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Canadians Who Have Bought Horses in the USA; Can I Hear From You?

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  • Canadians Who Have Bought Horses in the USA; Can I Hear From You?

    I recently sold a yearling filly to a young woman in Canada. This is the third horse I have sold up North, but this is the only one who is going to be shipped commercially.

    Per the buyer of one of the horses sold afew years ago, they were pulled over at the border and grilled about the breed of the horse, it's price, etc. At one point the border folk even got on line to try to find the ad for this horse to check the price!

    So what IS the deal bringing a horse over the border? Is there a tax due? If the horse is being hauled commercially, how is the tax paid?

    Is there any government agency who I can direct this young
    woman to who might be able to answer all these questions?

    The buyer is quite young (just 19) so I'm trying to help her as much as possible. PMs are just fine.


  • #2
    Yes, tax must be paid for the price of the horse, hence the checking of the actual sale price since people have been known to get a bill of sale with a lower price then the sale price in order to pay less tax.
    If the border control has any clue about horses they might question the price hence the investigation. If they have no clue they will take the document at face value.
    Most commercial haulers will be working with a broker that will handle the payment of the tax, the faxing of the health document to the border vet and handle the paper work.
    If the hauler doesn't have a broker the buyer will need to get one to work on her behalf at the border.
    Hope this helps.
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    • #3
      If you have a website and the price of the horse is there, make sure it's the same price on the bill of sale, they do check the website


      • #4
        We purchase horses fro the U.S. a fair bit. I always make sure the broker and the shipper have a copy of the bill of sale. You mentioned that this is the first horse you've shipped up to Canada commercially. It is possible that the other person was pulled over simply because they were not a commercial shipper. They are much harder on them.

        Just make sure the filly has a current negative Coggins, health papers within 30 days of crossing the border, as well as a CEM certificate. The Canadian buyer will also need to fill out a couple of forms with the broker and the shipper needs to have copies of the Coggins and health papers as well.

        As mentioned above, the buyer will need to pay GST and possibily HST tax (Province dependent) on the purchase price of the filly. She will also have to pay a brokerage fee as well. Some shippers include these prices in their shipping price and take care of everything, but I find most shippers now walk you through everything and the buyer will deal with, and pay the broker directly.

        As long as all of the paperwork is in order, there shouldn't be a problem.
        Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
        Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


        • #5
          A recent thread on the Canadian BB


          • #6
            When I purchase one of my broodmare in the US, I had the bill of sale and all the papers with me and, I was there for a few hours because they did not belive that I paid that price for the mare, they went on the website of the old owner and they also search my truck looking for another bill, but NEVER LOOK in the trailer. make sure they remove the price of the horses, they WILL GO AND LOOK.


            • #7
              I believe the commercial haulers get treated better by customs, both U.S. and Canada, than private ones. Have your paperwork in order. The immigration officers may not have a clue about the value of a horse, but for permanent importation, a Federal Vet also inspects the horse. If what he sees doesn't make sense to the value posted on the bill of sale, then there could be a problem, IMO. I know of one person who grossly undervalued a couple of horses being imported into Canada several years ago. She was caught - didn't even have a bill of sale. I was told she was kept 12 hours at customs, until sale price was verified, HST and a fine were paid in full, before being allowed into the country. Since then, there seems to be more scrutinization of private haulers in particular. I recommend to my clients to use a commercial hauler.

              People importing horses into Canada have to pay GST or HST, depending on the province, on the full sale price of the horse. This can add up to an additional 15% on the sales price of the horse. Broker fees are a flat fee, and less than $100 last time I checked.
              Martha Haley - NeverSayNever Farm
              2009 KWN-NA Breeder of the Year/Silver Level Breeder


              • #8
                Advise her to get a broker. The broker will pre-clear the horse through customs and the shipper shouldn't have any problems getting through. I'm a registered commercial shipper and I've brought horses across the border both ways with no problems at all ever, but I make darned sure all my documents are in order AND that we're pre-cleared. Which crossing is she using? Some can be a bit more time consuming than others.


                • #9
                  Sold 2 last year, and they searched the trailer and truck and my website for prices, looking for other documents. So, yes they do!


                  • #10
                    It goes from the sublime to the ridiculous at times at the border ...

                    I run the farm as a business, so whatever taxes I pay, I get them back each quarter. I do a reconciliation between what Ive bought and paid tax on and what Ive sold and charged tax on. Majority of my clients are outside of Canada for all of my sales so for the last 10+ years or so, I get my tax money back

                    So - for me - its immaterial whether the horse is $1.00 or $1000.00 or $10,000 - whatever tax I pay eventually ends up back in my pocket. So - I have "0" reason to lie about the value of what I have bought

                    I have been held at customs for hours while they try and find out if I have been fabricating the price and the really frustrating part is that they see I import XXX horses each year, they see the values are all over the map (so they are not all $500 or $1000.00 or $3000.00 horses), they see I claim them and get money back, they acknowledge all of this and yet they still search for hours at times

                    A commercial hauler is no guarantee of ease through customs either. I used one when I brought a $2500.00 mare up from FL many years ago and because it was quiet at 3:00 am in customs, the customs official looked her up, found Northern Dancer as the great great grandsire and that was it - she was positive she "caught me" and this mare must be at least a $100,000 mare. I got called at 3:00 am by the driver and by customs. The lady in FL got called. The poor driver was delayed for hours. I tried to explain if they detained every TB with Northern Dancer in the first 5 generations, there wouldnt be many getting through

                    My favorite one of all???

