by: Bryn Hughes – Originally published on on 2007-01-29


You may have been redirected here from our old site,  We’ve moved this article over to allow continued discussion and because it applies to all kinds of bikes (not just cruisers). I’ve copied the original comments from Vancruisers as well as they help to answer some questions folks had which are probably going to be asked again otherwise.  Enjoy!

Why Tax?

First let me start off by explaining the rationale behind Canada’s tax laws.

Assembled bicycles and bicycle wheels are taxed at a fairly high rate coming in to Canada.  The idea behind this is to help protect Canadian bike manufacturers.  You will essentially pay a penalty for NOT having the bike built in Canada, supposedly encouraging you to get a bike built here plus put some other countries (China in particular) on a more even playing field given that they do not pay nearly as much to their workers.

Regardless of what tax category your bike or parts fall in to expect to pay at LEAST GST/HST in addition to any other customs fees or duties.

How Much?

A complete bike falls under customs tariff #8712.00.00 – this category has a 13% tax rate PLUS GST/HST, pretty heavy especially if it’s an older bike.  However this rate only applies to “complete’ bikes.  The subcategories therein are all based on wheel size – if there’s no wheels though it’s not a complete bike.  If you don’t want to pay that 13% “complete bike’ tax then get the wheels shipped separately or not at all.

Wheels are the next highest taxed category.  An assembled bike wheel adds 6.5% plus GST/HST to the cost.  However an unassembled wheel has no extra duty, just GST/HST!  If you just want the hub anyhow then get the seller to cut out the hub and ditch the rest.  Besides avoiding the 6.5% duty your shipping charges will be less since the package is going to be way smaller!

If you’re just buying parts the best advice I can give you is have the seller be as specific as possible.  The following items do not have anything but GST/HST added:

  • Forks, fork parts, frame parts (including bearings, shocks, cable guides, fork tubing, etc)
  • Wheel rims or spokes
  • Hubs of any type
  • Brakes of any type
  • Saddles
  • Pedals and crank gear and parts thereof (including bearings, etc)

There are two different categories on the tariff labeled “Other” and I think it’s more or less up to the customs agent to determine what category things fall in to.  Remember a customs agent doesn’t necessarily know anything about bikes and they’re probably going to just run down the form until they find the first category labeled ‘Other’ – this one is “Frames and Forks, and Parts Thereof – Other’.  I honestly can’t think of ANYTHING that would fall in to this category as practically every part of the frame and fork has already been accounted for.

If you can, get the seller to label things very specifically, ideally with the actual customs tariff item number.  Here are the numbers and their tax rates all together:

  • 8712.00.00 – Complete Bikes – 13%
  • 8714.91.10 – Frame lugs, bottom bracket shells, forks, fork tubing sets, fork bearing assemblies, hydraulic shock absorbing cylinders, spring shock absorbers, rear pivots, cable stops, cable guides and back, chain and seat stays – 0%
  • 8714.91.90 – Frames and forks and parts thereof, OTHER than the above – 5%
  • 8714.92.00 – Wheel rims and spokes – 0%
  • 8714.93.00 – Hubs, other than coaster braking hubs and hub brakes plus free-wheel sprocket wheels – 0%
  • 8714.94.00 – Brakes, including coaster braking hubs and hub brakes plus parts thereof – 0%
  • 8714.95.00 – Saddles – 0%
  • 8714.96.00 – Pedals and crank-gear, and parts thereof (I’d put chainrings in here too) – 0%
  • 8714.99.10 – Bicycle wheels (I’m assuming assembled) – 6.5%
  • 8714.99.90 – OTHER bike parts – 0%

Remember customs officers are at work just like the rest of us and the more you do to make their job easier the better!  Obviously they’re still going to check your package but if you save them the time of having to figure out what everything is and what particular category it should fall in to then you’ll probably find you can get things through customs with a lot less hassle.

Other Tips

UPS and Fedex-type couriers all charge a fairly hefty ‘brokerage fee’ for processing your package through customs.  This fee is usually $30 or more.  The postal service however does NOT charge these fees.  If at all possible get your items shipped via the regular postal service.  Besides the shipping charge being way less that brokerage fee disappears.

Finally for bikes and parts that were originally made in Canada, make sure you get the seller to label the package with that information!  There is NO tax on bikes or bike parts made in Canada even if they’ve been shipped out of the country and are now coming back.

Original Comments from Below:

 Taxes on imported “used” frame?

 Posted by harryH at Aug 31, 2011 01:01 PM

Do you know if these import taxes will be charged when importing a “used” frame ? 

If you are bringing things back across the border yourself and the amount owing is less than $20 they generally just wave you through.

