What is a Non-Resident Importer (NRI)?

An NRI is a foreign-based company, often from the U.S., that does not have a permanent presence in Canada but imports into Canada under its own company name. BILSI can act as the customs broker for shipments into Canada by an NRI.

Why become an NRI?

By becoming an NRI, U.S. exporters can exercise more control over their supply chain into Canada without having a physical presence in Canada. An NRI can provide its Canadian customers with a landed cost of goods including all duties and taxes, and thus be competitive with Canadian suppliers. The NRI imports the goods, and then ships them to the customer from within Canada.

If a foreign company (E-Commerce retailers as an example) simply ships to Canada without handling the importation, the Canadian customer must pay all duties and taxes, which are collected by the shipping company. The shipping company acts as customs broker, charging the customer a substantial fee on top of the duties and taxes. Canadian consumers dislike surprise charges such as taxes and fees on top of the price they have already paid the vendor, they would prefer to know them up front so that they can make an informed purchase. As a result, most Canadian consumers avoid ordering goods from outside Canada unless they can see that the goods will be shipped from within Canada and that the vendor will take care of duties and taxes.

BILSI can handle the importation for you and can re-ship your goods, on your behalf, to your Canadian customers, so that they will not face extra charges.

By using one customs broker to clear all shipments to Canada, regardless of the final delivery address, an NRI can eliminate border delays.

How do I become an NRI?

To become an NRI you need only obtain a Business Number (also known as an Importers Number)

A BN is a 9-digit number used by the Canadian government to identify your business, plus an additional two-letter code for the type of account (“RM” for import/export, “RT” for GST), and 4 digits (usually “0001”) for the sub-account.

BILSI can assist you in obtaining a BN. You can find a blank form [HERE]

If we are an NRI, how does the GST work?

If you are an NRI, then GST will be collected at the border on all shipments into Canada. BILSI will prepare all the necessary Customs paperwork for you.

If you are registered or plan to register for GST then you must show GST on all sales made in Canada. You can then claim ITCs to recover all the GST you pay on importations or on other charges to you from Canadian suppliers.

You will not be double-taxed. You will pay GST to Canada Customs on importations, but you recover all of that GST paid when you file your GST return if you are registered or, in the delivered price to your client (flow through).

Are there any other Canadian taxes?

In five Canadian provinces, the GST is called the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST): Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. When you ship goods from within Canada to customers in an HST province, you charge HST instead of 5% GST. If you ship goods from outside Canada to customers in an HST province (“casual imports”), then HST must be applied instead of GST. If instead you are shipping goods to a business, then only GST applies, and you will pay only the 5% GST on imports (and which, as noted above, you recover by way of Input Tax Credit or flow through).

Several provinces have a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on goods sold in the province. The PST may apply to casual imports, but again does not apply to your commercial imports. You may have to collect/pay PST on sales, depending on what province you are shipping from. BILSI can assist you with this process.

How do we determine the customs value of our products?

There are several methods for determining the accurate value of imported products. The most common method for calculating value is referred to as the transactional value of price paid or payable for the goods. In general, the value is determined based upon your selling price to your ultimate Canadian customer excluding taxes, duties, and freight, all based upon the exchange rate on the day shipment started to Canada.

Will there be customs duties assessed on our products?

Duty applies to most foreign-made products entering Canada. However, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other international agreements, duty is often eliminated or reduced. If you have a NAFTA Certificate of Origin for your imported goods, no duties apply.

BILSI will pre-rate all of your products so that you can incorporate the duties into your cost of goods.

What is a NAFTA Certificate of Origin and does it apply to our products?

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is used to prove that an importer’s goods qualify for duty-free entry. If your North American manufactured goods meet the NAFTA criteria, your goods will be eligible for duty-free entry into Canada. (However, the GST/HST will still apply, except on certain specific goods such as most groceries and medical devices.)

What Customs documents are required for importations?

The most important document you will require is a Canada Customs Invoice (CCI). If no CCI is available, a commercial invoice listing the parties to the sale will be required. This invoice must include specific information such as country of manufacture, Harmonized Tariff classification code, value, quantity, etc. For certain goods, import permits may also be required before the items can enter Canada.

BILSI can prepare CCIs based on your commercial invoices, and can obtain import permits for you where needed.