Nothing is "free".  Sample and free goods must be treated the same as any commercial good.  All incoming shipments are considered an import.

If the university is identified as the "Importer of Record" by the supplier/shipper, we are obligated to declare sufficient and correct data on all customs documentationFailure to do so may result in border delays, seizure of goods, monetary fines and increased border scrutiny. The same requirements apply for exporting goods.

If the supplier/shipper chooses to take full responsibility for the shipment - including payment for customs clearance, duty and taxes, they should identify themselves as the "Importer of Record" on all the customs documentation.  This means that there should be no cost to the university and the university has no obligation to provide customs clearance.

EXAMPLE A "free" book sent as a gift due to an article contribution or for review purposes  The word "free" or "no charge" in the context of customs, is a misconception.  The proper customs clearance procedure requires the book to be assessed for taxes on the full retail value and it will also attract a brokerage services charge for handling the customs clearance.  Problems result if the paperwork for the book includes the wrong description of the goods or a zero or nominal value.

Document Requirements

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) requires all imports and exports to have the following supporting information on the customs documentation:

  • Fair market value of the goods - defined as the dollar value of the items in a commercial transaction i.e. the cost of purchasing the items in the market at the time of import or export.  There are several ways to determine the value of goods:
    1. The transaction value method
    2. The valuation by reference to the transaction value of identical goods
    3. The valuation by reference to the transaction value of similar goods
    4. The deductive method of valuation
    5. The computed method of valuation
    6. The residual method of valuation.
  • Accurate description of the goods.
    EXAMPLE - "test tube cleaner" rather than "lab equipment".
  • Country of manufacture (origin).
    EXAMPLE - goods manufactured in Malaysia but shipped from the U.S., means that the country of origin is Malaysia.

If the requirements above are not met, it may be necessary to amend the customs documentation.  The paperwork for these transactions must be maintained for seven (7) years.


Contacts for further information:

University of Saskatchewan
Purchasing Services
Gord DeClerq
Tel:  (306) 966-6713
Fax:  (306) 966-8342
Email:   gord.declerq@usask.ca

Thompson, Ahern & Co. Ltd.
6299 Airport Road, Suite 506
Mississauga, ON L4V 1N3
Tel: 1-866-778-4460
Fax: 1-866-769-4760

Fely Jamieson
Tel: 1-866-778-4460 ext. 5497
Email: usask@taco.ca