Trade Shows and exhibiting in the United States has become an essential part of business and with it comes a lot of planning and preparation. As with many of us, those preparations can sometimes go to the very last minute but if you are planning on exhibiting in Canada you will want to start your preparation earlier so you have the time needed for getting your booth across the border, or maybe you should rent.
This past summer we had a client attend their first Trade Show in Canada and they were quite surprised about the customs process and the additional fees. Typically the shipping and drayage of your exhibit will be about 10% of your budget then with any Trade Show in another country there are customs fees for getting your exhibit to the show that will need to be added. There are ways to minimize those fees depending on what country you are exhibiting. For example, when exhibiting abroad in Europe or Asia you have the option to “build and burn” to avoid the customs and other fees, this however is not an option for exhibiting in Canada. So how can you minimize these fees when exhibiting at our neighbor’s house?
Every country has their own set of duties and regulations, so it is important that you do not try and take any short cuts as this will create an incredible amount of stress and headaches.
The first step is to ensure that the show you are attending is registered with Canada Customs. Once the show manager has registered the show Canada Customs will notify their offices at the points of entry, so when your shipment arrives it will be eligible for “on-site customs clearance” which can eliminate the delays in getting your shipment to the show site. It is important that you still allow extra time for customs as they are required to inspect random shipments, so shipping early to the advanced warehouse is the most ideal.
Any shipment crossing the border must be accompanied by a variety of customs paperwork and which forms you need to have filled out will depend on where your exhibit will be shipped to after the event. If you will be shipping your exhibit to another country you will need to fill out a different form than if you are shipping your booth directly back to the US after the event. In either case, all your documentation must also include a commercial invoice that must have the “ship to” address, the total value of goods (including booth materials, graphics, product displays, kiosks, etc.), serial numbers for all electronic equipment as well as make and model numbers, and the country of origin for each item you are taking across the border. If you will be bringing promotional items and give-a-ways, you will need to list them on a separate commercial invoice and labeled as “promotional items not intended for re-sale” as these can be duty and tax exempt. It is imperative that you are very detailed on your forms and any vagueness can cause further delays. Please note that these customs forms do not include any materials that you are planning on bringing with you on the airplane or in your car, these items will also need customs paperwork and detailed invoices.
All of this sounds like an expensive headache waiting to happen yet the potential at the show is too great to not attend, so what other choice do you have? You can rent an exhibit!
Many rental exhibits can be customized for your specific needs and you can eliminate all the customs headaches and costs by renting from within the country. With your rental agreement you will be provided the exhibit, graphics, shipping and installation. If you have large product that you want to exhibit, you can consider using digital media and monitors to show your apparatus at work. Other samples can be shipped ahead with the necessary paperwork and should be exempt of duty and taxes.
In the end, by renting an exhibit for a show in Canada you can eliminate a lot of stress and lower the cost of the show which in turn will increase your ROI.