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OT: PM members Bob, BSG, Sip6a, and others. Need customs advice for bringing machinery into the US from Canada

Spud

Diamond
Joined
Jan 12, 2006
Location
Brookfield, Wisconsin
Collecting (in-person) a small shaper from Canada and bringing it over to the US. Machine is probably 50 or 60+ years old.

Coming back into the US via the Ambassador Port Facility in Detroit. Talked to 2 CBP officials at the Port Facility yesterday. They said I need the invoice, need to describe the machine & may need to complete the Manifest / ACE form. While I do not require a Customs Broker they highly recommend one because a broker would tell me if I need the Manifest / ACE form. One official said I could apply for a 1-time exemption for the requirement to file a manifest / ACE form because I asked them how I can find out if I need to complete the ACE form without employing a broker.

Member ADH2000 said that PM member Bob has brought over many items. Seen posts here from BSG and Sip6a also about bringing over machines.

Any advice you can give me? Any recommendations for customs brokers? I need to ask them if I need to fill out the ACE form. This would be for hobby / homeshop use.

With fees and Ontario HST the invoice comes to $673 Canadian dollars. I will be paying via wire before I go there.

Thanks
 
I’ve never needed any forms or brokers for the trips I made myself, that’s more than a half dozen!
Only time I needed a broker was when I had someone else ship the item.

I don’t believe you have to pay HST tax either, IIRC that’s only for using what you bought in the country.

What I learned, have all the paperwork of what you’re purchasing and from whom, business or individual and their contact info……..also how you bought and paid for the item with paperwork.

Good luck and we need pictures!

Kevin
 
I had only one bad experience. I parted out a haas mill on EBay and agreed to deliver to Denver. Truckload of stuff mostly sheet metal. Guy at border said it was a commercial entry and would need a broker. Went to broker but he would not do it because I had no account. So I took a chance and went to another crossing told the same story and was waved through.. Problem is on both side is lack of knowledge. I doubt very much that you will have a problem on your item. Just tell the truth and have some nice official looking paper work. Theoretically the seller should not charge GST but if he insists there is a way to get it back. Make a claim at Canada customs on your way backward
Bob
 
Seller will have to charge Ontario 13% HST (not GST, this is Ontario) if you are picking it up in person. Get a receipt and, as Bob suggests, claim it back at Canadian Customs on way out of Canada.

If you are not a business, I don’t see why you would need a broker when you are transporting goods yourself. Esp for a low value small item like this. Take that with a grain of salt as I haven’t imported into US. Just be honest, have pics of your home shop and your projects to show customs guys. They aren’t likely familiar with home shop guys, so make it easier for them to understand. Will be even easier if the item was made in US.
 
Seller will have to charge Ontario 13% HST (not GST, this is Ontario) if you are picking it up in person. Get a receipt and, as Bob suggests, claim it back at Canadian Customs on way out of Canada.

If you are not a business, I don’t see why you would need a broker when you are transporting goods yourself. Esp for a low value small item like this. Take that with a grain of salt as I haven’t imported into US. Just be honest, have pics of your home shop and your projects to show customs guys. They aren’t likely familiar with home shop guys, so make it easier for them to understand. Will be even easier if the item was made in US.
The auction house did not charge me Canadian Sales Tax because I told them I am an American who is picking up in person and taking the machine across the border. They did tell me that they would need me to send the Bill of Lading as proof that I picked up in person.

They charged me $13.10 Canadian dollars for the Ontario HST.
 
The auction house is full of you know what. HST is the combined Ontario and Canadian sales tax. The amount you mention doesn’t compute with your total, but it’s in your favor…
 
The auction house is full of you know what. HST is the combined Ontario and Canadian sales tax. The amount you mention doesn’t compute with your total, but it’s in your favor…
The auction house said the Ontario HST was 13% of the Buyer's Premium.
B.P. is 18% , which comes to around $100

They now raised the HST to $20.90 because they added $60 for loading.
 
So I take it no one here knows of a Customs Broker in the Detroit area ?

So far I have emailed and called three Brokerages. Not received a reply. One company in Canada did tell me that to bring an item into the US I would need a US broker not a Canadian one. I would like to talk to a broker because the CBP official highly recommended it.
 
