International shopping and duties
Having the ability to shop globally means risk of paying duties. This is something that I completely overlooked because out of all the times I have ordered small items without having to deal with this. So imagine my surprise when I received a letter in the mail from FEDEX. To be exact, I received a “Past Due” invoice from a courier. I had zero idea what it was for, except that it said I owed $156. I looked up the 24-hr contact line for this courier and called immediately. Here’s the gist of that conversation.
Me: Hi. I received an invoice from you today, but I have no idea what it’s for and this is the first time I’ve received an invoice from regarding this. My invoice number is 12345.
FEDEX: This invoice is for customs owed on something you purchased in New York from XYZ. It was shipped to you in February.
Me: Yep. That was me and my impulse buy in NYC. Ok. Thanks for your help!
FEDEX: No problem. Have a good night. Don’t forget to pay it!
After I got off the phone, I decided to do some research on customs and duties. My conclusion at the end of all that was the product I had purchased is exempt from duties under NAFTA (gotta love North American trade relations!).
I checked with a friend who has a contact in CBSA and she confirmed that I was correct. I’m still in the process of dealing with FEDEX. I recently confirmed this, so now I have to go back and talk to FEDEX and see why they think they can charge me duties on an item that’s exempt.
In any case, just a pre-cautionary note to all who make international purchases online. If you can prove that the product you are purchasing was MADE in United States, Mexico or Canada, it is exempt from duties under NAFTA. Many people are not aware of this! Art pieces may also be exempt from duties with a certificate of authentication (but don’t quote me on this). Contact CBSA if you aren’t sure about something you are being charged duties on.
Side note: I even categorized this post as Travel because the item I bought traveled from NYC to Toronto. Wishing I could be the one in transit right now.