How To Import For A Trade Show In The US Or Canada
Are you attending a trade show across the border? This post will teach you what you need to know about Trade Show Imports into the US or Canada.
Trade Show Imports: Saul Better Call Us
Saul was going to display his super duper machine at a trade show in Houston, Texas. His machine was bound to be a disruptor in the market and he was excited to show it off. Saul booked his booth, made his travel plans and hooked his machine to the back of his pick up, threw his promotional material in his suitcase and headed for the border.
What Saul did not know was he had to take certain steps before he made his way out of Canada and into the US.
- He did not realize that the entire bottle of window cleaner would need to be declared and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) would require a statement for the declaration.
- Saul did not know that the promotional material he would distribute at the event would need a consumption entry
- He did not understand that the super duper machine could be a consumption entry or a bond. A consumption entry would be the better choice if the machine is dutiable. If it is not dutiable, it would be better to use a bond. However, a bond comes with a tight timeline and increases the chance of a penalty.
Needless to say, Saul was late to his trade show and he had a few more expenses (in the form of penalties) that he did not account for in his budget.
A trade show could likely be on your horizon. If you are asking the question "how can I get my trade show goods across the border?" first off, kudos to you for researching. Secondly, hooray, you have come to the right place.
In this blog you will find a practical checklist to help you prepare for an international trade show. As well as, what you will need to know to import your trade goods into the US or Canada.
Trade Show Logistics, Not As Easy As 1-2-3
Trade Show Imports Checklist (7)
(1) Take Inventory
Make a list of what you want to bring to the show and split the list into two sections.
Section one will include anything you could leave behind. Anything you would use, consume, giveaway or sell while in the country.
The second section will include everything you will bring home in its entirety.
(2) Remove Purchasable Products
If you have an item that will be used or consumed in the visiting country, a simple option is to buy the product once you arrive rather than import them. A good example would be cleaning supplies. Even something as simple as glass cleaner could provide a hold-up at customs. Purchasing supplies in the country you are visiting will eliminate risks when clearing customs.
(3) Are The Goods Eligible?
Check with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Participating Government Agency, or your Customs Broker to see if there are any restrictions on the goods you are wanting to take to the show.
(4) Marking, Quantity And Packaging
All samples must meet marking regulations, and they must be within the country's quantity and packaging requirements. Otherwise your goods could experience delays or be seized at customs.
(5) Entry Type
Find out from your customs broker what is the best type of entry to use for your goods. A Customs Broker will be able to help with your timeline requirements and potentially reduce your costs at customs.
(6) Letter of Recognition
The International Events and Convention Services Program (IECSP) was developed to encourage businesses and organizations to hold trade shows, conventions, events and exhibitions in Canada. They provide guidance and information to facilitate event participants, foreign exhibitors, and temporary imported goods and materials, into and out of Canada.
CBSA offers the IECSP in order for you to have one primary contact to provide you with federal government services and requirements associated with international events and conventions taking place in Canada.
Some trade shows will have a letter of recognition that is provided from CBSA to the event organizer. If the trade show you are attending has a letter of recognition you will be able to contact the event organizer for a copy of the letter of recognition.
If your Trade Show has a letter of recognition, the letter will contain:
- The name and type of event
- The date and location of the event
- The expected number of participants
- Who is responsible for processing any CBSA documents
- Event Organizer
- Customs Broker
- Delegated Representative
- A list of goods brought into Canada, their origin and intended use
- A list of controlled goods being imported
- A list of goods that will be sold or given away
- If applicable, a note requesting the event be considered for Border to Show Service
- What goods can possibly enter duty free and/or receive partial relief from GST/HST
What if the trade show you are attending does not have a letter of recognition? If your trade show does not have a letter of recognition, it means you have no designated exemptions.
(7) Time Limits
Some temporary imports and sample imports must be exported within a certain time frame. Take note of the entry date to make sure you do not go past expiry.
Trade Show Importing Into The US
Is Your Import Duty Free?
Your import may be duty free if it is imported under a Temporary Import Bond (TIB), or if it is eligible to be imported under a Free Trade Agreement.
Exhibiting In A US Trade Show: Consider A Temporary Import Bond
Is A Merchandise Processing Fee Applied?
All of your imports require a merchandise processing fee unless they are under a Free Trade Agreement. Unsure of what a merchandise process fee is?
Check out our blog: Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) Explained.
Your Recommended Entry
Consumption entries are recommended for anything that is consumable. Any goods where the duty is above $100.00 USD you would best be suited to import under a Temporary Import Bond. Keep in mind Temporary Import Bond items must be exported within 6-12 months depending on the commodity and everyone that was entered under a TIB must export in the TIB time frame or the importer of records would be subject to penalties.
Errors You Will Most Often See
In speaking with our Vice President of US Operations, Breanna Leininger, she described the most common errors you will see when you try to import items for a trade show into the US:
"The most common errors we see are in packaging and invoicing. When looking to import goods into the US for a trade show it is vitally important to package and invoice consumables such as giveaways separate from the trade show booth. Those items cannot be brought in under a TIB and must be filed under a consumption entry. This can also prove to be helpful if you are flagged for inspection because it helps CBP identify what will be returning and what will stay in the US, which will save you time, money, and a headache."
Note: We recommend getting items you could buy from a store or any types of consumable items, such as cleaning supplies or first aid kits, in the country your trade show is in. Items purchased in a store can require additional statements and manufacturing information you may not have access to when purchasing from a store.
Trade Show Importing Into Canada
Is Your Import Duty Free? Tax Free?
Your import will be duty free if it is recognized in a letter of recognition, if it is imported under a Temporary Import Bond (TIB), or if it is eligible to be imported under a Free Trade Agreement. To be tax free your import must either be imported on a Temporary Import Bond or waived by a letter of recognition.
Your Recommended Entry
Souvenirs and advertising materials intended for sale or consumption in Canada must be accounted for on a B3. Any branded paraphernalia left in Canada must also be accounted for on a B3. E29Bs are required for returning branded paraphernalia, office machines and equipment, as well as, display goods.
Errors You Will Most Often See
In speaking with our Canadian release Operations Manager, Cherie Storms, she described the most common errors you will see when you try to import items for a trade show into Canada:
“Forgetting to ask the event organizer if the event has been approved by CBSA, and if so, travelling with the approval letter which supports the purpose of entry. Also, bringing in consumables that will not be returned, forgetting that there may be duties and taxes on those.
Why You Should Declare Your Trade Show Imports
Not declaring items intended for business purposes is illegal. Customs can make samples useless for resale and your goods could even be seized or destroyed. Keep in mind not being prepared at customs can delay your journey. Being forced to complete all of the paperwork at the port of entry can be a huge headache and time consuming. Knowing before you go will make your trade show experience pain-free.