Shopping Discussion

What info do custom agents write down when a bill is presented?

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[OP]
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May 16, 2013
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What info do custom agents write down when a bill is presented?

Without going into too many details (it's a loooong story), I'm wondering what info customs agents write down when you present a bill. Order #? Tracking #? Part #? Or only the cost?

Some agents don't seem to care to see a bill at all and just add the totals whereas others take a long look. Wondering which info is specifically noted down by the agents... if anybody has an inkling.
27 replies
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Feb 7, 2017
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As someone who used to work for Customs, I just LOVE these posts.

I am not going to tell you the ins & outs of the job.

You are ONLY ASKING cause you want to know how YOU MIGHT fool the system.

In reality, you are ONLY FOOLING YOURSELF

Eventually everyone gets caught
And that headache ain't worth it in the long run... So sucks to be in the Database and pulled into Secondary each.and.every.time you cross the border... Ask those who live that reality.

But hey, if you like rolling the dice, and losing, keep playing the game.

Otherwise, just do the right thing AND DECLARE EVERYTHING

9 times out of 10 the sticker shock of paying any or all duties owed, is a lot less than folks imagine, and way less hassle.
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PointsHubby wrote: As someone who used to work for Customs.....
I'm so sorry to hear that you had to work for customs. Congrats on getting out of there and moving on to better things.
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StratMangler wrote: Without going into too many details (it's a loooong story), I'm wondering what info customs agents write down when you present a bill. Order #? Tracking #? Part #? Or only the cost?

Some agents don't seem to care to see a bill at all and just add the totals whereas others take a long look. Wondering which info is specifically noted down by the agents... if anybody has an inkling.
I'm just guessing, from experience, nothing. Cross border shopped over 100 times in the past 5 years. Have not been double checked ever.
[OP]
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May 16, 2013
1448 posts
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PointsHubby wrote: As someone who used to work for Customs, I just LOVE these posts.

I am not going to tell you the ins & outs of the job.

You are ONLY ASKING cause you want to know how YOU MIGHT fool the system.

In reality, you are ONLY FOOLING YOURSELF

Eventually everyone gets caught
And that headache ain't worth it in the long run... So sucks to be in the Database and pulled into Secondary each.and.every.time you cross the border... Ask those who live that reality.

But hey, if you like rolling the dice, and losing, keep playing the game.

Otherwise, just do the right thing AND DECLARE EVERYTHING

9 times out of 10 the sticker shock of paying any or all duties owed, is a lot less than folks imagine, and way less hassle.
You have no idea about my intentions and integrity but thanks for automatically jumping to conclusion and believing the worst.

It has nothing to do with paying fewer or no taxes/duties when crossing.

Thanks for not helping in any way. I just LOVE these posts. :rolleyes:
Moderator
Sep 27, 2003
10902 posts
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Newmarket
PointsHubby wrote: As someone who used to work for Customs, I just LOVE these posts.

I am not going to tell you the ins & outs of the job.

You are ONLY ASKING cause you want to know how YOU MIGHT fool the system.

In reality, you are ONLY FOOLING YOURSELF

Eventually everyone gets caught
And that headache ain't worth it in the long run... So sucks to be in the Database and pulled into Secondary each.and.every.time you cross the border... Ask those who live that reality.

But hey, if you like rolling the dice, and losing, keep playing the game.

Otherwise, just do the right thing AND DECLARE EVERYTHING

9 times out of 10 the sticker shock of paying any or all duties owed, is a lot less than folks imagine, and way less hassle.
So...nothing positive to contribute to this thread then other than assumptions about the actions of another user on the site?
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[OP]
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EPcjay wrote: I'm just guessing, from experience, nothing. Cross border shopped over 100 times in the past 5 years. Have not been double checked ever.
That hasn't been my experience. I've had a bit of everything. Some agents stop me before I present a bill and just ask me to blurt out the total. Some want to see the bill and just add the totals while others study the bill a lot more intently and write down a number of things.

I was merely wondering in the last example, which info is actually taken down.
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Mar 23, 2004
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PointsHubby wrote: As someone who used to work for Customs, I just LOVE these posts.

I am not going to tell you the ins & outs of the job.

