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Importing/Exporting and the Question of Value

Expert: David Stockwell

Cory asked:

Can I export goods (bicycles and related parts) that we import from Asia to Canada by simply completing a commercial invoice? Or will normal values need to be established no matter the size of the shipment--even if it is just a couple of units?

David Stockwell answered:

To give a completely comprehensive answer would be difficult because there are too many assumptions I'd have to make about the nature of your business and what you've be doing with the shipments. But, as far as using a commercial invoice and normal values, here is the general rule about declaring values at customs.

When exporting to Canada, Canadian customs will want to know the transaction value of the goods crossing the border, meaning you must disclose the amount of money you paid for the items before you exported them.

If the amount on the commercial invoice is what you paid for the items, you can use the figures on the invoice as your transaction value.

Keep in mind transaction value is not the same as market value or wholesale value, but transaction value could be same number as the wholesale or market value of the item depending on whom you bought it from.

If no money was paid, a fair market value must be assigned to the goods. This value can be an average price of what the price is for similar products.

Any applicable duties and taxes have to be paid for the items in addition to any shipping fees. These can vary depending on the company and destination, so be sure to check with your shipper of choice in advance.

About the author

David Stockwell is with Stockwell International Trade Solutions in Toronto, providing consulting and solutions for businesses involved in international trade.

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