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A businessperson’s options when taking samples across the border

Business owners in British Columbia who are new to exporting merchandise to the United States might have questions about the various options available when taking business samples on a marketing trip. The first step when planning to take merchandise samples from Canada to the United States would be to obtain the appropriate Visa for the specific purpose of the trip. The applicable Visa for commercial activities like design and research, production and manufacturing, sales and distribution, and other general services like after-sales service is the B-1 Visa for temporary presence in the United States. 

TIB – Temporary Importation under Bond

Eligibility for a Temporary Importation Bond is possible when a Canadian business owner or representative carries merchandise samples to secure orders. U.S. entry on a TIB is subject to the condition that the samples do not remain or be sold in the United States but returned or exported back to Canada within one year. An eligible businessperson will not be liable for duty payments on the samples. 

Duty and taxes payment

Another option is to make payment of all applicable taxes and/or duty upon arrival. Once such payments are made, the authorized importer can sell the samples in the United States before returning to Canada. 

Temporary Admission Carnet 

A British Columbia businessperson can also bring the samples into the United States on an Admission Temporaire — Temporary Admission (ATA), an international customs document.  It provides a temporary duty-free option instead of the customs documents typically required when importing goods into the United States. The ATA Carnet holder may travel back and forth between the United States and Canada as often as necessary while the document is valid. 

It allows unrestricted movement of the goods across the border with the choice to export the samples within the one year that the ATA Carnet will be valid. The alternative option is to sell the goods in the United States. At this time, the seller must pay the necessary duties. Selecting the best option for taking business samples into the United States typically requires the advice of a strong support team. The planned activities of the British Columbia businessperson can be evaluated to identify potential issues during the trip from crossing the border into the United States until the ultimate return to Canada.