Unlike many Australians, most Canadians are unaware of the advantages of importing CDs & DVDs and the opportunities
they are offered when our dollar is strong. This guide will explain the various savings that can be obtained by importing
music and film.
Tax & Customs Duty Exemptions
Parcels that contain CDs & DVDs whose total value is less than $20 in Canadian funds are
exempt from duties, customs handling fees and taxes. This value is determined and declared by the foreign retailer and does not include
s&h fees or any value added tax, so this enables you to save money on the Canadian retailer markups on imports and resulting sales taxes
on such a purchase, provided that you aren't using a post office box or commercial intermediary to import this material.
from relatives are also exempt, up to a declared value of $60, so you can send gifts to your Canadian
relatives without worrying, provided the foreign retailer didn't use UPS to ship it (see shipping and handling)
Currency Rates On Postal Imports
Unlike most Customs brokers, Canada Post uses their own currency exchange rate
to determine the value of a shipment in Canadian dollars - They only alter the exchange rate if the rate was stable for two days so this
can result in savings if you do pay the 7% duty on compact discs or DVDs.
If your shipment does incur duties, it will also incur a
customs handling fee ($5 @ Canada Post) and sales taxes on the full value of the shipment if is doesn't qualify as a gift ; $60 is removed
from the declared value prior to the implementation of the duty and tax on gifts.
Many countries like Australia and the U.k have value added taxes added to their products. These taxes
are removed once these sites determine that the order's destination is international resulting in a reduction in the price of
the products in one's cart.
Shipping & Handling
Rates and shipping times of course differ from one country to another. You can choose to have
it shipped faster but be warned, the extra costs can be quite considerable, especially when a courier company has their own fees like
Your best bet are national postal agencies like the United States Postal Service (USPS), Royal Mail and Australia Post - These
agencies ship their parcels to Canada Post and their brokerage fees are reasonable. But note that when it comes to France, you will
need to hunt around - Their shipping and handling rates are exorbitant, generally.
Free Shipping Offers
Only a few foreign retailers offer free shipping to Canada :
CD WOW! (UK),
(USA/Orders over $249) and PlayUSA.com. But some sellers on ebay offer free shipping on orders that include multiple items.
Note that i've also listed free shipping offers to other countries in my free shipping listings, for those who want to buy gifts for people who live in
Major credit cards like Visa, Mastercard and American Express are the best method of payment for imports. They offer
more protection when it comes to disputes and fraud in comparison to money orders and payments by cash, the later being illadvised.
also preferable for payments in some instances but it has its drawbacks. It does allow individuals to pay and charge their credit card in Canadian
funds, allowing savings when it comes to the exchange rate fees some credit cards charge. But it is best used with retailers, sites and charities
you know and trust.
Many American releases are quite affordable on the American sites, even with the exchange rate, but
comparison shopping is still in order because of the shipping and handling rates of these retailers. Very few foreign retailers offer
free shipping to international destinations so it's best to keep the declared value down to take advantage of the tax and customs duty
Importing CD singles
CD Singles are way cheaper in the countries they are originally released, moreso when they are
available as pre-orders. So you can save money by importing these from Europe or Australia, the later being better because of our stronger
Importing Used CDs
Used CDs are great because their declared values are very low. Their shipping and handling fees are
generally the same as new CDs. But always pick a retailer with good return policies in case the used merchandise isn't up to par or
isn't as decribed.
Some American releases can be purchased for less than ten to fifteen Canadian dollars, twenty for some
newer releases and pre-orders. But international releases are generally incompatible with our equipement though region 0 ("all
zones") DVDs in the Pal format are compatible with some North American equipment. (click here for a pal compatible player listing at buymusic.ca)
Non North American Region 0 discs are best
purchased from the U.K or Australia, due to the shipping and handling costs in some counties, like France - Pre-orders also result in
Importing Used DVDs
Used DVDs are best ordered within North America due to compatibility issues and shipping and
handling fees. Some deals on foreign DVDs can be found on the auction sites but don't forget to check the seller feedbacks ! (click here for an international retailer listing)
Reputable dealers do not sell pirated material and you should have nothing to worry about if the retailer
(or seller) isn't based in Russia, China or an Eastern European state.
eBay and Paypal are generally good services, provided that you don't encounter a problem. If you do, you may end
up with less cash because of the fees and costs you'll incur even when the seller is at fault.
For example, I just recently purchased a heavily
Hallyday CD from an American, who had it shipped from China. This purchase cost me about US$14 plus the paypal fees and when I proceeded
with Paypal's resolution center, I was asked that to send it back registered so that Paypal could attempt to get my money back. That would have at least
cost me $11 in Canadian funds if the seller wouldn't have refunded me.
This case was resolved relatively easy in comparison to a previous incident i've
had with a Las Vegas based seller (that sold a non-existant "official" Phil Collins DVD to me) so your best bet is to do your homework on sellers you don't
know : Read the sellers feedback and avoid sellers that are arrogant, condescending or belligerent in their responses to neutral and negative feedback.
And ask questions of the origins of the CD or DVD by email, especially if you encounter feedback stating the seller sold bootlegs and material originating
from problem areas like Russia, China and the Eastern European states.
Personally, i've encountered three problems on over thirty transactions,
so i'd say I have a very high satisfaction rate with ebay. (Useful Links :
The Ebay Feedback Tool at Toolhaus / Bidfraud.com)
Alternatives to eBay
Amazon's Marketplace and ZShops are good alternatives to ebay, although there are limitations when dealing with
sellers who aren't on Amazon.ca or
do not ship internationally and shipping & handling may be expensive from certain countries, like france.
There is also no central database, so you
might need to search several of the Amazon stores
if you can't find it on Amazon.ca or
Amazon.com - Though some excellent deals can be had by doing this.
Several other online retailers have also established similar
non bidding marketplaces in Europe, like french retailer alapage.com
, so more will likely make their way onto the internet
Also available are GEMM and Musicstack, where several retailers can be searched at once. Both can be used to search for rare and used recordings, including
LPs and 45's. But if you're looking for videos, books and memorabelia, these listings can be found on GEMM.
Links Of Interest