The process is so convoluted it seems impossible to do without a broker. The system is not setup for an individual to do this stuff. It is also difficult when different BP officers have different interpretations of the rules.

I purchased a CNC lathe in BC in 2022. I started trying to do it myself and it was a nightmare. Ended up finding a broker who was good to work with. Cost me roughly 2k on top of the machine price, but that included all the taxes, fees, and duties.

Carson International
They have offices on both sides of the border.

Might be a lot of hoops to jump through for such a cheap item. I might just show up to the border with an invoice and a check book and hope the folks working that day can figure it out.
 
The process is so convoluted it seems impossible to do without a broker. The system is not setup for an individual to do this stuff. It is also difficult when different BP officers have different interpretations of the rules.

I purchased a CNC lathe in BC in 2022. I started trying to do it myself and it was a nightmare. Ended up finding a broker who was good to work with. Cost me roughly 2k on top of the machine price, but that included all the taxes, fees, and duties.

Carson International
They have offices on both sides of the border.

Might be a lot of hoops to jump through for such a cheap item. I might just show up to the border with an invoice and a check book and hope the folks working that day can figure it out.
Is the brokerage fee a % of the cost of your machine?

If so the fee in my case might be to small for any broker to bother with me?
 
I believe it was a fixed rate for brokerage. Couple hundred if I remember correctly.

I am guessing it is U.S. iron based on the age, so that can make it a lot easier.
 
So I take it no one here knows of a Customs Broker in the Detroit area ?

So far I have emailed and called three Brokerages. Not received a reply. One company in Canada did tell me that to bring an item into the US I would need a US broker not a Canadian one. I would like to talk to a broker because the CBP official highly recommended it.
I cannot recommend a broker, didn't like either one I dealt with, it was fee after fee.........was never quoted a price, just an estimate, wasn't close to what I ended up paying!

I think you're making it more difficult than it has to be. If you're that concerned about crossing the border with the machine you may be further ahead just having it shipped?

Kevin
 
All of you may find this of use. I just talked to a lady who runs a Customs compliance and training business. She is not a broker but does know the field.

She said as long as the US dollar value is not more than $800 I can bring it in without needing an ACE / Manifest. She said $200 used to be the limit on how much an individual can bring in but during the Obama administration they raised it to $800. So When you travel abroad, buy stuff and bring it back in, as long as it is below $800 you don't need a Customs Broker. The only exception is if it is regulated by the FDA or has lasers and she mentioned something else.

She said Section 321 on the US CBP website is pertinent law on this.

Here is what it says

Section 321, 19 USC 1321 is the statute that describes de minimis. De minimis provides admission of articles free of duty and of any tax imposed on or by reason of importation, but the aggregate fair retail value in the country of shipment of articles imported by one person on one day and exempted from the payment of duty shall not exceed $800. The de minimis threshold was previously $200, but increased with the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA).

 
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Side comment on the $800 "de minimis", which any normal person would call duty exemption allowance. It is being massively exploited by people taking in large values of goods from China exporters without paying a penny. The US gov.t is looking to reduce it urgently, so if you need something from abroad, order it now.

Some 10 years ago Australia had a similar high allowance, and at the same time an very strong currency. People were ordering stuff like custom parts exhaust for their V8 rides like crazy.
Of course that didn't last long, now, they now have none or low allowance for GST on imports.
 
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I am guessing it is U.S. iron based on the age, so that can make it a lot easier.
If it was built in the US, there is no duty. There is no duty on anything made in the US returning to the US.

Other fees and charges I can't say, but no duty. And you may have to have some kind of documentation that it was originally a product of the US, if it was. But that's not usually too difficult.
 


The above links should prove useful. Goods destined for personal use valued less than $2500 can be entered informally without the need for a customs bond or broker. You can make the entry yourself in person if you have all the correct documentation. I have successfully done this once. In my case the Customs and Border Protection officers knew less about the in-person informal entry process than I did (in person entry is rare), so fortunately I had printed out the relevant articles for them to read. Once they realized I had all my ducks in a row, I got the stamps and sailed straight through.

Good luck!
 


The above links should prove useful. Goods destined for personal use valued less than $2500 can be entered informally without the need for a customs bond or broker. You can make the entry yourself in person if you have all the correct documentation. I have successfully done this once. In my case the Customs and Border Protection officers knew less about the in-person informal entry process than I did (in person entry is rare), so fortunately I had printed out the relevant articles for them to read. Once they realized I had all my ducks in a row, I got the stamps and sailed straight through.

