Ask Before You Import!
Before you purchase a commodity that you have never imported before, or it has been some time since you've imported, contact your customs broker to confirm the requirements for importation.
There are a number of circumstances, requirements or changes to import requirements that could potentially make the import process uncomfortable if not properly researched.
First, you should confirm that the commodity you would like to import is allowed into Canada. Many commodities, especially those that are biological materials, food, plant or otherwise, require additional import and export permits. Other goods are simply prohibited entry into Canada.
Once it is ascertained that the commodity is allowed entry, the next step is to confirm the document requirements of both the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other government departments. There are many commodities that have no additional requirements for entry from CBSA, but are regulated for clearance from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and others. Many of the documents required for these regulated commodities cannot be obtained while the product is in transit, and must be obtained prior to departure. In most cases, if you do not have the appropriate documentation, the import could be refused entry.
Once the document requirements have been confirmed, the next thing is to confirm the duties and applicable taxes. There are many items which have applicable duty rates, are subject to Special Importer Measures Act actions, as well as any possible excise taxes; all are in place to protect Canadian Industry and give producers a chance to compete with foreign Importers.
True Story: A produce importer purchased blueberries from New Zealand. Upon arrival by air into Canada, they were advised by their customs broker that the blueberries required a phytosanitary certificate. The importer, not knowing of this requirement, had not requested one from the seller of the produce and could not obtain one due to the product already having left New Zealand. The fallout that occurred was that the blueberries had to be destroyed, and the importer was out the cost to purchase the blueberries and the cost to ship them via air freight.