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Thread: Shipping Fabric ... USA to Canada ... some questions!

  1. #1
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    I'm wanting to order some fabric from a small designer/fabric company. It would be shipped from the USA to Canada, to get to me.

    While I know the price up front for the fabric and shipping, I am quite hesitant about the "unknown" when it crosses the border (ie duty/customs fees)

    While keeping it all honest and above board ... Are there any hints as to how to keep those unknown fees to a minimum? I'm thinking here that there may be a weight limit that is best to stay under? or perhaps dollar value?

    What is the max that I might get hit with re customs/duty? (per centage?)

    How long does it usually take from the USA shipping date, to pass thru customs and get delivered here in Canada?

    Is the best shipping method via Postal Service? or what should be used?

    Any other suggestions you can offer are most appreciated!
    Please? and Thanks!!

  2. #2
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    Customs is real iffy. I bought some rotary blades paid $20 shipping,got dinged at door for $6 more. I used ups. Just use regular mail. I've received items in about 10 days to 6 wks. :shock:

  3. #3
    Super Member quilterella's Avatar
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    A box of 5 fatquater bundles took 15 days to reach me from the USA. This was late last November, but the duty was a whopping $68.00, and they sent it by postal service. I don't know what to say, if you choose FedEx or UPS, you are charged all duty and extras at the start, so no surprises, although it is alittle more costly. If you choose postal service, you get charged duty and wait longer. You don't mention where you are in Ontario, but, I find, you are going to pay, one way or the other.

  4. #4
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    As much as I am tempted, the extras amount to enough tocancel out my savings. I would not hesitate if it were something I could not get in Canada, then I would overlook the extra charges, just because I wanted it or maybe 'needed' it.

  5. #5
    Super Member quilter1's Avatar
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    I have better luck with the mail, as opposed to FedEx or UPS. Sometimes the package through the mail will just go through, no extra customs fees. Occasionally a package will get stopped and you will have to pay more fees. I received a package this week from the US in 6 days, no extra charges.

  6. #6
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    We lived in Canada for 4 years, so I understand your frustration. One shipment would come custom-free, but the next (same thing, same packaging, same carrier) would be charged. We avoided mail order from the US as much as possible. (I wasn't a quilter then so it was easier to avoid.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member quilter on the eastern edge's Avatar
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    I have ordered from the US on occasion and the orders have been relatively small - usually padded envelopes of fabrics rather than boxes. I haven't had to pay extra on any of these shipments .... so far. It usually takes 3 weeks for me to get my orders.

  8. #8
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by judylg
    As much as I am tempted, the extras amount to enough tocancel out my savings. I would not hesitate if it were something I could not get in Canada, then I would overlook the extra charges, just because I wanted it or maybe 'needed' it.
    I totally agree wth you on this ...... though it's stories like Quilterella's that scare the living daylights out of me for ordering and shipping it through to me.

    A surcharge of $68 for 5 FQs, would take the joy out of the goodies without a doubt. And I'm looking at a larger order than 5 FQs.

  9. #9
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    I get some fabric from the US mostly Fat quarters. I don't use UPS as they have automatic extra charges. I did get a large order once and got dinged by customs. I am not sure if it was the declared worth of the fabric , about $70 or the weight that set off the alarm bells! Since then I have large orders broken up into two or three this means more postage but less chance of customs seeing red flags.. I try to get the sellers to send in a large envelop not cardboard. But sometimes it seems the luck of the draw.

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    If you're anywhere near the border (I'm not far from Toronto), it may be worthwhile to get a US post office box. We've got one, as my husband lives & works in Austin, and this way I can bring anything I purchase back over the border myself, and show Customs the actual receipt and product, and they tell me exactly how much I need to pay - not the guestimating that the mail offices use. (The UPS Store in Lewiston will even receive one-off packages for a $10 fee, without having to have a box, you just have to contact them first.)

    UPS is by far the worst when it comes to cross border fees. Fedex is marginally better. USPS is best, but still not great (The others use a broker which "estimates." Yeah. If you buy less than $20, there shouldn't be any custom fees if that value is marked on the waybill. (DO NOT try to get companies to declare that whatever you purchased is less than $20 if it's not. They get in serious trouble, and so do you - we used to have customers try to get us to do that all the time.)