Good luck!
When you arrive at the US-Canadian border crossing (coming from the US) what do you tell Canadian and American border officials when they ask you why you are coming to Canada? Do you mention you bought a machine tool and are collecting it?

So I am quite a bit of a pickle right now.

Early morning last Friday I got a call from the auctioneer saying it was the last day for collection and I needed to come get it. I said even if I left then I wouldn't be able to make it until late night Friday. He said that was too late as he was heading back to Toronto. So I told him the only option was to come this week. He said for him to return to the machine's location (in Canada near Detroit) from Toronto it would cost me a couple of hundred $$$. So this is the only option I have right now.

Here is a little timeline of my attempts at getting answers from CBP

About 2.5 weeks ago a CBP officer advised I email his Supervisor asking for a 1 time exemption to filling out the ACE/Manifest. On March 1st I sent a detailed Email of my situation and description of the machine. Couple of days go by and I hear nothing so I call back. I am told Supervisor is away for 1 or 2 days and will get back to me. I call and let auctioneer know my situation with CBP and he says no problem he will wait for me.

I did not know last Friday was the last day until auctioneer called in the morning. After his phone call I immediately call CBP and am told by another supervisor that the supervisor I was looking for had been on vacation for 2-3 weeks but he was back in office at 2pm. No one at CBP told me the Supervisor was on vacation for that long.

The supervisor calls back around 1:30 pm and tells me I need to get a Customs Broker to fill out the ACE/Manifest form. He says I can not do it my self because it requires special software that I do not have. I ask about the 1 time exemption to filling this form, to which he says only the person filling out the ACE/Manifest can request an exemption from CBP, and the only person who can fill out the form is a Customs Broker..I explain the point of me requesting an exemption to the form was so that I don't need to hire a customs broker.

I ask about the Section 321 rule about bringing things in that was below $800 not requiring a Customs Broker and listing the item as an informal Entry. He says even the Section 321 rule requires I fill out an ACE/Manifest. I mention the CBP website for Section 321 doesn't mention the ACE/Manifest. He agrees it doesn't but directs me to the below link that mentions the need to fill out this form.


Right now I am trying to find customs brokers in Detroit. None of the big companies have gotten back to me. So I need to find some small time customs broker.


First though I am also going to try your solution.

Do you know of a small time customs broker in Detroit?
 
@dgcope

The PDF link you gave says it is a guide for "Commerical Importers" .

Regarding your 2nd link: What relevant articles do I need to print out for an In-Person informal Entry? When you arrived at the CBP crossing did you tell the officer you want to make an Informal Entry?

The Supervisor I talked to said I can not arrive at the border with the machine before completing the ACE / Manifest, which has to be done 1 hour prior to arrival.

I assume I will need the invoice from auctioneer showing the price and description of the machine.

Thanks
 
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Not trying to be a jerk here, but you’ve known about the sale since you posted on Feb 28th? And it’s now March 18th. What’s taking so long? You should have already picked it up or arranged for shipping. The auction house may be well within their rights to sell it to someone else or just scrap it and keep your money.
 
Not trying to be a jerk here, but you’ve known about the sale since you posted on Feb 28th? And it’s now March 18th. What’s taking so long? You should have already picked it up or arranged for shipping. The auction house may be well within their rights to sell it to someone else or just scrap it and keep your money.
I was in contact with them multiple times. Mentioned I was communicating with CBP. Auctoneer said no problem, he would wait for me. Auctioneer said I can come this week but I will need to pay him a couple of hundred for him to make the trip back to the machine's location.

I was eager to collect it last week or the week before but was waiting for CBP to respond to my email (which I mentioned to the auctioneer). I picked up a drill press in Columbus, Ohio (last Tuesday). My plan was to pick this machine in Canada and then go pick up the drill press because it was 270 miles from Canada to Columbus but I hadn't heard back from CBP so went to Columbus only.

Right now trying to find small times customs brokers in Detroit. Had emailed a few about 2 weeks ago but no response back. Mentioned this to the CBP supervisor. He said the ones I contacted only deal with big value items. So I am trying to find a small time broker who will deal with individuals bringing in low $ value single items.
 
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