Join Date: Oct 2006
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As others have said, importing is painless. If you import it yourself the customs people are required to help you fill out the form properly. Show them the bill of sale, pay the sales tax and you even get your registration number for the bow right on the spot. As I recall, "tonnage" is the only difficult blank to fill in.
Trailers can be trickier because they are road vehicles and must meet the Transport Canada requirements for lighting, tires, axles, etc. A commercially built trailer in good shape should be OK, but they might (or might not) give you grief over a homebuilt U.S. trailer coming into Canada.
Commercial boat haulers can sometimes give you very good prices, especially if you're flexible on time. As fall approaches, trucks are full going south, but empty coming north. Also, they can load two smaller boats on a trailer. If you can tag along on one of these loads, you can save a lot. (A few years ago I got a quote from Andrews Trucking for a 26' boat of $2200 at my convenience, or for $650 at theirs. The did a great job for me. Highly recommended.)
By the way, if you cross paths with DRD Motorsports for trucking, run as fast as you can. I went through a boat transport broker last year for a 34' boat from Maryland to Ontario who assigned my load to DRD. DRD never bothered to called me. When I finally called to ask what was happening, I was told the truck was to pick up my boat the following morning, and if I didn't wire transfer the full fee that afternoon, my boat wouldn't be picked up. (The contract with the broker said COD payment. DRD said he didn't care what the contract said, but did say he didn't trust his driver with a cash payment.) Then it turned out DRD didn't have the first clue about crossing the border and dealing with customs. He couldn't tell me when the truck would reach the border so I couldn't plan on meeting the driver and import it myself. I hired Garden City Customs Brokers (a truly class company, by the way). When I relayed their instructions to DRD, DRD said their instructions were wrong. The Garden City broker had me give her cell number to DRD and she straightened him out herself. Every time I talked to DRD I was told "if you hold my truck up, I'm going to charge you more." Finally when the driver arrived he wouldn't release the boat until I paid another $15 cash. DRD's bank charged him a $15 fee for the wire transfer he demanded from me, so he wouldn't release my boat until I paid this, too.
I'll tell you, happiness is seeing a DRD Motorsports truck driving away...
That advice about using a broker to avoid paying GST sounds pretty dodgy to me. Garden City Brokers charged me about $60 for their work, including applying for an importer number for me. If a broker is charging $175 for the same work and telling customers they don't have to pay GST for a boat for personal use, I think I'd look for someone else. Sure, the broker says you have a 50/50 chance of having to pay the GST if caught. But if you get charged with tax evasion and fined, will he put into writing that he will pay the fine and your legal bills? Assuming, of course, that he's still around.
Anyway, good luck on your boat hunting!