ebay + canada = fine?
April 5, 2006 12:33 PM   Subscribe

eBay filter: I have an item for sale and was asked whether I accepted bids from Canada. Should I?

This is my first eBay sale and I currently (be default I think) have shipping set to US only, through UPS. The item weighs less than 2lbs. Are the only things to worry about extra shipping costs and customs? I'm inclined to let the person bid, but want to know what, if anything, I'm getting myself into.
posted by whatitis to Shopping (16 answers total)
Never deal with the Canucks. They're a shifty bunch.

Seriously, though...I sold a camera to a guy in Italy a few years ago with no problem, and 2lbs should be nothing in terms of cost. The usual protocol is to get the buyer to pay shipping, anyways.

I shipped personal stuff back from Barcelona this Christmas, and on the customs form just wrote 'used personal goods' and it was fine.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:43 PM on April 5, 2006

UPS charges seriously hefty brokerage fees when delivering to Canadians, as I discovered when something I purchased through eBay arrived. (Ouch.) The only customs question is sales tax collected on the value of the goods, which the post office handles at the Canadian end without the usury of UPS (like, $5). None of this will impact you directly, but it may come as a shock to the buyer. Ship via parcel post to Canada if you're going to do it at all.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:44 PM on April 5, 2006

From what I understand you will have to fill out a customs form--a CN 22.
posted by govtdrone at 12:45 PM on April 5, 2006

If the item weighs less than 2lbs, the best and cheapest way to ship to Canada will be USPS. If you're not willing to ship it this way, then I wouldn't do it.

That having been said, if the bidder was savvy enough to ask before bidding, then they're probably going to be a good buyer. Make sure they are aware that they may be responsible for duties and taxes when the item is delivered, and make sure you work out the payment method in advance, but otherwise I'd say go adhead -- many of the best bidders I've worked with have been oh-so-polite Canadians.
posted by anastasiav at 12:48 PM on April 5, 2006

Are the only things to worry about extra shipping costs and customs?

Yes. It'll cost more, and you'll have to fill out a CN 22 — both addresses, quantity and description of contents, and USD value. If you're inclined to let him bid, go ahead. Add two dollars to your stated shipping charge.
posted by cribcage at 12:53 PM on April 5, 2006

I've had several canadian buyers ask me, post-sale, to declare the package as a gift so that they don't have to pay a duty on it. I wouldn't mind doing this for someone I knew, but I don't like to mess around with such shenanigans on an ebay transaction.

So, when people ask me if I ship to Canada, I say yes, but I warn them that I will declare the true contents and sale value of the package when I ship it.
posted by ulotrichous at 12:58 PM on April 5, 2006

As an e-bayer who's sent to Canada, DON'T use UPS. I'm not sure if the USPS gets some sort amnesty on paperwork being a quasi-government entity, but the customs forms I had to fill out for UPS were far more voluminous and annoying than the standard white form (which I think is 4 lbs and over, so may be able to use the little green one - even easier) at the Post Office for the exact same item.
posted by jalexei at 1:11 PM on April 5, 2006

Sell to Canada, sure. Just don't use a courier.

USPS stuff *may* get stopped by customs but couriered packages *always* do. They get hit with taxes (15% of declared value, in my provice), handling fee ($5, flat), customs/duty, and a customs brokerage fee.

Send by USPS.

As for the customs slip, some details:

I prefer if sellers mark the item as GIFT (I do whenever I ship to the USA) and put a low value on it.

Note that the declared value has NOTHING to do with the insured value. Both couriers and USPS allow the values to be listed independently. They have nothing to do with one another.

Also, just FYI, the USPS web site for calculating value on shipping is fucked. It's always very high (as much as 100% high). I've had people go there and find it costs $20 to ship a package and then they get to the post office and it's $6. Very unreliable.

Your best best is to say you will ship for cost plus X where X is whatever you want to charge for time/materials. So, exact cost plus $5 or whatever.

However, the above "send to Canada" comes with the caveat of checking out your buyer. Make sure they have positive feedback and if any of it's negative make sure it's not because they say a package didn't arrive that an american says they shipped.

I've done over 300 transactions to/from the USA and have never needed to use a courier. Also, never had a package get lost.
posted by dobbs at 1:37 PM on April 5, 2006

Oh, and if you need more incentive to send to Canada go to ebay.com and do a search for an item and search for "completed auctions" (option is in the left hand column).

Now, compare the final price on items sold only in the states to ones that sell to rest of world or Canada. The difference is usually significant.
posted by dobbs at 1:39 PM on April 5, 2006

Yes. It'll cost more

Not necessarily, I don't think. Can't you ship cheaper from, say, NY to Toronto than from NY to Texas? I could be wrong about this.
posted by dobbs at 1:44 PM on April 5, 2006

I buy US goods in US dollars to ship to Canada all the time. Paypal locks into Cdn banks and credit cards just as well as US ones, and the custom's fees are the buyer's problem, so the shipping only has to worry about filing out the form saying what's in the box accurately.

Anyway, I've never had a problem and can't see a reason (except perhaps price, as mentioned above, but I can't imagine why a larger market would in any way lower the price in an auction) not to ship/sell to Canada.
posted by tiamat at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2006

If the value of the item is small (lets say under 100) then regular mail won't be even sniffed at by the customs people. Thats my experience.
posted by maxpower at 1:56 PM on April 5, 2006

Weighing beforehand for one. Whatever you do, don't accept a check from a Canadian buyer, from my experience it will probably be a huge hassle if you got a check(I personally would only accept paypal, it's the easiest for both of you).
posted by drezdn at 2:22 PM on April 5, 2006

I've always accepted bids from worldwide. Obviously you should make clear that shipping abroad will cost more, but other than that the only hassle if someone foreign does win is filling out a customs label.
posted by cillit bang at 2:35 PM on April 5, 2006

I would be cautious on this one. I sold something to someone in Canda (I'm in the US) on the basis that the buyer would pay customs duties if required. I shipped it and assumed everythign was OK. Then about 3 months later, I got a letter from the shipping company saying that I owed them for customs duty. They had tried it collect it from the buyer, who had declined to pay it. The buy er has not responded to my emails. It seems that, whatever the arrangement you have with the buyer, the shipper is the person who is responsible for the customs fees...
posted by baggers at 3:45 PM on April 5, 2006

Canada doesn't charge duties on declared items worth less than C$20. They also don't charge duties on declared gifts worth less than $60. You may need to note the item and value (and gift status) on the outside of the package. UPS has the highest brokerage fees. The USPS and Canada Post have a reciprocal agreement and shouldn't charge you any brokerage fees if you're dealing with items within the above limits.

Make sure you specify that the buyer is responsible for shipping, brokerage, duty and any other fees. (I've had to pay brokerage fees on stuff shipped to me in Canada, but you don't want to find out you were wrong about not owing as the shipper.)
posted by acoutu at 10:16 PM on April 5, 2006

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