  11. #11
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecmoore
    (DO NOT try to get companies to declare that whatever you purchased is less than $20 if it's not. They get in serious trouble, and so do you - we used to have customers try to get us to do that all the time.)
    Thanks for the hints ... Not to worry! as I mentioned in the beginning I'm only interested in doing it above board and fully legit! It's not worth the risks to myself, or the shipper.

  12. #12
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    No problem. Having my husband in Austin and me here has resulted in some seriously weird customs issues - I try to help wherever I can.

    Oh - one thing to remember is that if you're ordering a sewing machine, or sewing machine parts, you are essentially duty free - if it's made in a most favoured nation. So my bernina parts (Switzerland) are essentially duty free, all I have to do is pay GST. And the feet are about half the price they are in Ontario.

  13. #13
    Senior Member sammygirlqt's Avatar
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    I can't believe the extra charges some of you are paying. I shop US online all the time. Cotton is under the US/Canada free trade agreement so there should not be duty on cotton fabric. I have shopped online for years and have only paid a fee for customs to check my parcel. The shops usually ship in a USPC priority envelope or box. You can get 7 yds of cotton in an envelope and (I think 23 yds) in a box. If a shop uses a broker such as Fedex, I don't shop there. Fedex will surcharge your shippment. It is cheaper to get 2 priority envelopes than a box and customs don't seem to pick up the envelopes as much a s the boxes. My orders often range $50 - $75. I get my shippments 2 weeks to 21 days.

  14. #14
    Senior Member fatquarters's Avatar
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    UPS has very high rates, postal service is much better for cost. It will probably take about two weeks and if your order is under $50 there will not be any extra charges, $50-100, maybe a bit(under$20) , and if you spend over $100, you will surely have to pay. In my experience, as a quilted and a postal worker, it's usually well worth ordering from the US. They have much cheaper pricing and the shipping charges aren't too high

    However we do have some nice shops here in Canada if you can find what you need. it is a good option to shop locally.

  15. #15
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    [quote=QuiltE]
    Quote Originally Posted by judylg


    A surcharge of $68 for 5 FQs, would take the joy out of the goodies without a doubt. And I'm looking at a larger order than 5 FQs.
    That's what I thought she said too, and I thought it was outrageous, but what she actually said was 5 FQ **bundles**. I don't know how big a bundle is, but I'm guessing at least 10 FQ's. $68 still seems like a hefty tariff... hey, how many FQ's in a bundle?

  16. #16
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    Aha. Cotton is under NAFTA if it's made or woven in the North America. The origin is what's important here, and what's done where. Woven in North America from "domestic" thread, or *sometimes* woven in north america from raw materials from elsewhere. (Egyptian Terry Cloth Towels are under Nafta if they're woven in Canada, but not if they're woven in Egypt and "Finished" in Canada, for example.) There's very little fabric made in North America. Moda, which is made in (IIRC) korea, or the beautiful Bali batiks I'm so addicted to, wouldn't count. IIRC, Connecting Threads is made in mexico, and that would be considered duty free.

    (I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the production of men's boxer shorts in the research on this topic. Fascinating stuff, really.)

    As an aside, this is why VERY few stores in Canada offer FQ bundles. I tried to special-order moda's Hometown and was quoted $180 for the bundle, largely due to the duty. This is why our fabric prices are so damn expensive, we basically pay either way.

    That being said, for those near the border:

    If you stay down for 24 hours (or less, most border guards don't care_, you can bring back $50 worth, duty free, regardless of origin.
    If you stay down for 48 hours, you can bring back $450 worth of stuff.
    If you stay down for 48 hours - 6 months (the max time you can spend in the US as a visitor without a visa) you can bring back $750 worth of stuff.

    This is per person, not per vehicle. So if my mom, my best friend, and I all go to visit my husband for a week, we can bring back $2250 worth of fabric, duty free. If we bought $3,000 worth of stuff, we would pay duty and taxes (yay hst! - Don't forget, on top of canadian fabric prices, our sales tax in ontario is 13%) on $750.

    When I go visit the Texan, I pack the car FULL for my return trip. Last time I had bolts of W&N, and it gave the border guard fits. She couldn't figure out why I would do that. I explained that $5 a yard is significantly less than the $17 / yard I pay at Len's for the same stuff.

  17. #17
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    If you can get it to me BEFORE Sept. 1st, I'll be headed to Ottowa, Canada area next day. I can post locally once there. That might give you some time to figure out all of the logistics for next time.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Aully's Avatar
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    I always order from the US, I have only a few times had to pay fees.

