Heads up for farmers, businesses about commercial imports from the U.S.

A farm couple who didn’t know about changes introduced in March 2016 
recommends getting an import number and filling out a B3 form in advance to save time

Roland farmers Bob and Shelley Bartley want to get the word out to fellow farmers and other business owners about paperwork changes when commercially importing from the United States.

Their advice is to get an importer and exporter number from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and do the paperwork in advance of importing goods. Even if you don’t plan to export, having an exporter number is necessary if you decide to ship back what was imported.

“We went down to Walhalla (North Dakota in August 2016) to pick up some parts,” Bob Bartley said in a recent interview. “Normally when you come back to the border with farm parts they don’t seem to worry too much about it. But as soon as we were in the door we had to fill out a form on every individual piece that we were bringing back as to where it came from (and its weight). There was a big book with all the code numbers for each part.

“Apparently you can do all this online so that when you get to the border you’ve got it all filled out and it’s not a big deal. But when you land there and it is all news to you it is a big deal.”

As of March 2016, Canadian businesses importing commercial goods from the U.S. must have an import number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It’s part of a policy that is being more strictly adhered to, following the auditor general’s report that identified inaccuracies in the proper accounting of commercial importations, Jacqueline Callin, a media relations officer with CBSA said in an email Sept. 14.

“As a result of this, farmers, as a commercial enterprise, need to correctly identify their imports as commercial goods and account for them in accordance with commercial accounting procedures,” she wrote.

“The importer will now have to complete a B3, Canada Customs Coding Form, instead of the B15 form.”

Because the Bartleys returned from the U.S. with their parts to the Winkler, Man. border crossing during business hours and had their farm business number with them, they were able to get an import and export number, which is added to their nine-digit business number, by phoning the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-5525.

“When we got that import licence number they (CRA) suggested we get an import and export number,” Bob said. “It is the same number but it gives you permission to export because if you import something and say it is damaged, or it’s not the right one and you have to send it back, then you’ve got to be able to export it. So we were able to do that all over the phone right from the border crossing.”

The process took more than two hours during the busy harvest time, Shelley said. The Bartleys want to get the word out so farmers get an import number and are able to fill out the necessary B3 form online before bringing parts back from the U.S.

“While we were there (at the border crossing) many other business people were picking up stuff across the line and just threw the paper on the (Canadian border official’s) desk,” Shelley said. “They stamped it and away they went.”

To get more information about an import number call CRA at 1-800-959-5525 or go online to the Canada Revenue Agency website.

About the author


Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.



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