You are ONLY ASKING cause you want to know how YOU MIGHT fool the system.

In reality, you are ONLY FOOLING YOURSELF
...
blah blah blah
While I sort of agree with what you're saying (you should definitely declare what you have) that still came out of left field...like way out of left field. Besides you not helping at all, I'm at a loss as to how you'd come to the conclusion that the information he asked for would help, in any way, to "get away" with not declaring something. How on Earth does knowing what they are looking at/writing down on the recepit(s) change the dollar amount that's on there? It doesn't. So if we knew what they were writing, how would that change the likelihood of declaration? Puzzling conclusion.

Anyway I'm pretty sure they write in what type of goods they are and therefore what taxes and/or duties they are subject to. In my experience they usually just charge you HST on everything...I don't think I've ever paid duty on anything (even dutiable items) but at the same time I think they've probably charged me taxes on things that are tax exempt altogether. But of course it all just comes out in the wash IMO. I'm sure you can make them go through and itemise everything and total it up in whatever categories but say hello to being there for even more time and probably doing more inspections since you're screwing with them lol. But for example if they take a look at a Walmart bill and it's like 90% groceries, then they proably aren't going to bother with it, since most groceries aren't going to be taxable. OTOH if it has like a bunch of electronics items, furniture, small appliances on it, well it's probably going to go in the "tax on this" category...and again even if there's some groceries on there, they're probably going to tax on it all.
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Feb 7, 2017
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WorldIRC wrote: So...nothing positive to contribute to this thread then other than assumptions about the actions of another user on the site?
I did contribute positive info...

Declare everything... And always tell the truth.

There is no scenario where that advice won't put you in good standing with Customs Canada.

Wanting to know specifically what is recorded by Customs from a receipt...

I can only think of one scenario where that matters... That of wanting to in someway defraud the system.

What is recorded by Customs should never matter to the individual if they have told the truth.

That is true on an initial crossing / declaration - a return - a warranty claim - or anything else (including an Appeal of a Custom's Ruling)

Your receipt from a US Retailer works exactly the same way one does in Canada from a Cdn Retailer.
Last edited by PointsHubby on Aug 23rd, 2017 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PointsHubby wrote: As someone who used to work for Customs, I just LOVE these posts.

9 times out of 10 the sticker shock of paying any or all duties owed, is a lot less than folks imagine, and way less hassle.
looks like you still havent come out of your role of a Custom officer even after you left it. Here OP is just asking a general question about what info do the officers note down and you jumped to the conclusion that he was trying to fool the system and your advice about declare everything, blah blah...every honest citizen would give that advice, you dont need to be a custom employ.
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Sep 27, 2003
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PointsHubby wrote: I did contribute positive info...

Declare everything... And always tell the truth.

There is no scenario where that advice won't put you in good standing with Customs Canada.

Wanting to know specifically what is recorded by Customs from a receipt...

I can only think of one scenario where that matters... That of wanting to in someway defraud the system.

What is recorded by Customs should never matter to the individual if they have told the truth.

That is true on an initial crossing / declaration - a return - a warranty claim - or anything else (including an Appeal of a Custom's Ruling)

Your receipt from a US Retailer works exactly the same way one does in Canada from a Cdn Retailer.
Does the Access to Information Act allow me to obtain this information from times I've been sent in to pay for my declaration? Or is this considered a state secret that would not be shared.
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WorldIRC wrote: Does the Access to Information Act allow me to obtain this information from times I've been sent in to pay for my declaration? Or is this considered a state secret that would not be shared.
The info regarding the Access to Information Act can be found on the CBSA website:

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agenc ... o-eng.html
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Nov 25, 2014
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PointsHubby wrote: I did contribute positive info...

Declare everything... And always tell the truth.

There is no scenario where that advice won't put you in good standing with Customs Canada.

Wanting to know specifically what is recorded by Customs from a receipt...

I can only think of one scenario where that matters... That of wanting to in someway defraud the system.

What is recorded by Customs should never matter to the individual if they have told the truth.