                    I bought a very thin mare for $1.00. Literally she was a meat horse and for meat she would have maybe fetched $250.00 - $300.00

                    I got hauled inside to "pay the tax on her". For a declared value of $1.00. They got $0.13 from me. I didnt know whether to laugh or cry, or throw a quarter at him and tell him to keep the change ...

                    I feel like framing that customs invoice and putting it on my wall above my computer. When I need a laugh, all Id have to do is look at it ...

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                    • #11
                      Brings back memories of when I was given an older mare many years ago. We were concerned about what value to put on her because we were sure that customs would not believe a $1.00 purchase price - she was an old, retired show horse and in excellent condition. We actually increased her value in order to not cause any problems for the hauler at the border. I wonder how many people actually have to do that! They just have a mentality that everyone is trying to hoodwink them....
                      Westbrook Farm


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mistysmom View Post
                        Brings back memories of when I was given an older mare many years ago. We were concerned about what value to put on her because we were sure that customs would not believe a $1.00 purchase price - she was an old, retired show horse and in excellent condition. We actually increased her value in order to not cause any problems for the hauler at the border. I wonder how many people actually have to do that! They just have a mentality that everyone is trying to hoodwink them....
                        Yep, the last couple of years, we were given several ponies for free...well known ponies. The commercial shipper advised putting at least a $1,000 value on them for fear that customs would question it. I ended up having to pay $50 tax, but was OK with that rather than the possible alternative of a problem at the border for the shipper.
                        Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
                        Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks so much for all the answers! I really appreciate it. I've forwarded this thread to the buyer and I think she is trying to get a broker to deal with it all. As far as the documents from the vet, that's easy; my vet is very familiar with them.

                          But let's say I was leasing a mare to a friend in Canada -- do you still have to pay a tax on something like that?

                          I ask because I do have breeder friends (AKhal-Teke) up North and one women leased at least 5 horses from American Teke breeders to use. I wonder how they handle that?

                          Right now the big deal for the poor gal is simply finding a shipper! She's only found one (an American) and he's pretty spendy. It's a tough route to fill, I guess.

                          As far as the border crossing that will be used -- I'm not sure. She is in Drayer (?) Alberta; I am at the tip of Idaho. Bonner's Ferry, ID is the closest American town to the border and it's about 20 miles from the line and 50 miles from me.

                          Anyone know any good shippers up North that they can recommend?


                          • #14
                            Kyz, I think there might be an exemption or process when the horse is being returned to the US...my DSO works for a broker, but they do not generally deal with livestock - still, he might know
                            One other thing that a former friend ran into was claiming prices vs. on-paper prices for racing TBs. They are not the same!
                            Horses were running, let's say for a $5K tag...but were worth $2500 max (making these numbers up for the sake of the story). Well, border got ugly about it and did not take her lower amount as truth, contacted the former trainer...importer ended up having to pay on the claiming price rather than the actual price of the horses.
                            Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
                            Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


                            • #15
                              Has she tried contacting Elliott Equine http://elliottequine.com/ ? I used them to ship a yearling from Oklahoma to Alberta in 2012 and he arrived in excellent shape. From what I understand they do a fair bit of hauling back and forth between the USA and Canada. They also have a link to a customs broker on their website and info on all of the paperwork which needs to be in order.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                                But let's say I was leasing a mare to a friend in Canada -- do you still have to pay a tax on something like that?
                                We have leased horses a fair bit from the U.S. Remember, tax is only charged on the purchase price of the animal. If the animal hasn't been sold, no tax can be charged I make sure the owner writes a letter (for customs) explaining the horse is coming to Canada on a free lease and also list the timeline of the lease. I've never had a problem!
                                Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
                                Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


                                • #17
                                  Thank you Daventry!! I'm leasing a stallion and haven't been able to get the info from the border people about that. They all have no idea or tell me different things when I call :S
                                  Wonderful ponies for family or show!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Daventry
                                    I will never use Elliott Equine again after a horrible experience with them last year! It started with booking a trip and having them push back the date and bush back the date and then called me, out of the blue, and said they were on their way to pick up the pony and were about an hour away!!! It just went downhill from there. Have started hearing many other not so good stories as well. I have heard through the grapevine they are trying to sell the business. At one time, they were good, but now seem to be taking on too many horses to too many destinations on one trip! I also had a client have a terrible experience with them as well last year.
                                    I used them in October 2012 and it should have actually been September when they had picked up the yearling. A person who purchased a gelding I was riding just used them in February to ship the gelding to the USA. Both times the anticipated pick up date was postponed which was certainly frustrating however both times the horses arrived at their destination looking great.

                                    My biggest concern is the wellbeing of the horses during the trip and although it should be a given that their wellbeing is top of mind of the shipper after reading some of the COTH horror stories about haulers I will take one that is not the best at scheduling.

                                    Daventry if you can recommend other haulers that ship across North America that are both punctual as well as providing quality care throughout the haul I would be interested in knowing who they are incase I have to have another horse hauled in the future.


                                    • #19
                                      shippers tend to be less punctual in the fall/winter out west- weather plays a big role. Have her call Perry Transport, they are very well known in Canada and could maybe do it. 1-800-263-2396. They will also have the broker stuff down and Lynn can explain to her what she needs to tell them.
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