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Old 29-10-2007, 12:16   #1
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Buying a Boat in USA to Bring to Canada

My husband and I are looking for our first boat and with the Canadian dollar being so good we are considering buying a boat in PA, NY or Michegan(since they are pretty close). We are looking at buying a Hunter...does anyone have any experience as to what we need to do to bring the boat across and what taxes, duties we might need to pay.

We are going to look at several boats this weekend in PA. Any advice for newbies? Thanks
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:31   #2
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Been there, done that, got the boat!

Did it a year ago almost to the day, bought a Catalina in Michigan. Simple process IF you buy a boat made in the USA (or Canada or Mexico as well I think), if not built in NA then you are going to be in for duty and it will be at whatever rate CBSA decides to levy. For NA built boats you will pay no duty, but you will get clipped PST & GST, no way you can get around it. You will need a bill of sale from the seller and that's all, I had clear title and previous owner registration documents but they weren't interested.

I am told that private sales are scrutinized more closely than if you have a bill of sale from a broker. If the selling value in a private sale looks low in their opinion they have the right to assess it at whatever they feel is right. We bought through a broker so it took about 5 minutes to do the paperwork no questions asked. We also didn't play silly buggar there is way too much paper trail to do that.

Went to Service Canada when we got her home, showed them the bill of sale and the receipt from CBSA showing taxes paid and walked out with a Canadian registration number, that cost zero dollars believe it or not a government service in Canada for FREE!!! At first they tried to stick me with some stupid rule that said I had to tell the previous registration authority the boat had been sold out of state, I refused to do that, in a nice way of course, and they said OK don't bother.

I used Bothwell Boat Works to haul her home, he did the brokerage at the border and all the paperwork for $100. Dave Kopriva is his name, very good to deal with. He is not my brother in law and I don't have any other relationship with him, his name was given to me by the selling broker. He has stout equipment can handle just about any boat and he got her home in great shape despite really nasty fall weather.

If you decide to sail her home you just phone CBSA at first port of entry and tell them what's up and where you're going and they will give you direction on what to do next, usually they just record your data and you can report to the CBSA office nearest to where you live and pay your taxes there.

Sure wish the buck had been where it is now last October! But still a sweet deal and I would buy a boat out of the US again in a heartbeat.
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:46   #3
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Thank you that is awesome information! Sounds pretty straight forward too! We are planning to buy a boat made in NA. Depends on where we buy it if we will maybe either ship it home or maybe hirer a captain to sail it over (we aren't knowledgeable enought to do it ourselves)
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Old 29-10-2007, 14:53   #4
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When importing a North American manufactured vessel (NAFTA) into Canada, from the U.S. you don't have to pay duty.
You do, however, have to pay all applicable PST and GST.
You may also have to pay the sales tax, for the state you purchased the vessel in. In most cases this state sales tax is voided if the vessel is removed from the sate within a set period of time.

Notwithstanding, I suggest that the best course of action is to discuss this
with CCRA/CBSA* and/or a qualified customs broker.

* Canada Customs Agency/Canada Border Services
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Old 29-10-2007, 19:03   #5
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Just bought my boat from US this year. There is no brainer to bring her into Canada. Like Gord said if you have a bill of sale it takes 5min to review then paying GST+PST. If you truck your boat the carrier is going to take care about the border crossing. If you decide to sail (as I did) you have to either notify CCRA/CBSA approximate 2 hours before docking in an entry point and they will tell you where to dock or when you arrive at a marina you have to call them from the nearest phone booth. They will collect all information over the phone and advise you what to do next. I sailed from Ohio to Georgian Bay and made landing in Sarnia. No problem whatsoever. They decided to see my boat so it took approximate half an hour.

I would also suggest that when you get all transaction papers to go to the nearest Services Canada and obtain an Ontario license number for your boat. It cost nothing and it takes five minutes and makes border crossing a pleasant event. In any case I suggest to pick one of the big border crossings. They have more staff there.

Good luck and welcome to the family.
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Old 29-10-2007, 19:10   #6
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A point of clarification. I have heard that there is no GST on a used boat but from what I've read you have to pay both PST and GST. Anyone know the correct answer?
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Old 29-10-2007, 19:34   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
A point of clarification. I have heard that there is no GST on a used boat but from what I've read you have to pay both PST and GST. Anyone know the correct answer?
Please read what I experienced three months ago.... unless the rules have changed recently.
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Old 04-11-2007, 21:06   #8
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One thing not mentioned above is that you should contact the US Coast Guard and advise them that the boat is being taken out of the US and re-registerd as a Canadian hull. That way they can remove the US registration from their records. If you buy it from a dealer they will most likely fill out the forms and forward them for you.
Cheers, J-G
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Old 05-11-2007, 05:18   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodz View Post
Please read what I experienced three months ago.... unless the rules have changed recently.