    It also depends on who you order from, I order from Marshall Dry Goods all the time and Scott takes care of the fees on his end so when it arrive to me I do not pay anything. He ships with USPS only.

  19. #19
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    Aully,
    Thank you for this info. This is the type of info. we need.

  20. #20
    Senior Member quilting.addict's Avatar
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    If this "made in the USA" and being cotton makes the difference in large fees or no fees, this is important info
    Answer to this question posed to the company that produces my custom designed fabrics:
    Are your fabrics from mills in the USA?
    All of our fabrics are from American mills with the exception of the fleece and suede which has been shipped from China. Though it's been in the US since last year, and is applying for citizenship.

    That was an important factor to me when I chose who would produce my designer fabric. I had no idea how expensive the shipping could be to Canada. I also know that my manufacturer can fit up to 8 yards in an envelope. Sounds like that's the best way to go when passing through the customs procedure.
    Jeannie
    Head over Heels!

  21. #21
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quilting.addict
    If this "made in the USA" and being cotton makes the difference in large fees or no fees, this is important info
    Answer to this question posed to the company that produces my custom designed fabrics:
    Are your fabrics from mills in the USA?
    All of our fabrics are from American mills with the exception of the fleece and suede which has been shipped from China. Though it's been in the US since last year, and is applying for citizenship.

    That was an important factor to me when I chose who would produce my designer fabric. I had no idea how expensive the shipping could be to Canada. I also know that my manufacturer can fit up to 8 yards in an envelope. Sounds like that's the best way to go when passing through the customs procedure.
    Jeannie
    Head over Heels!
    This makes me smile, to see Jeannie, signing off as Head Over Heels!! :)



    Everyone else ... wow! a lot of food for thought there. I think we all learned something and I learned a LOT! I'm not normally an online shopper or cross border shopper, thus my lack of knowledge in this whole subject!

    Thanks!!! .... we'll see how the adventure goes! :)

  22. #22
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    We always ship internationally through the Post Office, because there are no additional brokerage fees assessed. UPS and FedEx, as others mentioned, do charge those fees, which can be quite hefty! If the customer does not pay the fees, they bounce back to the shipper... and I found that out the hard way once! So it's ONLY USPS, the Post Office, for international orders, from now on.

    That said... there is no package tracking available for those economical USPS flat-rate envelopes, either. And while *most* of them do get delivered just fine, occasionally one goes missing. It is a big world out there! So if you're buying internally, it's important to check to see if the merchant is providing you with insurance. It is important to note that USPS does not offer any insurance on the flat-rate envelopes, so merchants have to buy it from a third party, such as Shipsurance.

    In case you're wondering, we insure all of our international packages through either Shipsurance or USPS, because we don't like unpleasant surprises any better than our customers do!

  23. #23
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    We always ship internationally through the Post Office, because there are no additional brokerage fees assessed. UPS and FedEx, as others mentioned, do charge those fees, which can be quite hefty! If the customer does not pay the fees, they bounce back to the shipper... and I found that out the hard way once! So it's ONLY USPS, the Post Office, for international orders, from now on.

    That said... there is no package tracking available for those economical USPS flat-rate envelopes, either. And while *most* of them do get delivered just fine, occasionally one goes missing. It is a big world out there! So if you're buying internally, it's important to check to see if the merchant is providing you with insurance. It is important to note that USPS does not offer any insurance on the flat-rate envelopes, so merchants have to buy it from a third party, such as Shipsurance.

    In case you're wondering, we insure all of our international packages through either Shipsurance or USPS, because we don't like unpleasant surprises any better than our customers do!
    Thanks for the further info and insurance concerns, FF!

    I had been wondering with your proximity to the border that you might be driving it across, and sending via mail/courier on this side. I know some of the companies near the border do that, to "know" it's cleared customs and truly on the way to the purchaser.

  24. #24
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    We don't drive our packages across the border, though we are only a half-hour away (not counting bridge delays)...

    We are always asked, when we visit Canada, if we are bringing any goods into the country. Betcha we would open a can of worms if we said yes!

    Seriously, it probably would not be worth the time and money (gas and bridge fees) to carry the packages across and ship them from the Canadian side. We would have to charge for the time spent doing that, and I don't think that our customers would come out ahead if we did that. Plus I don't need anything else added to my "to-do" list right now! :wink:

  25. #25
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Totally understand ......... unless the volume justifies, it would make no sense at all!

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