you order, check out some Canadian retailers. After currency exchange, you may do better here.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:20 PM   #5
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When buying goods manufactured in North America there is no duty when crosding the border. Either by shipper or in your own vehicle. NAFTA applies to both situations.

Of course finding North American manufactured goods, especially electronics, is not easy.

Shipping to Canada and within Canada tends to be expensive and is often painfully slow.

Maybe buying in Canada is the way to go? The exchange rate is very favorable now.
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:24 PM   #6
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Your biggest problems in shipping to Canada from US vendors are 1. "international" shipping rates apply even if the shipper only has to cross the street from the US to Canada. 2. UPS and Fedx "customs brokerage fees". (Not charged by USPS). 3. Looooong waits for goods to clear customs and finally arrive on your doorstep.

That's the long answer to your question: you want to everything you buy shipped to a US address. Nothing shady or underhanded about it...you still have to declare it when you bring it across. You just save a fortune in shipping charges and get your goods a LOT sooner.
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Old 09-15-2016, 06:17 AM   #7
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Customs are generally not collected if the item/items are less than 800.00
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Old 09-15-2016, 06:34 AM   #8
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As a Canadian I buy virtually everything of any substantial cost in the US (about 30k in the last two years) and have it shipped to a buddy just across the border then drive over for lunch and pick it up. It is extremely rare to find anything cheaper in Canada and border customs brokerage fees are ridiculous. Buy it in the US and take it with you. There are duty exemptions for personal property and you may (likely) be able to convince customs that the items are personal property for a US boat (have your vessel documentation with you).

If you must ship anything I agree with the others that have said use USPS.
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Old 09-15-2016, 07:43 AM   #9
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Faced with a similar problem when I was in the Bahamas I rented a box at a local UPS Store in Florida and had 20 some packages shipped there. Then went back to the US picked up the packages and returned to the Bahamas.

There are UPS stores in Friday Harbor and Blaine so you could take the boat and once on the boat the items should avoid the customs problems.
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Old 09-15-2016, 10:47 AM   #10
City: Toronto ON
Country: Canada
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There are services available in some border towns on the US side, offering receiver/shipper and storage services for personal and business use.

Those on the north side can benefit from "free shipping to the 48",
avoid the #@^#@! broker fees, (UPS sucks!)
and if coupled with a 48 hr visit south of the border,
$800 duty free per person coming back north.
Or just jump across, declare it, and pay the man...

No affiliation, I am experimenting with CBI in Niagara Falls NY, no storage fees beyond the $5.95 package fee, accumulate your deliveries, collect them at your leisure.

The Canadian market is hamstrung by low volume vs the US market. That leads to smaller selection, fewer vendors, and higher prices.

The US dollar exchange advantage may just level that on some items?

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Old 09-15-2016, 11:01 AM   #11
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I'm a Canadian and I have started sending purchases to a mail service in Point Roberts (Point to Point Parcel). I went across to PR in May for $400 in bits and bots and Canada Customs just waved me through, but you can't count on that. You could be hit with up to 12% in PST and GST in BC, and 9.5% duty for non-NAFTA purchases (I.e. China). Most important issue is to be completely upfront with Customs officials at the border. My suggestion to you is to buy all the expensive electronics you need and put it on the boat prior to bringing it into Canada. You can then avoid all duties and taxes.

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Old 09-15-2016, 07:20 PM   #12
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I'm Canadian as well and I can agree with a lot of comments already made:
1) Best is to put the stuff on the boat before you bring it up to Canada
2) If you have to ship things up, use USPS. There may be a small service charge and the approx. 12% or 13% local taxes, depending on the province. I've never paid any duty. Sometimes there are no charges at all - it seems to be hit and miss.
3) Don't use UPS or Fed-Ex, you'll be paying more for brokerage fees etc. than some of your goods are worth.
4) For the most part buy your goods in the USA because even with today's high exchange rate for us up here, I find I can still get better pricing in your country. We're getting royally screwed here.

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