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Canadian Customs broker vs in-land bonded warehouse | Auto Shipping from USA to Canada

When shipping a vehicle from the USA to Canada, three options for Canadian customs clearance exist. The importer may

  • Be present at the border at the time of crossing and clear the vehicle in-person at the border.
  • Allow the vehicle to be shipped “in-bond” to a Canadian customs bonded in-land warehouse and then may clear the vehicle at the warehouse or near the warehouse.
  • Utilize the services of a Canadian customs broker to clear the vehicle on their behalf.

Our preference is to utilize the services of a Canadian custom’s broker to clear the vehicle on behalf of the shipper. These brokers are experienced in vehicle clearances and can streamline the process allowing for smoother transitions at the border. Typically a Canadian customs broker charges between C$150 – c$250 to clear the vehicle. Even though we highly recommend the use of a customs broker, this option may not be available to all importers. Shipments associated with personal relocations, e.g., immigrations or work/ student visas, cannot be cleared by a customs broker. The shipper needs to make a declaration in person in front of a CBSA officer. In such a case, the vehicle is best shipped to an in-land bonded warehouse closest to where the importer resides.

The Canadian customs bonded in-land warehouses are normally third party warehouses that meet all CBSA bonded-facility requirements. Most do not have CBSA officers on-site. As such, clearances take a little longer at these facilities and may require the shipper to make multiple visits to the bonded warehouse and associated CBSA office. In addition, these warehouses charge a facilitation fee and a storage fee, which can become quite exorbitant. These facilities are also only available in the larger metropolitan centers.

The last option is to be present at the border at the time the vehicle arrives at the border for crossing. This is the most impractical option and is only valid if the shipper is driving the vehicle across the border and not shipping it.

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