Step 1. Get A Business Number
You can do this either as a business or an individual.
If you already have a Business Number, you can simply add an import/export account to your existing Number.
You can register for a new Business Number or add an import/export account to an existing Number here.
While doing this, you should also register for your GST (Goods And Services Tax).
Step 2. Check For Regulations, Permits Or Restrictions
Certain goods are completely prohibited from being imported from China to Canada.
Check the full list of prohibited goods to ensure your products don’t fall into this category.
Goods That Are Subject To Extra Permits, Restrictions Or Regulations
Certain goods have extra government requirements to import from China to Canada that need the appropriate certificate/permit.
The CBSA also imposes labelling requirements on certain types of goods. More info here.
Certain goods are subject to measures under the Special Import Measures Act (SIMA).
Check index of products subject to SIMA to see if it is applicable to your products from China.
Step 3. Classify Your Goods And Calculate Your Import Duties, Taxes
Your goods have a tariff classification number called Harmonized System (HS).This number will be used to determine the rate of duty you will need to pay to import from China to Canada.
Find your product’s tariff number by following these steps:
• Access the CBSA customs tariff page
• On the latest version of the Tariff, click on 'Customs Tariff by chapter'
• Find your product class in the table and access the PDF containing the tariff rates
• Inside the PDF, there will be another table of individual products. Go through them until you find your specific product
• Once you find your specific product, its tariff number will be listed on the left under ‘Tariff Item’
Determine the rate of duty applicable to your goods
Inside the same document you found your tariff number, on the right, there are two columns: ‘MFN (Most-Favoured-Nation) Tariff’ and ‘Applicable Preferential Tariffs’.
China and Canada are entitled to use the rate of duty specified under the ‘MFN Tariff’ column.
China does not have a trade agreement with Canada, so the tariff rate applicable to your product will only be the one listed in the ‘MFN Tariff’ column.
This tariff rate represents the rate of duty you will have to pay Customs for importing your goods from China to Canada.
Determine the value of the goods you are importing
Now that you have determined your product’s tariff classification number and its rate of duty, you need to work out your product’s value for duty.
Value for duty is the amount you paid for your goods. But this doesn’t refer to just the price you paid for the products themselves.
It also includes:
• Packing costs
• Shipping costs
All of these costs may or may not be included in the invoice received from your manufacturer in China.
If they are not, make sure to add them in order to arrive at the correct value for duty of your goods.
Example Duty Calculation
Price of Products (including packaging): $2000
Cost of Packing: $100
Cost of Shipping: $500
Cost of Insurance: $40
Rate of Duty: 4%
Value For Duty: 2000 + 100 +500 + 40 = $2640
Customs Duty Payable: 4% * $2640 = $105.6
Determine if your goods are subject to the goods and services tax (GST) or excise tax
Most goods imported for commercial use are subject to the services tax (GST), which is 5% of the value for tax.
Value for tax is calculated in the same way as value for duty, except it also includes the customs duty payable.
Value For Tax = Cost Of Products + Cost of Packaging + Cost of Shipping + Insurance + Customs Duty Payable
Example GST Calculation
Value For Tax = Value For Duty ($2640) + Customs Duty Payable ($105.6) = $2745.6
GST = 5% * 2745.6 = $137.28
Total of Customs Duty and GST Payable = $242.88
Step 4. Find A Freight Forwarder
Import documents & coordinating your customs clearance, as well as shipping your goods are quite complex and difficult. Which is why importers hire freight forwarders to do it.
Their role is to get your goods shipped quickly, safely and cheaply from your factory in China to your warehouse in Canada.
They coordinate between your factory, freight carriers, and customs brokers to handle all of your import documents, transportation, and customs clearance.
Import Documents & Customs Clearance
The freight forwarder will coordinate with your factory in China to create all of the necessary import documents, then with customs authorities to get these documents submitted and approved.
Necessary documents when importing from China to Canada include:
• Commercial Invoice (Canada Customs Invoice)
• Certificate of Origin (when applicable)
• Your Import/export license acquired in the first step of this guide
• Any special permits or certifications your product requires
Your freight forwarder will check in with you periodically to request specific information they need and to keep you up to date on the status of your import.
The invoice you’ll receive from the freight forwarder will contain everything from shipping to insurance and taxes & duties payable.
The freight forwarder will advise you on the best shipping method from China to Canada based on:
• Volume of goods or products
• Time requirements
• Safety requirements
• Frequency of shipments
For a better understanding of each of their advantages and disadvantages, check out the guide we wrote on this topic specifically.
Your freight forwarder will work with your factory and freight carriers to coordinate the transportation of your goods, including:
• Pickup by truck from your factory
• Delivery to the port of export (China)
• Transport by plane/ship from the port of export (China) to the port of import (Canada)
• Pickup by truck from the port of import (Canada)
• Delivery to your warehouse/address
Different carriers will be required for different lengths of the import journey, so it can get quite complicated.
Luckily, this is what freight forwarders do.
How To Find A Freight Forwarder
Look no further than Bookairfreight!
We specialize in China to Canada import shipments and work with a network of tier 1 freight forwarders to guarantee you the best rates on the market.
We’re a truly modern online freight marketplace, offering a multitude of benefits, including:
• Free insurance of up to US$10,000 on every shipment
• Online user dashboard where you can book, track and manage your shipments in one place
• Outstanding customer care and support
Work with the freight partner you deserve. Get a quote now!
Importing from China to Canada can seem too much to handle at first, but if you find the right partners it becomes much easier.
Delegating different parts of the importing process will allow you to spend less time on operations and more time on the areas that help grow your business.
We wish you the best of luck, and if you have any questions whatsoever feel free to shoot us a message.
Local Digital Marketing manager and content creator at Bookairfreight. I am someone who loves literature, but here to simplify interesting topics within the logistics industry that are easy to digest.