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Buying furniture across the border

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 20th, 2006 12:59 am
Deal Fanatic
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Dec 3, 2004
5112 posts

Buying furniture across the border

I am looking at buying some fairly expensive (large) leather furniture from the USA, like 2 large sofa's with 5 seats each. The total cost should be somewhere around $3200 US. I am pretty sure that the furniture is made outside of the USA, like in China or something. To save on shipping costs, the guy is shipping it to Bellingham, WA and I am driving across from Vancouver to pick it all up.

Now my question is, what happens when I cross the border with all these brand new boxes in my uhaul truck and they ask if I purchased anything down there and I tell them "yeah, I bought two large sofa's". Will I get pulled over and and have to go inside or to the brokerage agency and figure it all out. I assume so.

That being said, where on earth can I find anything even remotely close online to telling me how on fricken earth the border services figures out duties? I have heard it's 15% on all items, plus PST/GST, plus the brokerage fees (how much would they be?)

So if I have a reciept showing I paid $3200 US for this stuff, and it's made in China, does that mean I'll basically end up paying 28% total duty on it. Or do I get taxed on the duty I pay too? Plus brokerage fees...? So all together I am looking at $896 in duties and taxes, and that's US so in CDN it would be over $1000.

Can someone tell me if I answered my own question - or if I am simply confused?
3 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 19, 2005
2838 posts
I bought a gazebo for my hot tub in the U.S and brought it across in a rental truck. I had to pay only pst/gst on the value,,,, it was duty free,,,,, but if the furniture is from china,,, you may have additional charges,,,,,, check with customs,, they can tell you
Deal Fanatic
Jan 16, 2003
6244 posts
Do some more shopping, you might be able to find something made in Canada for pretty much the same price the chinese stuff + duties... (and help the canadian economy).
Deal Fanatic
Apr 24, 2006
6766 posts
I'm not sure where you're getting the 15% + GST/PST? Generally any additional duty/tax owing is calculated using 'Most Favorable Nation' (MFN) duty rate which is somewhere around 6.1%.

It's been a long time since I processed an importation of furniture so it's *possible* additional duties/excise tax have come into play specifically for furniture, but it's highly doubtful.

So you'd be looking at GST+PST+MFN (approx 6.1%, it tends to change). There is always the chance though the officer will only process you for GST and PST. If this happens, smile, say thank you and keep walking. :)

And no, if you're importing this as a personal importation (i.e NOT as a company, well even if you were doing it as a company you may not need to use a broker depending on the situation) and you are driving it across the border yourself, you will NOT need to use any brokerage company, you will be referred directly into the Canada Border Services Agency office where a Border Services Officer will process you.
I Declare - The official guide to your Customs exemptions and item restrictions when returning to Canada from abroad.