All they care about is the dollar value, there is no real difference as far as they are concerned for new or used. Brokerage fees in particular will be charged no matter what.


 Posted by Moonunit at Sep 12, 2011 09:21 AM

Great article! It really took the sweat off, when ordering a frame from the states. 
Any idea what the tariff classification is for bicycle tools (eg. truing stand, bottom bracket tools, torque wrenches?) from US to Canada? 

It will definitely depend where the tools, etc were made. If you’re buying Park Tools stuff for instance, it’s made in USA and therefore I BELIEVE will be duty-free under NAFTA (though you still have to pay the HST/GST). Essentially NAFTA says that anything made in North America won’t have any import duties when moving across the border, though sales tax is its own issue.

 No rhyme nor reason

 Posted by HarryH at Sep 29, 2011 09:42 AM

Over the past month, I’ve been ordering parts for a new bike. All parts have been imported from the UK, delivered by Canada Post and so far the taxes I have had to pay are: 

Wheelset – 5% GST + $8.50 handling fee 
Gear Shifters – 12% HST + $8.50 handling fee 

I have purposely been ordering a small (in value, under $100) number of items at a time (just enough to qualify for free shipping) and so far, all other deliveries have been tax and fees free. I still have some items to receive so I hope that this continues… 

Originally, I had planned to buy a new bike, ordered from the UK, until I saw what the duty\taxes were that would be levied : 21.5% + 12% which made me decide to build my bikes from the frame up…

That’s actually pretty typical of the way they handle things unfortunately. Sometimes things show up with zero due when there should be money owing, so it’s definitely not applied super consistently. 

The handling fee is a new one for me – never seen that from Canada Post before, but generally I’ve been ordering from the US.

 Semi built bike

 Posted by Cameron at Dec 28, 2011 01:21 PM

So, does this mean everything can be installed on the bike except wheels and you only pay 5% on the frame?

It’s up to the discretion of the customs officer in the end – I don’t think there’s really a hard and fast rule as there’s just so many different categories. If there’s no wheels on it though it’s clearly not “assembled” since you couldn’t ride it, so you wouldn’t have much issue arguing it if they tried to asses the ‘complete’ bike rate on you.

 Duty on frame

 Posted by Eric at Mar 20, 2012 10:46 AM

You make the following statement: “There are two different categories on the tariff labeled “Other” and I think it’s more or less up to the customs agent to determine what category things fall in to. Remember a customs agent doesn’t necessarily know anything about bikes and they’re probably going to just run down the form until they find the first category labeled ‘Other’ – this one is “Frames and Forks, and Parts Thereof – Other’. I honestly can’t think of ANYTHING that would fall in to this category as practically every part of the frame and fork has already been accounted for.” 

After reading the thread, as someone comments, isn’t it the frame itself that falls in this “Other” category attracting 5% duty? 

Yeah, I’d read it that way too.

 Duty white lie

 Posted by Chris at Apr 16, 2012 08:46 AM

What would happen if I bought a complete bike in the UK – got it shipped to my parents house, then got them to send it to me as a gift, but put the value at $100? Would I just pay the duty/taxes on the $100 or are they going to see right past it and put a dollar amount on the bike themselves?


 Posted by Tony Kangrui Liu at May 07, 2012 09:39 AM

In header 8712.00 (complete bicycle), it says on the right column (Applicable Preferential Tariffs) “GPT: 8.5%”. China and Taiwan, among others, are eligible for the General Preferential Tariff (GPT) which is listed in the first few pages of the 1700-page PDF. Does that mean a bicycle assembled in China for example would only be dutied 8.5% ?

 Posted by Rye Fry at Jun 20, 2012 05:30 AM

if shipped direct from either of those nations. If it is shipped to the US first and then brought up, it does not apply in terms of duty reduction.

 duty on Trikes

 Posted by Vince in TO at Sep 19, 2012 12:45 PM

Am picking up a Performer from RBR in State College, PA at the end of the month, so naturally the threads of discussion in this forum greatly interest me. a couple of things have not been mentioned and I thought I’d dwell in it. Please correct me if I am wrong: 

If the Trike is dutiable, the tariff schedule clearly says the ad Valorem is 13% of Invoice face value, including the foreign taxes on top. However, following may come into play and would effectively reduce the fianl price I can expect to pay for the trike, granting that: 

1) I have a Personal exemption for absence of 48 hours or more – The duty & HST ( in this case Ontario) would be based on the excess amount after your exemption of $800.00 

2) The duty of 13% may effectively come down to 7% under Special duty rate of 7% under the Most Favoured Nation Tariff, in addition to the personal exemption. Conditions are the trike must accompany me, do not qualify under NAFTA and values are worth CAN$300 more than your CAN$800 exemption (48 hours/7 day. taxes still have to be paid at going rate. 

