events on the move vancouver canada

Event Logistics 101

Why use a Customs Broker?

Any time a shipment – large or small – is being shipped in Canada, a customs broker can be used. Customs brokers will ensure that duties and taxes are not applied to the shipment when appropriate. They will also ensure your documentation is prepared properly and streamline the process of clearing customs. 

There are only five or six customs brokers in Canada that specialize in conventions and meetings. Canada Customs will only allow certain privileges for local brokers in Vancouver. You can be confident that if you are using a certified customs broker, you are in good hands. But it is important to choose a customs broker that specializes in meetings and conventions, and understands the special challenges of shipping to international events.

Here’s what to expect from your customs broker: 

  • Less work for you. Your customs broker will fill out all customs documentation, including shipping labels and bills of lading.
  • Cost savings. Your customs broker can arrange for a Letter of Recognition that allows for duty and tax-free privileges for materials being shipped to an event in Canada.
  • On-site customs clearance (at the hotel or convention centre rather than at the border).
  • 24/7 service.
  • Experience working with venues – they understand the workings of the hotel or convention centre hosting your event.
  • Peace of mind that your materials will arrive intact and on time.

What do Customs Brokers do?

Canada’s customs procedures have been developed to streamline the meetings and conventions industry. For the U.S. and international meeting planner, these procedures are making it easier than ever to bring an event into Canada. Working within these guidelines, a customs broker will ensure that meetings obtain all the special privileges that the Canadian government has set up for the meeting planner, association and exhibitors.

Facts about customs brokers:

  • Your customs broker will actually provide a truck to pick up shipments and bring them here to your hotel or conference centre. They are considered Freight Forwarders.
  • The advantage to having a broker involved is to streamline the entire shipping process by:
    a) picking up the shipment from the exhibitor’s or show manager’s office or warehouse,
    b) transporting it,
    c) clearing customs, and
    d) delivering to the conference centre during the move-in of the event.
  • A customs broker can also help in the years and months leading up to the event. For example, they can assist you in the sales process by speaking to potential associations or corporations considering Canada to ensure they are comfortable holding their event in Canada. If the event has a year prior, a customs broker can often provide some on-site support for the association to help build exhibitor attendance for your event.
  • In the months leading up to the event, a broker will assist the show manager or vendors with the planning process for their shipping. This will ensure that duty and tax implications are identified and that the shipping timelines are set.
  • On-site, your broker will ensure all shipments are cleared through customs and be available for any last minute problems should they arise.
  • They will also help with the outbound shipping to ensure that materials arrive home efficiently and without delay through U.S. customs.