Canada-USA Customs Question

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olkofri

Lifer
Sep 9, 2017
7,570
12,989
The Arm of Orion
I am not concerned about this. There have been hundreds of posts asking this same question and receiving similar answers over the past decade across various forums, FB, reddit, etc., and it hasn't amounted to any noticeable crackdown. Any competent or driven agent would be able to use a simple Google search to quickly come up with a list of companies to flag. This has not happened.

If the Gov't really wanted to act, they'd be tagging every SP package that crossed the border. As it is, this doesn't happen. In all my experience, I got tagged half the time (I have terrible luck). My buddy has ordered nearly monthly for a few years from them, and only gets hit about 10% of the time. I mean, SP is very clear what they are sending and it is in the name, yet they aren't persecuted extensively.
As a matter of fact it HAS HAPPENED. A couple of businesses who were being, shall we say, economic with the truth in customs forms, got their parcels sent back by the CBSA along with a cease and desist or else letter. Some members here remember that crackdown because they had parcels that never made it to them and had to sort it out with the vendors.

If the PTB doesn't tag every SPC package is because SPC has been fully declaring the contents (they were not one of those couple of businesses referred to in the previous paragraph), a reason why they aren't being persecuted.
 

jiminy

Starting to Get Obsessed
Apr 27, 2017
226
418
Saskatchewan, Canada
As a matter of fact it HAS HAPPENED. A couple of businesses who were being, shall we say, economic with the truth in customs forms, got their parcels sent back by the CBSA along with a cease and desist or else letter. Some members here remember that crackdown because they had parcels that never made it to them and had to sort it out with the vendors.

If the PTB doesn't tag every SPC package is because SPC has been fully declaring the contents (they were not one of those couple of businesses referred to in the previous paragraph), a reason why they aren't being persecuted.
Interesting, I stand corrected. Can you give me an approximate timeline of when that happened (year)?

Regarding the tagged packages from SPC... it was my understanding that any importation of tobacco into Canada via the mail is subject to duties. Now I know it used to be 200g or under was fine, but I heard that was no longer the case, or am I mistaken about that? If I am, then I got tagged illegally on a SPC package a couple years ago, because I was certainly under that.
 

olkofri

Lifer
Sep 9, 2017
7,570
12,989
The Arm of Orion
Interesting, I stand corrected. Can you give me an approximate timeline of when that happened (year)?

Regarding the tagged packages from SPC... it was my understanding that any importation of tobacco into Canada via the mail is subject to duties. Now I know it used to be 200g or under was fine, but I heard that was no longer the case, or am I mistaken about that? If I am, then I got tagged illegally on a SPC package a couple years ago, because I was certainly under that.
Yes, all imports of tobacco are subject to duties. That sometimes the officers waive said duties is a happy happenstance but should never be assumed to be the norm.

The 200g limit applies ONLY to people coming back to Canada after a stay abroad longer than 5 days—basically the PTB designed the rules so that people just wouldn't drive over the border and buy duty free; it's NOT for those inside the country ordering by mail from a foreign vendor.

The "tactic" of keeping one's purchases to a few tins (1-4) is not to stay under a given limit –for there is none as it is ALL subject to duties and taxes–, but to try to keep the amount of duties relatively small in case the officer decides to charge duties, and/or to "gamble" the system a bit: assuming the MO of the officers is to not bother with small parcels that would net them very few duty money and which might get refused by the receiver should the duties be high, and to aggressively charge large parcels because they assume the buyers must need them so bad they'll neither contest nor return them and thus pay whatever amount they get dinged with.

The whole issue with the letters from the CB$A happened at the end of AD 2018. Things have only gotten worse since: it's no secret that Canada's current administration is extremely voracious for money and it's levying taxes and duties and all kinds of fees left and right. When they came into power in AD 2015 one of the first things they did was hire an army of officers for the CRA and probably other agencies as well, in order to make sure no taxes were left unpaid; that, AND to increase the taxes on tobacco and alcohol, with the taxes on the latter being permanently tied to inflation, so that they only get higher every month. Parcels that used to be left alone, suddenly started getting dinged left and right. I mentioned before here or in another thread that my last purchase from SPC was dinged for CENTS. Yes! You read correctly: they charged only cents in duties just so that they could charge the processing fee and the taxes on said fee. It's a major shake down!
 
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Casual

Lifer
Oct 3, 2019
2,578
9,366
NL, CA
The only complaint I have with smokingpipes.com is that their labeller will declare a 50g (1.75oz) tin on the customs form as 2 oz. That will get picked up as 57 grams once converted back to metric.

And since some of the taxes are charged as ”$x per 50g or part thereof,” adding 7 phantom grams to the declaration results in us paying duty on tobacco that wasn’t even sent.

But I’ve been lucky so far to encounter relatively little Customs nonsense.
 

brian64

Lifer
Jan 31, 2011
7,878
8,302
S'ok, all of these taxes we pay for gov't services that aren't even provided.
Actually it's worse than that:
TAX+200.jpg
 

SpyHill

Might Stick Around
May 3, 2022
57
66
Victoria, BC
I thought I'd write a quick update now that I've gone over the border and back.

I picked up three tins of tobacco in Post Falls, ID. Cornell & Diehl's White Label and Red Label, and GL Pease's Penny Farthing. I wanted to try a Virginia Perique, and the C&D was affordable. In total, I picked up 171g of pipe tobacco.

I went to some tiny outpost at the Montana-Sask border and declared my three tins (I did not declare my personal stuff, as I was not importing that). There was no duty for the tobacco I declared because I was out of country for 48hrs + (he just took my word on that, but it was true). Then I was selected for a random search.

I showed the border guard my personal tobacco first thing, then he did his search. At the end, he said that in the future they want to know about all tobacco I'm travelling with, even if I bought it in Canada. He was very polite and trusted that I wasn't trying to pull a fast one. They weren't out to get me, that's for sure. They took my word that it was personal stuff and didn't ask for proof. They didn't even look inside my plastic bag of declared tobacco -- he just took my word that it was three tins.

Overall, a good experience at the border. I could have brought much more tobacco in (using my wife's allowance), and I wish I had.

Cheers.
 

abridgedpause

Lurker
Jan 9, 2018
6
7
Canada
I live in Canada and have been ordering bulk tobacco from SPC since 2017. Up until this year, they shipped all bulk tobacco and samples of 8oz and under in bubble mailer envelopes and I was never charged duty (I got lucky). Whenever I ordered tins, or over 8oz, they would ship it in cardboard boxes and I knew I would have to pay duty (80% of the time I would be charged duty). This year, SPC started shipping everything in cardboard boxes, and I'm even getting charged duty on a 2oz sample order. These huge boxes with just a 2oz sampler, it's a total waste packaging.

I do recommend that everyone always contest/dispute the duty though because they are not consistent or accurate, even when it says package open. I ordered twice the same exact 8oz tobacco, one week apart, last month and the second one arrived with twice the amount of duty charged, which made no sense whatsoever. They both should have had the same duty amount.