Your post doesn't say whether the boat was new or used. I know in buying cars there is no GST if you buy a used one from a private source (not a dealer). In addition I know of two cases where used boats were imported from the US where no GST was levied. That's what makes this subject confusing. The GST rules are a bit weird but application should not have changed over the years, just the amount has been reduced. As for PST, afaik this is still not administered by the federal government, so why would it be collected at the border which is run by the federal government. I have spent half an hour on the CBSA site but cannot find any definitive information.
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Old 05-11-2007, 06:41   #10
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The feds and the province talk

We were told we did not have to pay the PST when the boat crossed, but if we didn't we would for sure be hearing from the Ontario Ministry of Finance since they are notified by the Feds. It was just easier to get it all done in one shot. Also when the boat is registered the province is notified, they wanted a copy of my bill of sale and the receipt from CBSA when the boat crossed showing taxes paid so they wouldn't have to notify the province. The Feds and the Ontario government may not agree on much, but they do agree on making sure they squeeze every nickle that they can from us. I can understand their rationale on the taxes since it puts Canadians at a severe disadvantage if they didn't charge it.

I don't know about GST on private sales of boats bought in the US since we used a broker. I buy a lot of stuff from the US for my business and I am getting hit with PST and GST and an "admin charge" on most everything used or new or whatever by CBSA. Even items that are marked as "warranty return" are being opened by CBSA and taxes applied. Just had that happen on a traveller block that I had replaced by the manufacturer and the rotten buggars even added a duty levy because it was a "steel item". On a warranty replacement! Jeezus. I'm certainly not going to war with them over an improperly levied $12.65 charge, but free trade is not necessarily as free as we would like it to be.
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Old 05-11-2007, 11:33   #11
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WE are looking to buy a used boat (2000-2006) probably from a Brokerage dealer (at least that is the plan) I was a bit confused as well about the taxes because we were told by a broker in Toronto if we bought a used boat there was no GST only PST but from what everyone here is saying and from their personal experience when importing a boat you do pay GST not really sure why it changes....but either way just to be on the safe side we will factor it in to the costs.
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Old 05-11-2007, 11:49   #12
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Ask the horse

Hard to believe a Canadian broker would tell you that since those folks are the ones who most benefit from CBSA collecting tax on purchases from out of the country. You should figure on both taxes to be safe, if that doesn't happen, WooHoo!!

Maybe the best bet is to get it from the horse's mouth, here's the phone numbers for CBSA from their website:
Contact Us
Border Information Service

Calls within Canada
  • Toll-free
    • Service in English:
      1 800 461-9999
    • Service in French:
      1 800 959-2036
  • TTY within Canada
    For those with hearing or speech impairments
    • 1 866 335-3237
  • Calls outside of Canada
    Long distance charges apply
    • Service in English:
      • 204-983-3500
      • 506-636-5064
    • Service in French:
      • 204-983-3700
      • 506-636-5067

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Old 06-11-2007, 23:38   #13
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Vasco, the boat was used and I bought her from a brokerage firm. I do not know what agreement our provincial governments have regarding PST's but I know one thing - when you show at the border you will be asked to pay 14% if you are in Ontario. You may object if you like but whether you will succeed is problematic. I have to admit that I did not protested and did not questioned them "WHY??". I assumed that they know what they are required to do. I do not think they are doing it on their own initiative.

On the other subject, the boat was USCG registered and I had to sent a request to CG registration office a request to take her off the record as she was bought by a non-US citizen. The form was provided by a broker. This is my this year experience.

And one more note - I do not think that it matters for the Canadian government from who you buy a used boat. You will be treated the same way if you buy a boat from a private person or through a listing broker. Either way your contract will be with a boat owner.

For Reluctantsailor - do not worry .... factor in both taxes that you have to pay anyway and go for it!!! If do not pay you will spent your money on upgrading your boat. Enjoying sailing!!!

Chris
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:02   #14
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Just to ad more confusion to the soup. A person I know bought a boat in the US having an Alberta address( no PST) registered it as a Canadian boat (over 12M) Moorage is in the US but if he ever visits Canada with the boat he will have to pay GST.When he inquired about this from Canpass ( so called Canadian authority)he got several different answers. They don't even know what is right, legal, etc.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:52   #15
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Calling them does not help. It seems few of the CBSA agents have knowledge of importing boats. All the info I've received is anecdotal but since I know the persons I have no reason to not believe it. I guess the only way to find the truth is to read through the reams of legislation and regulations.
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