So, on my return after 48 hours, if my Invoice price is CAN$1700 (including foreign tax), Duties I shall expect to pay would be CAN$56.00, and sales tax would be 111.28 ( 13% of $800 + $56). The total impported price of the Trike would then be CAN$1867. @ 13% duty and 13% HST, this amount would have been CAN $2170.73. 
 Now, I wonder what my savings would be if I delcared them as bike parts as earlier suggested? 

I’ve had tons of experience bringing bikes back with you in person. If you’ve been away for the 48 hours you most likely are going to just get waved through. At MOST they will charge you the GST/HST on the portion in excess of the personal exemption, ESPECIALLY if the trike was made in USA (as NAFTA waives the duty on that). If you are declaring a bunch of booze and smokes at the same time though all bets are off.

We just brought back 20+ bikes across a dozen or so people last weekend. One of my friends had the bulk of the $$$ value in his trailer and was travelling alone – he ended up paying HST on the last $600 of the declared value, so $72. Not too bad. Another group of us had 4 of us travelling together and brought through about $2K worth of stuff – no taxes needed to be paid. 

Just make sure you have your declared value written down – even if it is not an actual receipt. They want to see that you’re not just pulling numbers out of your head.

 Posted by Vince in TO at Sep 20, 2012 10:28 AM

Hmmm. Thank you for sharing your experience. I think it would end up that way since my declared value may be less than my personal exemption, given that I’m travelling with a companion under whose exemption might fall the other half of the intended value. We would then declare them as trike parts.

Let’s see what happens.

They definitely will split the total across both of you if you are travelling together, no worries there. I wouldn’t even bother trying to declare it as parts or anything.

I was actually just looking through my book where I write down everything I’m hauling across the border – there’s over 50 bikes in my book and I’ve only ever had to pay HST once, on a trip where we came back the same day as we went down and had nearly $1K worth of stuff coming back. Just make sure there’s no apples in your cooler!

 shared exemption

 Posted by Vince in TO at Oct 03, 2012 01:11 PM

Just confirmed the experience with border customs. With the combined exemption of $3200 ( there were 4 of us), the customs gentleman ( indeed he was truly a gentleman)waived us through after having asked for and looked at the invoice. I guess the wanted to confirm 2 things – that the amount was consistent with what I said when asked verbally and the date the trike was purchased.

thank you for the tip. It made the experience easier.

 driving a load into Canada

 Posted by worried at Nov 22, 2012 03:01 PM

I have about $1800 worth of parts (frames, forks, bars, stems, cranks, etc.) waiting for me to bring back from North Dakota..mostly ebay stuff and some bmxmuseum stuff..none of it from a store, so as far as I see it’s like yard sale I have to pay tax and duty on this stuff?..there’s no way I’d pay tax at a yard sale..

They don’t really care where you bought it – yard sale, bike shop, some guy with a trenchcoat… All that is important as far as the border guards are concerned is that you are importing it in to Canada. If you can prove that the items CAME from Canada then you can get an exemption, but that’s about it.

That said, let’s look at the actual numbers!! I’m going to assume you will at least be away overnight for your trip – you get a $200 credit for the first night you are away, and that goes up to $800 after two nights. They don’t count hours, they count “dates”, so leaving at 11PM on a Friday and then coming back at 9AM on a Sunday would count as “48 hours”, so you would get an $800 exemption. 

If you’ve got a friend with you, they also get the same exemption. They don’t really care so much who got the items in question, they more look at the total spend divided by the number of travellers. So if you bring a friend and are away for 2 nights, you’ve got a $1600 credit between the two of you. Not too shabby!! 

At that point, you probably won’t end up paying anything. Generally speaking they do not bother to have you pay if the amount owing is less than $20-50 depending on the agent. I’m not sure which province you are coming to/from, but if you are from any of the “non-HST” provinces then you would usually pay only GST. So if you are from Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan you would pay 5% on the remaining balance, so all of $10. They won’t bother to collect that from you as it costs them more than $10 in employee time to do the paperwork! 

Worst case scenario – you are driving down from Ontario and plan to come back the same day. You have zero exemption at that point. You’d pay HST @ 13% on the full total – $234. That amount they definitely would have you pay. So if it were me, I’d bring a buddy and stay for a couple of nights – I’d rather spend my $$$ on beer and hotel costs than paying sales tax!

