Exporting Goods From Canada

Goods leaving Canada from the UofA must be declared to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) if the value is equal to or greater than $2,000 CAD or an export permit has been issued. Appropriate documentation also must be presented to the foreign country of destination in order for the goods to be allowed into that country.

It is the responsibility of the exporter (the business unit) to ensure exported goods are compliant with the Customs Act and its associated regulations. The home unit/department of the employee shipping or travelling with exported goods is responsible for any penalties, which can range from $100 to $25,000.

Customs Services is responsible to ensure all University export transactions are compliant with applicable Canadian legislation and with international governments as required. We provide advice, guidance and prepare customs export documentation to all individuals or departments shipping or carrying goods to locations outside of Canada. Customs Services works alongside the SMS Shipping Office to ensure customs documentation is correct, accurate and compliant with applicable regulations.

Employees/business units who anticipate shipping or travelling with goods outside of Canada should contact Customs Services as early as possible in the planning stages.
Normally, 3-6 weeks are required to arrange for export permits and documentation, depending on the nature of the goods and complexity of the transaction.

Mandatory Information for Goods Leaving Canada

Faculties/Departments/Units sending goods to the USA or overseas must provide specific information to Customs Services and/or Shipping who will prepare the customs documents. Regardless of the mode of transportation, reason for export or value, the following information is always required:

  • Name and campus address of UofA sender
  • Name and address of foreign recipient
  • Detailed description of the goods
    (including model/serial/catalog number, source of DNA/RNA material)
  • Quantity of the goods
  • Value of the goods (actual price paid for purchased goods)
  • Country of manufacture (or in the case of books, country of printing)
  • Reason for shipping (e.g. sold to consignee, equipment for repair & return to Canada)

Shipping by Courier/Freight Forwarder

For goods being shipped by courier or freight carrier, complete a Shipping Form (found in the SMS Forms Cabinet under Distribution Services). In addition to the mandatory information above we may require:

  • Federal Tax ID number of the recipient if located in USA
  • Dangerous Goods Shipper’s Declaration, if applicable
  • Enclosed Canadian Export Permit or import permit of the receiving country, if applicable

Goods Accompanying a Traveller

Customs Services prepares export documentation and arranges paperwork for goods being accompanied by a UofA employee or student for international field research, conferences, meetings and competitions. We require written notification a minimum of 3 weeks prior to the date of travel, but goods requiring export permits may take up to 6 weeks. A package of customs documents with instructions on how to declare goods will be provided to the traveller prior to the trip date. Goods without appropriate documentation can be delayed, refused or seized and destroyed by foreign or Canadian customs authorities.

If planning to ‘hand-carry’ UofA equipment internationally (excluding cellular phones, laptops, PDA, iPads/tablets) provide Customs Services with a list of the items for export.

In addition to the mandatory information above, we may also require:

  • Travel itinerary (including full address of the UofA traveller’s destination)
  • Enclosed Canadian export permit and/or import permit of the receiving country (if applicable)
  • Mode of transport (e.g. via airplane or driving)
    Via Air:
       -   Carry-on or checked luggage
       -   Number and type of bags
       -   Weight of the goods
    Via Road To the USA (Driving):
       -   Completion of a TRIP sheet with the following information
    • Vehicle information (make, model, year, license plate number)
    • Trailer information (if applicable)
    • Passport information of driver and all passengers
    • Date and port name of crossing into the USA
    • Return Date

Common Customs Export Documents

CERS – (Canadian Export Reporting System): Customs Services and SMS Shipping use CERS for electronic reporting of goods leaving Canada. CBSA must receive the electronic reporting in advance of the goods leaving Canada and they may request to examine the goods. CERS provides them with the description of goods, their values, who is carrying the goods and from which port the goods are leaving.

Canada Customs (or Commercial) Invoice: This document accompanies the goods and/or the traveller and is required to account for goods with CBSA (Canada) and with US Customs and Border Protection. It details the name of the sender, the name of the recipient, description of goods and the tariff classification, quantity, value, country of manufacture and the reason for export. 

E15: This form is used when a traveller is taking goods out of the country on a temporary basis. The document is presented to a CBSA agent, along with a copy of a commercial invoice. The agent stamps the E15 form which is to be retained by the traveller and used for re-entry back into Canada without payment of duty and taxes on the goods.

ATA Carnet: This is an internationally recognized customs document for the temporary importation of goods. Accepted in over 71 countries, the carnet permits the duty-free and tax-free importation of goods into foreign countries, simplifies customs procedures, reduces business costs and saves time and paperwork. Application for an ATA Carnet and the associated bond may take up to one week, so travellers are encouraged to contact Customs Services well in advance.

FCC Form 740 (if required): This form provides the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with a declaration that imported radio frequency devices meet with FCC guidelines or will be brought into compliance with applicable technical rules.

DOT Forms (if required): This provides the US Department of Transportation with a declaration regarding imported vehicles. The forms may vary, depending on the type of vehicle and the nature of it being in the country.

EPA prior approval (if required): Advance approval is required from the US Environmental Protection Agency for the import of any type of vehicle that operates under its own power. For departments that go to the US for competition with vehicles, EPA requires 6 weeks prior approval

Foreign Duties and Taxes

University owned goods entering foreign countries are subject to the taxation system of those countries. Value Added Tax (VAT) is the foreign equivalent to GST in Canada and varies from 12 to 25% of the declared value of the goods. Faculties/Departments/Units should be aware that they will receive an invoice from the courier for foreign VAT (and possibly duty) on shipments sent “pre-paid” from the University. Unlike Canadian GST, the UofA is not eligible for VAT recovery, so this cost should be included in shipping budgets.