That is true on an initial crossing / declaration - a return - a warranty claim - or anything else (including an Appeal of a Custom's Ruling)

Your receipt from a US Retailer works exactly the same way one does in Canada from a Cdn Retailer.
There was a specific question here that you proudly flaunted your choice not to answer - a mod calls you out and now you're pretending you're contributing. Talk about fooling only yourself. :facepalm:

You're probably the most qualified in this thread to be of actual assistance, but you've managed to be the least helpful - by choice. It's sad to see.

I wonder if "eventually everyone gets caught" is a two way street. When someone gives you a receipt of ~$100 of non-taxable groceries and you enter $200 of "carnival supplies" because you're tired and just want to get this over with (yes, this has happened), are you ever caught for illegally collecting? I'm guessing not. I too wonder what documentation is involved when officers pull figures out of their arses. But don't mind me, I'm obviously just a clown car smuggler trying to defraud the system.
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Actually, just like the ex-customs poster in this thread I'd also be suspicious because there's a "loooong story" behind this.

If I were to guess, it would be similar to what another poster guessed earlier. Have a fistful of receipts upon your return, its time to see how many items are subject to tax and if its worth pulling you in for. Another could be looking for a known pattern in declared items purchased that could lead to finding other items not being declared. If those lists of patterns exist, its understandable they will be on the DL.
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nmclean wrote: There was a specific question here that you proudly flaunted your choice not to answer - a mod calls you out and now you're pretending you're contributing. Talk about fooling only yourself. :facepalm:

You're probably the most qualified in this thread to be of actual assistance, but you've managed to be the least helpful - by choice. It's sad to see.

I wonder if "eventually everyone gets caught" is a two way street. When someone gives you a receipt of ~$100 of non-taxable groceries and you enter $200 of "carnival supplies" because you're tired and just want to get this over with (yes, this has happened), are you ever caught for illegally collecting? I'm guessing not. I too wonder what documentation is involved when officers pull figures out of their arses. But don't mind me, I'm obviously just a clown car smuggler trying to defraud the system.
It has always been up to the one presenting at the border to declare (and if necessary defend) their statement.

This is always done best by telling the truth, and showing appropriate paperwork.

If you felt that a Custom's Agent incorrectly charged you for importing goods, then it is up to you to defend your position (with paperwork). Preferably at the time of the actual transaction or thru the appeals process.

At Secondary, writing up a bill yes can be subject to human error (Customs Officers do make mistakes... Although I'm not as jaded as you make out that it is intentional. Otherwise they would not be on the line very long... They'd be out of a job / assigned elsewhere)

On the flip side...

Millions of Canadians cross the border annually... Most without issue.

However, there are definitely some who see Customs Agents as "the enemy" ... In their way to getting back home.

In reality a Customs Agent is just any other guy or gal doing a job, in this case keeping Canada safe.

Unfortunately, a proportion of those presenting themselves do so WITH THE INTENTION of providing a FALSE DECLARATION

For them, what a Custom's Agent records / believes is very important to them

When you tell the truth you don't worry a whole lot about the Custom's process... It is just routine

You come prepared with your original paperwork, know what you are declaring, it's worth, and how it fits into your allowances. Answer a few questions. Pay if anything is owed, and are on your way.

The only people who truly despise Customs, are those who have had a run in with them... Most often something that could have been entirely avoided if they were truthful and just followed the law.
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PointsHubby wrote: It has always been up to the one presenting at the border to declare (and if necessary defend) their statement.

This is always done best by telling the truth, and showing appropriate paperwork.

If you felt that a Custom's Agent incorrectly charged you for importing goods, then it is up to you to defend your position (with paperwork). Preferably at the time of the actual transaction or thru the appeals process.

At Secondary, writing up a bill yes can be subject to human error (Customs Officers do make mistakes... Although I'm not as jaded as you make out that it is intentional. Otherwise they would not be on the line very long... They'd be out of a job / assigned elsewhere)

On the flip side...

Millions of Canadians cross the border annually... Most without issue.

However, there are definitely some who see Customs Agents as "the enemy" ... In their way to getting back home.

In reality a Customs Agent is just any other guy or gal doing a job, in this case keeping Canada safe.

Unfortunately, a proportion of those presenting themselves do so WITH THE INTENTION of providing a FALSE DECLARATION

For them, what a Custom's Agent records / believes is very important to them

When you tell the truth you don't worry a whole lot about the Custom's process... It is just routine

You come prepared with your original paperwork, know what you are declaring, it's worth, and how it fits into your allowances. Answer a few questions. Pay if anything is owed, and are on your way.

