Paul Griggs, founder of Events on the Move, a customs broker and frieght forwarder in Vancouver, B.C., says Canada offers some attractive incentives in terms of cost savings and streamlined border clearances for U.S.–based meeting planners to hold their meetings in Canada.

Spearheading these developments is the International Events and Convention Services Program of the Canada Border Service Agency.

Partnering with the Convention Services Program are independently owned customs brokers and freight forwarders who specialize in the meetings industry. Together, the IECSP and one of these brokers can set up your event with the special privileges offered to foreign convention organizers to allow you and your exhibitors to import goods free of duty and tax, says Griggs.

Most countries around the world will charge shippers for importing goods either through the local state tax or federal Value Added Tax. These numbers can add up: In some countries, the VAT is as high as 25 percent. In Canada, most U.S. meetings can have this tax waived, saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

The other important advantage is that customs brokers can move your goods, in most cases, directly to the hotel or convention center and clear customs on site. This virtually eliminates the worry of things getting “stuck in Customs.”

  • The IECSP will help with the following:
    • The Letter of Recognition: a letter of introduction, issued by the IECSP coordinator, which you may present to the CBSA upon your arrival in Canada to facilitate the entry process
    • border-related requirements, exemptions and services that may apply to your specific event
    • moving your goods from the Canadian border to the event site
    • non-Canadians working in Canada
    • visitor visa requirements for persons from countries that require a visa to visit Canada
    • Canada's goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax
    • security deposits

    Customs brokers in Canada that specialize in meetings and conventions work in conjunction with the government and can, among other things, liaise with the Government on your behalf. Specifically, they can:

  • apply for the Letter of Recognition on your behalf
  • apply for duty- and tax-free status for your event
  • apply for on-site customs clearance for your event
  • provide information to your attendees and exhibitors about shipping to Canada
  • provide advance warehousing to receive your international shipment, clear it through customs, and deliver it to your event
  • For more, visit the Events on the Move Web site.