Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

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gabpower
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Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by gabpower »

Hello all! New user of this forum. I've been searching for a pinball machine for months and didn't find a lot of interesting ones in my area (Montérégie, Québec). I'd like to check what is for sale in the states not too far away but I wonder what to expect if I go this way. I already have a passport and I'm well aware of the low value of our dollar. Anyone whose done this can give me any tips?

Can the customs refuse that I go back in Canada with a pinball machine in my trunk? Especially if I don't have a receipt from a personnal sale.
How much are fees/taxes at customs? I can't tell from their website calculator if a pinball machine is considered an electronic device, a video game console or something else...
Anything important to consider?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by PinballJM »

you will need a receipt and they will charge you gst and pst that' s it
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by PinMeds »

You don't need the item classification as you are not filing your own import documentation. The customs officer will determine that for you. The main thing to make sure they understand is that the machine was made in the USA and is duty free as per NAFTA.

You will want a receipt however, even if it's hand drawn. A printout from an Ebay sale would also be accepted (if that's where it comes from) failing that, and they will charge Quebec sales tax (QST 9.75%) and 5% GST, or that of the province you're coming back to.

If you have no paperwork, they will assign a value (quite possibly from historic sales on Ebay), and may assign a higher value than you paid, depending on how good of a deal you got, and they can be a pain depending on the mood of the customs officer. Best policy is be prepared and be polite, even if the person you're dealing with has a bad attitude, and you should have no problems.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by flashinstinct »

1) have a receipt (mandatory) do not add the price you paid for shipping to the total only the price of the pinball. You don't get taxed on shipping fees.
2) pay the provinces' taxes rate
3) drive home and enjoy your pinball
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by RedFive »

This is not the first time this subject is discussed on this board, and I have seen similar discussion on other boards as well. From my personal experience, all of the above is true. I would like to add one factthat I have never seen anywhere here or on the other boards. I am not saying it is not present, I am just saying I have not seen it.

It is true that if you enter Canada through a province in which you are not a resident of, you will only be charged the 5% GST. If you enter Canada directly into the province you are residing in, you will be charged the 5% GST and the provincial tax (whatever % that may be). That should no be confused with duty charges. However, in the first scenario (entering through a province that is not your province of residence) you are expected to self declare to your province of residence and pay the provincial tax. If you don't, there is a possibility that the province comes back to you at a later time and collect the taxes plus the interests. In Quebec, that late collection is initiated with a <Projet de cotisation>. There is a form that you can fill to self-declare the import and, if you do it shortly after the import, you won't be charged any interest (I can't remember the number of days but it is no more than 30 days for sure) . I can't remember the number or name of that form. I can't say for sure if Ontario (or any other province) has the same process.

I have never had any issues crossing the borders (entering Canada) with pinball machines when I followed all that is mentioned above.

I hope this helps.


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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by flashinstinct »

RedFive wrote: It is true that if you enter Canada through a province in which you are not a resident of, you will only be charged the 5% GST. If you enter Canada directly into the province you are residing in, you will be charged the 5% GST and the provincial tax (whatever % that may be). That should no be confused with duty charges. However, in the first scenario (entering through a province that is not your province of residence) you are expected to self declare to your province of residence and pay the provincial tax. If you don't, there is a possibility that the province comes back to you at a later time and collect the taxes plus the interests. In Quebec, that late collection is initiated with a <Projet de cotisation>. There is a form that you can fill to self-declare the import and, if you do it shortly after the import, you won't be charged any interest (I can't remember the number of days but it is no more than 30 days for sure) . I can't remember the number or name of that form. I can't say for sure if Ontario (or any other province) has the same process.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by Chris Silver »

If you return to Canada through Ontario (depending on where in the states you go) you won't need to pay the qst I believe if required at all.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by Fifty »

I don't know if this has been pointed out, but it's always a good idea to have the name and phone number of the person you bought the pin from on hand. If it's a vendor then you just need the name of the vendor and their number. If it's a private sale I've actually had the Customs officer call the person to verify the price on the homemade invoice was the price I actually paid.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by cdnpinballer »

From experience you can expect to get treated as if you're a criminal.

