Shopping Discussion

Ordering an item from Hong Kong

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 24th, 2011 2:06 pm
Tags:
None
[OP]
Member
Feb 20, 2011
460 posts
91 upvotes

Ordering an item from Hong Kong

So I want to order a $125 item from Hong Kong. What can I expect to pay in taxes and duties? I read that you have to pay HST on anything over $20. Does that only apply to importing items for commercial use or am I going to get charged for a single, personal item? I also read that gifts up to $60 are exempt from taxes and duties. If I get the shipper to right on the package that it is a gift under $60 can I avoid the taxes and duties?
25 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 31, 2007
1989 posts
147 upvotes
red_skittles wrote:
Feb 21st, 2011 1:39 am
So I want to order a $125 item from Hong Kong. What can I expect to pay in taxes and duties? I read that you have to pay HST on anything over $20. Does that only apply to importing items for commercial use or am I going to get charged for a single, personal item? I also read that gifts up to $60 are exempt from taxes and duties. If I get the shipper to right on the package that it is a gift under $60 can I avoid the taxes and duties?

Gift or not gift means nothing, the custom can charge $5 fee plus HST if they want. I have item at less than $50 got charged and at other time over $100 and not charged.
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
16864 posts
9208 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
red_skittles wrote:
Feb 21st, 2011 1:39 am
So I want to order a $125 item from Hong Kong. What can I expect to pay in taxes and duties? I read that you have to pay HST on anything over $20. Does that only apply to importing items for commercial use or am I going to get charged for a single, personal item?
Expect to pay HST plus brokerage ($5 at Canada Post, BOHIC at UPS.) There may also be duty depending on the item and country of manufacture. Also the item must be legal for importation to Canada. (Many weapons and dangerous goods aren't.) Call CBSA to ask about the specific item you want to import or peruse http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trade-commer ... u-eng.html
I also read that gifts up to $60 are exempt from taxes and duties. If I get the shipper to right on the package that it is a gift under $60 can I avoid the taxes and duties?
The seller has to declare true value. If the shipper underdeclares and you knowingly use that value then you're both committing fraud. Also a gift must be a bona fide gift. CBSA will expect to see a gift card or handwritten note. They won't expect to see an invoice for $135.
veni, vidi, Visa
Banned
Sep 22, 2008
8322 posts
542 upvotes
customs is not idiots and they know people will always undervalue items.
they can have you show them the payment made to the seller, such as paypal, credit card, tt, western union etc...
if you want trouble do as you please.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 9, 2003
7619 posts
1201 upvotes
Burnaby
On the othe hand, many hong kong sellers don't give a damn and just put down anything.

Depends what it is you're getting really
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
16864 posts
9208 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
crimsona wrote:
Feb 21st, 2011 10:24 am
On the othe hand, many hong kong sellers don't give a damn and just put down anything.
That neither makes it legal or ethical for you to go along with their fraud.

In any case, if Customs opens the package for inspection and decides the declared value is wrong they'll simply make their own estimate of the value, which will usually be much higher than what you actually paid the seller, leaving you to pay HST based on the higher value or to launch an appeal. Worse if they find something in the package that incriminates you, e.g. a comment field in which you asked the seller to declare a low value that got included on the invoice, then you could also be looking at charges and/or fines.

If you get caught you'll quickly realize that the $10 you "saved" is going to cost you many times that much over the ensuing years that you stay flagged on their system for "VIP" scrutiny.
veni, vidi, Visa
Deal Fanatic
Sep 9, 2003
7619 posts
1201 upvotes
Burnaby
I've never seen a package from hong kong properly documented, and that's without any prompting from myself.

Make a few orders from dealextreme, you'll notice the customs form never reflects the actual cost. It seems like they just fill in any random number

I've also had a Taiwanese manufacturer mail me a $200 SSD as a $0 commercial sample when I had expected to pay $35 or so in HST plus canada post handling
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jun 26, 2005
9556 posts
1567 upvotes
Toronto
Find a friend that is coming back from HK. I'm sure if you ask around, there are tons of people that know someone.

Ship it to their house in HK, then ask them to bring it back. Unless your item is super heavy, then its not very nice hehe.
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
16864 posts
9208 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
crimsona wrote:
Feb 21st, 2011 10:56 am
I've never seen a package from hong kong properly documented, and that's without any prompting from myself.
Make a few orders from dealextreme, you'll notice the customs form never reflects the actual cost. It seems like they just fill in any random number
I have. Many times. Actually that's what led me to say, "if Customs opens the package for inspection and decides the declared value is wrong they'll simply make their own estimate of the value, which will usually be much higher than what you actually paid the seller, leaving you to pay HST based on the higher value or to launch an appeal."

The appeals process was enough of a hassle that now I explicitly ask DX to indicate the actual value of the contents on their customs declaration rather than use their generic declaration of "flashlight." Most of the times they do and most of those times the package sails through.
I've also had a Taiwanese manufacturer mail me a $200 SSD as a $0 commercial sample when I had expected to pay $35 or so in HST plus canada post handling
That usually works if the item is a legitimate commercial sample. Good luck if Customs opens the package and finds an invoice for $200.

BTW while I'm not a customs expert, I suspect that even if the item is labelled as a commercial sample, if it has a market value of $200, customs could still charge you HST on that even if you received the item for free. This is no different from a genuine gift that someone sends you that's valued at $200. Regardless of what you paid, you're bringing in something of value and thus may be subject to HST (and even duty, depending on the item and its origin) on it.
veni, vidi, Visa
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
16864 posts
9208 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
rfdrfd wrote:
Feb 21st, 2011 11:11 am
then ask them to bring it back
They still have to declare it when they return to Canada and, if it exceeds their personal exemption limit, may be required to pay HST. They can't declare it on someone else's behalf.
veni, vidi, Visa
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
16864 posts
9208 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
packardbell wrote:
Feb 21st, 2011 12:09 pm
you live in canada then expect to pay taxes.
And where, pray tell, could one live without any expectation of paying taxes? :facepalm:
veni, vidi, Visa
Banned
Sep 22, 2009
691 posts
311 upvotes
Toronto
Many US states don't have State taxes and have very low sales taxes. In this pathetic country, we have oppressive sales taxes AND Federal Taxes. Canadian taxpayer sheep love to relinquish their wallets just so they can run to the doctor with a runny nose 10X/week.

P.S. I get tons of things shipped here as "gifts"... if in doubt, have it sent to a place like US ADDRESS in Niagara Falls and then drive it over.. Practice this.. "Anything to declare?"... "Just $20 in groceries"... Only sheep pay HST.
Jr. Member
User avatar
Oct 26, 2009
151 posts
7 upvotes
I have purchased a few things off ebay from Hong Kong worth hundreds of dollars and have always expected to pay duty and/or taxes but have never been charged.

On the other hand, most everything from the US seems to attract HST or brokerage. :confused:
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jan 10, 2010
6875 posts
2585 upvotes
Calgary
Yup. Same here. Have bought many things from Hong Kong and China and never been charged. On the other hand, my US purchases always arrive with taxes and a customs fee.

Top