 Point Roberts

 Posted by Mark BC at Jan 22, 2013 09:20 AM

Ouch, I just made some orders and had them shipped to a holding company in Point Roberts, which means that if I went down for a couple nights I’d have to sit around in Point Roberts and not be able to go anywhere… 

It’s some hefty purchases — a $1800 complete bike, another separate order for $550 of parts, and a different order from a different company for $550 in parts. So I guess I’ll get hit with the full 13% tax then? I probably should have sent them to Blaine so I could spend a night or two down there.

Here in BC you’d be paying 12% rather than 13% (the above example was for Ontario). Not MUCH better but yup, you are going to get hit with the full 12%, or $348 on the $2900 total you list above. They absolutely will ding you for that. Still cheaper than getting it shipped to your door as you would have had to pay brokerage fees on top of the HST though.

The Point Roberts guys also know that a lot of people head down there just to pick up packages so they are watching for you!


 Posted by Mark BC at Jan 22, 2013 10:32 AM

But that 12% would only be applied to the complete bike, right? The other orders of miscellaneous parts would be taxed at 0% or 5% as described in the OP?

No, you would see 12% HST on everything no matter what. HST is charged regardless of what category the item is.

HST/GST/PST is a sales tax, not a duty. Duty is a specific extra fee based on the category of the item whereas HST is a general sales tax that applies to absolutely everything.

The 12% “complete bike” duty may be charged in addition to the 12% HST, but it is not too common to see the border agents charging duty when you bring items up yourself. Generally they will only worry about the HST unless you are bringing in say a whole truck load of bikes brand new in their boxes. 

There are also country of origin rules around duties… If the bike was made in the USA then it is “duty free” under NAFTA (but you still pay HST). If it is from one of the countries identified above in the comments under the “Preferential” category then it will be “duty free” but again you still pay HST. No matter what you do, you’re on the hook for the HST. 

I think they don’t worry about the other duties too much with individuals since the hassle of sorting out country of origin and the specific tariff categories for a bunch of small random single items again exceeds the revenue they would actually get from them. A truck load of 1000 identical bikes? Definitely worth their while. An individual without much documentation on what they bought and 12 individual items all made in different places? The agent could be tied up for an hour and a half easily.

 GPT tariff on bicycles from China etc

 Posted by Frankh at Dec 12, 2014 04:13 PM

Customs notice 14-019 of September 2014, appears to remove the General Preferential Tariff fro goods made in China and 71 other countries. It appears that the preferential tariff on bicycles could be affected by this change. This is in effect for goods purchased after January 1, 2015. 


 Posted by josh at Sep 02, 2013 10:47 AM

right now im shipping a bmx frame from the eu to canada (chain reaction cycles) just wondering.. how much would customs cost since i got my shipping free

It will depend on the carrier and what service the sender shipped it with. For instance most of the “premium” UPS shipping services include all the brokerage fees up front so you are only on the hook for the actual duty. Brokerage fees are usually $30-50 (this service fee just covers the processing of the item by the broker – ie they handle all the paperwork with Customs and then pre-pay the duty on your behalf)

Most of the time you will at least pay GST (or HST if you are in a province that has it). Whether or not you have to pay any import duty on top of that is somewhat up to the customs agent that processes the package. The rules say you would pay duty on a “Complete Bike”, which would be another 13% on top of the GST/HST.

 Florida to Canada to Kenya

 Posted by Dars at Jul 03, 2014 09:01 AM

Hi there, I am Canadian resident who will be travelling from Florida to Canada for a 7 hr layover (probably not leaving the airport) and then to Kenya where I reside. Do you know which if any taxes I will need to pay to bring a completely unassembled bike through the airport while I travel back to Nairobi? The FL to CAN ticket is American Airlines and the CAN to NBO ticket is Air France or KLM.

You almost certainly won’t have to pay anything. They would only be interested in taxes if you had purchased the bike while in Florida and had been out of the country for less than a day or two. I’m assuming you’ve been gone for longer than that so you should have the full customs exemption already. You don’t say if the bike is new or something you already had – if you brought it with you from Canada then it is definitely exempt

When you land in Canada you will still have to go through Canadian customs, the fact that your are continuing on somewhere else isn’t relevant to them as far as taxes / duty goes.

 Hobson easy Seat 2 price difference

 Posted by Eduardo at Jul 20, 2015 02:02 PM

Could you tell me if I have understood well the fact of price difference between buying two Hobson Easy Seat 2 from, around 150 cads each, compared with buying same article, also online, from Hobson factory at 40 U$S each. Do I go for it or I will be paying equivalent to Amazon Custom taxes on both countries and got trapped by ignoring the sequence of the facts? 

For something as small as a saddle you’ll probably do better ordering direct from the US, yes. Shipping costs are the big killer sometimes, keep an eye on that!