Sunday, 3 May 2015

My Favourite Accessories to Pack & Duty Considerations

NICE: The following five accessories are with me on most trips abroad. In this post, I have provided some Canadian duty questions to consider, particularly on "designer" items.

1. In my April 26th post, I identified my favourite clothing to pack when traveling and in that list I included the two pairs of shoes I feel I must always take - my ballet flats and my Jimmy Choo heels. I wish I had kept my Jimmy Choo receipt from Holt Renfrew (you'll see my concern when you read #3); however, they are worn and do not look "brand new" anymore so I doubt I will ever have any customs official ask me about them.

Holt Renfrew Cashmere shawl. Photo by JoyD.
2. My Holt Renfrew cashmere shawl which serves as blanket on planes, a coverup for a cool spring or summer evening or a head covering and scarf in the winter. It's always in my carry-on no matter where in the world I go or what season it happens to be. It's old enough and worn looking enough that I do not worry about any customs agent asking me about this item either. I know I couldn't produce the receipt but I do know that I bought it in Vancouver in 2012 or was it 2013? The HR logo also establishes that it was made for Holt Renfrew for sale in Canada and most likely purchased in Canada.

Photo Source: Swarovski
3.  My Swarovski slake bracelet which does have the receipt indicating where and when I bought it. After having travelled to many places with several accessories bought in foreign locations, I now make sure I enclose my receipts with my "designer" pieces. I have never been questioned in this way but have heard that others have had experiences similar to the following. A friend's dad, from Calgary, was returning to Canada from the United States. He was wearing a designer brand cashmere pullover. The customs agent questioned him and asked if he had a receipt for it. The answer was that it was a sweater bought previously in Europe and not on this particular trip. Again the agent asked for a receipt. He didn't have one and so, taking all the factors into consideration, he took the sweater off and threw it in the garbage. It was old enough that it didn't owe him anything and damned if he was going to pay more taxes on an item that was previously purchased elsewhere. Now I'm not exactly sure (at least at the time of this writing) but if an item is more than six months old, you do not have to pay duty on it, even if it was purchased in the country from which you are travelling. In other words, anything I buy right now in France and return to Canada with in February will not require me to pay duty . . . but I have to prove it with a receipt. In the case of my friend's father, how many people keep receipts on older items? Not many, that is before they have read this story. Of course, the agent could have kept the sweater, his dad may have found the receipt at home and then sent it to Customs and the sweater would have been returned. Having the receipt is the clincher.

Lancel Flirt Bag and Wallet purchased in 2011. Photo by JoyD.
4.  My Lancel bag and wallet, which are dated and don't look brand new. are probably two pieces which should have the receipt enclosed since they are higher ticket items. However, I only understood the importance of keeping receipts for previously purchased items after I found out about my friend's dad's experience. If an agent would ever ask me about this bag and wallet, I could identify where and when I bought it without hesitation. Hopefully, along with the wear and tear on the items, that would be adequate and since I did pay duty on these two items in 2011, I imagine that would be on file. At least I hope it would be on file.

Turquoise and large link necklace. Made by JoyD.
5.  My handmade (made by me) turquoise and chain necklace could be another questionable customs issue if it was newly made while I was in France. This one is an oldie but a goodie and so I have no worries. However the following is a new piece of information that certainly is interesting. As far as I understand, again from a friend's experience, if an article of clothing or perhaps a piece of fashion jewellery, does not have a designation of where it was made, Canadian duty is not to be collected on it. The case of my friend was that he had several linen shirts custom made for him while in Thailand. The shirts identified the tailor on the tag but not where they were made. As a result he did not have to pay duty on these items even though they were purchased on this particular trip. My jewellery has no trademark or identifying "made in . . . " reference therefore it should be duty free even if I made it in France during my stay here.

But of course it's all open to interpretation and the last person I want to oppose is a Canadian customs agent unless of course I have proof and know that I am right. I travel too much and want to continue travelling without any grief and so I will be more diligent in keeping my receipts. 

I'm curious . . . if you have any "customs" stories, no matter where in the world you live, please comment; I'd love to hear about your experiences.

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