The only people who truly despise Customs, are those who have had a run in with them... Most often something that could have been entirely avoided if they were truthful and just followed the law.
Another lengthy rant, and amazingly, anything resembling an actual answer to OP's question is still nowhere to be found.

Your bias is transparent. Notice how you are the only one being both defensive and accusatory here. Of course I haven't ruled out the possibility of BSOs making mistakes. You on the other hand have explicitly declared that there is no other possible explanation for this inquiry other than fraud, and reject the idea that a BSO could ever knowingly file something less than accurate without immediately losing his job.

Speaking of jumping to conclusions, I also like how you automatically assumed I'm "jaded" because I mentioned one negative example. Did I imply this was typical? No. Did OP or anyone else here describe CBSA as "the enemy"? No. Maybe it's you who's jaded from the job and you jump to conclusions as an excuse to vent your frustrations.

As for appeals, this is easy if e.g. the officer gave an incorrect valuation for the same item. But if it's something completely different, there is nothing to submit (you can't prove absence). This is why I'm interested in the agent's documentation requirements. If there is no strong requirement (as I suspect) and they are simply taken at their word until proven otherwise, then this is clearly a double standard - hence the "two way street" comment.

So one more time - are you going to answer the question, or just continue to rant aimlessly?

spooky wrote: Here is the information that you will receive from the CBSA if you use the Access to Information Act for your personal file:
https://www.thestar.com/news/privacy-bl ... -like.html
Unfortunately this seems to just be travel records, not customs information.
Last edited by nmclean on Aug 23rd, 2017 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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At the lane, I think CBSA fill out a yellow form. It's like a checklist:
1. resident/ non-resident/ other
2. length of stay : (example today)
3. declaration, value , none:
Goods
Currency
Commercial goods
Gifts
Firearms/ weapons (yes/no)
Food, plants, animals (yes/no)
Duty free (yes/no)
4. Immigration status
5. Remarks
6. Plate #, prov/state, time
7. BSO#/lane
8. Disposition - released, documentation check, enforcement action, return to US

The back of the form is a checklist for declared firearms, make, model, s/n, etc
[OP]
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spooky wrote: Here is the information that you will receive from the CBSA if you use the Access to Information Act for your personal file:
https://www.thestar.com/news/privacy-bl ... -like.html
Strange. Zero info about what was purchased, the value, or how much was paid in taxes. Again, strangely unhelpful but that's the government for you, I guess.
[OP]
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nmclean wrote: Another lengthy rant, and amazingly, anything resembling an actual answer to OP's question is still nowhere to be found.

Your bias is transparent. Notice how you are the only one being both defensive and accusatory here. Of course I haven't ruled out the possibility of BSOs making mistakes. You on the other hand have explicitly declared that there is no other possible explanation for this inquiry other than fraud, and reject the idea that a BSO could ever knowingly file something less than accurate without immediately losing his job.

Speaking of jumping to conclusions, I also like how you automatically assumed I'm "jaded" because I mentioned one negative example. Did I imply this was typical? No. Did OP or anyone else here describe CBSA as "the enemy"? No. Maybe it's you who's jaded from the job and you jump to conclusions as an excuse to vent your frustrations.

As for appeals, this is easy if e.g. the officer gave an incorrect valuation for the same item. But if it's something completely different, there is nothing to submit (you can't prove absence). This is why I'm interested in the agent's documentation requirements. If there is no strong requirement (as I suspect) and they are simply taken at their word until proven otherwise, then this is clearly a double standard - hence the "two way street" comment.

So one more time - are you going to answer the question, or just continue to rant aimlessly?




Unfortunately this seems to just be travel records, not customs information.
You're wasting your time with this person. Clearly zero intention of helping and has drawn negative prejudiced conclusions about me without any context whatsoever... but then again, that's what a customs agent kind of does. This poster seems unable to divorce these prejudices from the legitimate question I'm asking.

I just put him on ignore as he clearly has no intention whatsoever in being helpful in any, shape, or form. With attitudes like his, no wonder so many people see customs agents as enemies. :rolleyes:

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