If you ship a pin within the USA to a depot for example and the customs officer finds out about that then you will pay tax on the machine value AND shipping. I was so pissed when that happened to me. It's a fucking shake down money grab, no other way to describe it.

Also don't lie about the price you paid or make up a fake invoice etc... They may want to know who you bought it from and their contact information. If they call the individual and ask them how much you paid and the amount is different on the invoice you provide you will be up shits creek and blacklisted. I don't know this from experience but I have heard stories.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by TwilightZone »

cdnpinballer wrote:Also don't lie about the price you paid or make up a fake invoice etc... They may want to know who you bought it from and their contact information. If they call the individual and ask them how much you paid and the amount is different on the invoice you provide you will be up shits creek and blacklisted. I don't know this from experience but I have heard stories..
This advice cann't be stressed enough. I know of one collector that got black listed for a few hundred dollars. At the end of the day, it's not worth it. Be honest with the amount and all should go well. If you get black listed, that will haunt you for years. Every single time you go across the border. Better to factor in the cost of the HST as part of the cost of the machine. And they charge the HST on the adjusted rate, so it's

value of machine x exchange rate x HST

I've bought a few machines from the states. My experience has always been positive with no issues. I get a hand written receipt with the seller's name, address, and phone number on it. I let the seller know they may get a call. It's never happened, but I let them know they might get asked about the price.

It's not as bad as it sounds. It really should go smoothly. I even bought my RX7 from the States. That was alot more effort -- had to have paperwork filled out, go to specific station so they could inspect, etc. A pinball purchase is a walk in the park.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by Dave Astill »

Be truthful , they can and will take your phone and comb through your messages etc . this has only happened to me once but it was a little weird. I usually have my entire conversation with the seller printed out and use the back of that for a seller receipt. Do not say you are doing this for a commercial use. It gets a little confusing as these are commercial machines. Its your hobby .
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by RedFive »

Chris Silver wrote:If you return to Canada through Ontario (depending on where in the states you go) you won't need to pay the qst I believe if required at all.
As I mentioned in my post above, that is not exact: if you return through a province you do not reside in, they will not charge you the provincial tax at that time (that is : at the border crossing point, where you will pay GST). You are still expected to pay the provincial tax by self declaring to your province and pay the provincial tax that way. As pointed out by flashinstinct, it is not uncommon to be reminded later that provincial tax had to be paid and is still due.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by Hammerhead »

I would echo all comments above (except QST, don't know anything about that). I've only brought one machine across the border, but its one you don't see here hardly ever, it was a great deal, and it was when the CAD was closer to par with the USD, and I was grilled at the border by customs. Their biggest beef was the hand-written receipt and the fact I may have given a value less than what I purchased. In the end I got through, but it's a bit nerve-racking when they go through your truck, your bags, your computer, etc.

This is something else to consider; with prices being what they are these days, you will likely be into a lot more cash after the exchange rate and taxes are taken into account. In Ontario it works out to a 50% premium, not including shipping or your costs to pick the game up.

Unless its an absolute rarity or a must have, I would suggest waiting a bit longer and buying in Canada. As well, now that you're a member here, you'll see many more games up for sale than if you're just watching kijiji, ebay, etc.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by Mrhide »

They know about prices. Don't try to indeed bring a 5000$ pins for 2000$ ... you'll get rape for it.

Bottom line: Buy local :D
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by uberhare »

Mrhide wrote:They know about prices. Don't try to indeed bring a 5000$ pins for 2000$ ... you'll get rape for it.

Bottom line: Buy local :D
Or just be honest at the border with what you paid, and show your receipt. It also helps if you can A) show a copy of the original forsale ad. B) Have a currency exchange receipt for the value of US funds you purchased
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by gabpower »

All great answers! Thanks a lot.

