What are Duties and Taxes?

When transporting goods across international borders, shipments are subject to duties and taxes as determined by customs in the destination country.

Shipper’s Guide to Duties and Taxes

When shipping internationally it’s important to understand duties and taxes.
Whether a shipment is a gift or not, it must still go through an import procedure as determined by customs law in the destination country.
The calculation of duties depends on the assessable value of a dutiable shipment. For the purpose of this calculation, dutiable goods are given a classification code that is known as the Harmonized System code.
This system has been assigned by the World Customs Organization and continues to evolve.
The payment of duties and taxes are typically the responsibility of the receiver, although DHL Express does offer the opportunity for DHL account holders to pay for them.
In that case, after shipment delivery, DHL invoices customers for the duties and taxes we paid on their behalf at destination, plus a small administration fee.
Taxes are imposed on goods when they are moved across a political boundary (although some free trade zones exist around the world). Taxes are usually associated with protectionism, the economic policy of restraining trade between nations.
Taxes are usually imposed on imported goods, although at times may also be imposed on exported goods.

Receiver’s guide to Duties, Taxes and related Charges

Did you receive a package and need to understand your obligations to pay duties and taxes?
You may be charged customs duties and taxes for something purchased online because:
  • Duties and taxes are most typically not included in the price of the goods you purchase online, and might not be included in the overall shipping costs you pay to the online retailer.
  • When purchasing goods online, some or all of these goods may not originate in the country you reside in, therefore are subject to a customs duty, which is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders.
  • When transporting goods across international borders, shipments are subject to duties and taxes as determined by the destination country. Where DHL Express (Canada) provides customs clearance services, shipments are also subject to customs clearance service charges.
  • To ensure DHL Express (Canada) delivers your goods in the shortest possible time after entering Canada, DHL Express (Canada) provides customs clearance services for an additional charge.
  • As part of these services, DHL Express (Canada) pays the customs authority on your behalf any duties and taxes that are due on the goods. Once duties, taxes and customs clearance service charges are fully paid to DHL, the goods will be delivered to you.
  • What is payable, if anything, depends on where the goods are sent from, the type of goods, their transactional value and the weight of the package
  • If you wish to self-clear your shipment, please let us know by completing the Self-Clearance form and we will send you the paperwork you will need by email.
  • If you wish to appoint another broker to clear your shipment, please let us know by completing the Clearance by your authorized broker form and we will provide them with the paperwork required.
When buying goods online, you should always check whether they are either being sent to your address from:
  • Your country
  • Another country
  • Outside your customs union country
  • Note: Different rules apply when buying goods for commercial use.
A gift is defined as something sent directly by one private individual to another and such goods do not attract import tax if the value is below stated local thresholds.
Ordering and paying for goods that originate outside of your country or customs territory for shipping to a person other than the purchaser, does not satisfy the customs definition of being a gift.
For more information on importing goods into Canada for personal use please visit the Canada Border Services Agency’s website.
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