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I am moving back to Canada (where I am a citizen) from the United States (where I have been working for two years under TN status). I have been planning to ship the majority of my personal belongings to Canada using the United States Postal Service. When I went to the post office with the first package, they requested that I fill out a USPS Customs Declaration and Dispatch Notice (PS Form 2976-R, April 2016).

This customs form seems to require an itemized list of everything I'm sending, with weight and cost for each of them. This would be an enormous pain. The boxes contain everything from disorganized bags of lego and trading cards, various personal electronics, assorted clothing, books and magazines, cookware, sports equipment, and other things. I do not know the value of most of these items, and some may not have a clear specific value. (Although for what it's worth, all but a few are individually not very expensive.) I also don't have a postage scale (I was intending to use the one at the post office to weigh the boxes in their entirety, not expecting to need to weigh every item individually), though I could buy one if required.

Is this actually necessary for shipping existing personal belongings to myself?

I understand that such declarations are necessary for sending new items as gifts, or items that are being shipped for commercial purposes, but it doesn't feel correct for simply moving my own possessions from one location to another.

  • In the end I grouped up similar items and listed them as a single entry on the customs form, and that seems to have been fine. Not so bad. – Jeremy Banks Oct 12 '16 at 6:00
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I think you need to fill out those forms. You need a list of all the items you are bringing to Canada to apply for the tax and duty exemption a returning resident is entitled to, and a copy of those forms will supply that. I've not done this with USPS, but the process with a mover is similar.

When you move to Canada with a mover, as they load stuff on the truck they will make a list of each individual item they put on the truck. Once it is packed you take a copy of that list and attach it to a filled in form BSF186. When you subsequently enter Canada you declare that you have goods to follow and give them that package. They'll put stamps on it. When the truck shows up you meet it at a customs bond facility and give your stamped BSF186 and list to the customs officer there. She'll make sure the stuff you declared is the same as the stuff on the truck, then put her stamps on the forms to mark it arrived and release it from customs.

I'm not exactly sure how it will work with stuff sent by mail but my guess would be that if they don't deliver it directly you'll need the stamped BSF186 and copies of the USPS forms to get it out of the Canada Post customs bond without paying duty. So you need the detailed list of items that copies the USPS forms will provide to claim the duty exemption for the goods and perhaps persuade Canada Post you needn't pay tax on the delivery.

  • Thanks for the clarification/confirmation, and context! I was surprised by this requirement, but that's on me for not preparing adequately, and it won't really be that much difficulty. – Jeremy Banks Sep 15 '16 at 19:55
  • I've shipped boxes of books from the US to Canada and just listed "used books" with a total worth. I was not going to list 20 different books on the form. – mkennedy Sep 15 '16 at 20:02
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The same information is required (down to forks and knives) when moving to Canada from the US and driving your items in. The price is what I like to call "garage sale" price. And then whatever is over $10K is when taxes come in. I even had to make sure the list included items that were coming later. This was due to my husband moving up with us in 3 months. I did not have included weight.

Good luck.

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