I'll keep you posted if I find something worthy.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by shovelhed »

I brought back an arcade game and it was smooth sailing. Just be honest and it's like any other transaction. I could only show the ad I'd bought the game from on KLOV and that was enough for the customs agent. I paid tax on the game value and was off.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by Hammerhead »

shovelhed wrote:I brought back an arcade game and it was smooth sailing. Just be honest and it's like any other transaction. I could only show the ad I'd bought the game from on KLOV and that was enough for the customs agent. I paid tax on the game value and was off.
I brought an arcade machine over and they didn't even bat an eye. I brought a pinball over and they gave me the third degree.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by shovelhed »

It's odd how the experience can vary. I brought a Tron art package from Phoenixarcade and some Amazon dots from Og recently. I declared the value at 715 ish USD. Then my car was searched, and the cashier treated me a bit like I'd done something wrong when I was paying. It wasn't anything in particular that he said, just his general demeanour. Sort of sucks that it seems this is just how the border is, but the shipping saving make it sensible to go pick up. Shipping to Ottawa was $65USD, shipping to OG is free.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by pharoah007 »

There were 3 of us that got yanked aside last time we crossed the border.

2 of us kept calling the driver the "receipt Nazi" all weekend when we were in the states. the receipt Nazi was right on point tho.

We came back with a shit tonne of odds and ends and a pin. all receipts were hand written with phone numbers.

Duty dude asked us for receipts...we handed him about 30 of them. He also asked to see the phone of the dude who bought the pin for sales history. He went out to our Vech, had a look, came back in and said "thank you for making my job easy" We were out of there.

I do not remember if taxes were paid on the pin...but I paid nothing on all the junk I bought. I think we were all under the excepted amounts.

Moral of the story....be a receipt Nazi.

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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by SquidVicious »

flashinstinct wrote:1) have a receipt (mandatory) do not add the price you paid for shipping to the total only the price of the pinball. You don't get taxed on shipping fees.
2) pay the provinces' taxes rate
3) drive home and enjoy your pinball

I don't think item 1. is totally correct. By law I believe the shipping costs are part of the all in cost and you can be taxed on those (same thing with postage costs being included on things mailed to you and later taxed). I believe this would only apply if you were to ship to a depot close to the border on the US side and pickup there, that being said I'm not aware of anyone declaring those costs so you are likely fine not reporting them.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by spiroagnew »

SquidVicious wrote: I don't think item 1. is totally correct. By law I believe the shipping costs are part of the all in cost and you can be taxed on those (same thing with postage costs being included on things mailed to you and later taxed). I believe this would only apply if you were to ship to a depot close to the border on the US side and pickup there, that being said I'm not aware of anyone declaring those costs so you are likely fine not reporting them.
Shipping fees within the US are exempt from taxation when importing that item into Canada. Say you paid $1000USD for a pin, and had it palletted and shipped to your US address for $250USD, the value for tax would be calculated on the $1000USD only.... converted to Canadian funds of course.

ALSO, any US State sales taxes you paid can be taxed.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by SquidVicious »

spiroagnew wrote:
SquidVicious wrote: I don't think item 1. is totally correct. By law I believe the shipping costs are part of the all in cost and you can be taxed on those (same thing with postage costs being included on things mailed to you and later taxed). I believe this would only apply if you were to ship to a depot close to the border on the US side and pickup there, that being said I'm not aware of anyone declaring those costs so you are likely fine not reporting them.
Shipping fees within the US are exempt from taxation when importing that item into Canada. Say you paid $1000USD for a pin, and had it palletted and shipped to your US address for $250USD, the value for tax would be calculated on the $1000USD only.... converted to Canadian funds of course.

ALSO, any US State sales taxes you paid can be taxed.
If you are positive then I've been told the wrong thing at the border .. I've had things mailed to a mailbox in the US and at the crossing they've asked for the total cost of the item including shipping and then taxed on that amount .. perhaps things have changed but I'm fairly sure that is what happened to me.
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Re: Going to USA to buy a pinball and going back to Canada? What to expect?

Post by cdnpinballer »

As I alluded to above: I bought a pin from a guy in Ohio and had it shipped to a depot in New York State. When crossing the border with the pin the customs officer (CO) asked for the story and I told her the same thing. She asked how much the shipping was from Ohio to the NY depot and then she added that cost to the cost of the machine and then converted the total USD to CAD and taxed me on that amount so yes, you can be charged tax on shipping fees within the USA because I have had to pay those taxes and didn't want to fight with the CO at the border about it. I always take the path of least resistance in these cases because it's not worth it otherwise.

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