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Import duty & taxes when importing into Canada

Overview

Import duty and taxes are due when importing goods into Canada whether by a private individual or a commercial entity.  The duty valuation method is FOB (Free on Board), which means that the import duty is calculated exclusively on the value of the imported goods.  In addition to duty, imports may be subject to other taxes such as GST (General Sales Tax), PST (Provincial Sales Tax), or a combination of both known as HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) depending on the type of importer and province.  Sales tax is calculated based on the sum of the value of the goods, the duty, and the excise duty (if applicable).  The amount of duty and taxes due depends on the place of residence of the importer rather than on the location where the goods enter Canada.

Duty Rates

Duty rates in Canada range between 0% and 35%, where the average duty rate is 8.56%.  Some goods are not subject to duty (e.g. certain electronic products, antiques, toys, etc.).  

Preferential duty rates

Canada has signed free trade agreements with a number of countries.  To be entitled to preferential tariff treatment, a good must meet the "originating" criteria as set out on the Rules of Origin of individual FTAs.  A certificate of origin is required upon importation, when the value of an import is greater than CA$1600, for preferential duty rates to apply. 

NB: 

  • If the benefit of preferential tariff treatment under NAFTA, CCFTA, CCRFTA, CPFTA or CCOFTA is claimed for casual goods (i.e. goods other than commercial goods), the importer and owner of the goods are exempt from the Certificate of Origin requirements, provided that certain conditions are met. 
  • If the benefit of preferential tariff treatment under NAFTA, CCFTA, CCRFTA, CPFTA or CCOFTA is claimed for commercial goods whose estimated value for duty is less than $1,600, the importer and owner of the goods are exempt from the Certificate of Origin requirements, provided that certain conditions are met.

Sales Tax

Commercial importers are only subject to GST.  Private importers are subject to HST (i.e. GST + PST).  Sales tax rates vary by province.  The table below outlines sales tax estimates in the different provinces:

Province

Code

Sales
tax type

Provincial
rate

Combined effective rate

Alberta

AB

GST

0%

5%

British Columbia

BC

GST + PST

7%

12%

Manitoba

MB

GST + PST

8%

13%

New Brunswick

NB

HST

8%

13%

Newfoundland and Labrador

NL

HST

8%

13%

Northwest Territories

NT

GST

0%

5%

Nova Scotia

NS

HST

10%

15%

Nunavut

NU

GST

0%

5%

Ontario

ON

HST

8%

13%

Prince Edward Island

PE

GST + PST

9%

14%

Quebec

QC

GST + QST

9.975%

14.975%

Saskatchewan

SK

GST + PST

5%

10%

Yukon

YT

GST

0%

5%

 

Minimum thresholds

Duty and GST/PST/HST are not charged if the FOB value, i.e. the value of the goods excluding shipping and insurance cost, does not exceed CA$20.00.  

Other taxes and custom fees

Excise fee is applicable on alcohol and tobacco products.  It is based on FOB but also on quantity measurements and alcohol content in case of alcohol products.

Duty and tax refunds
 
In case of overpayment of duty and taxes or returns of imported products to the seller, the importer might be entitled to a duty and tax refund.  The relevant information and requirements can be found here.


Local Customs office and contacts

More information on import declaration procedures and import restrictions can be found at Canada Border Agency Services.

Related topics: NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) , Canada Bilateral Free Trade Agreements