Bringing Books Into Canada

When I signed up for Anticipation, the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, I avoided trying to get a table in the dealer room to sell my books. I suspected the taxes, customs, and assorted paperwork was more than I wanted to deal with.

However, I certainly wanted to have several copies of my books on hand to show when I was talking and presenting. Leaving town I had about fifty, heavy on my two award-winning titles and about five each of the others. I wanted enough to handle visiting a few random bookstores in the States as well as enough for any agents, editors, and reviewers who might be interested. And I might sell a few as well.

I was glad I was stocked, because my first stop in Amarillo, my Aunt Joy, with no Internet interest at all, had been left out of my book announcements and I was happy to be able to give her a set, autographed.

Then stopping at Chamberlain, SD, I was able to donate a couple of FB’s to libraries. Now on to Canada.

Although I had researched Canadian customs online, it was puzzling. Since I had the time, I approached Portal ND with an eye to discovering what I needed to do. I made no attempt to hide anything and when she asked the question about commercial items, I tried to explain about the books. She sent me into the office where Mary Ann and I explained it again. This lady was new, and her boss was on vacation, so she took more notes and made a phone call.

At first, she was prepared to deny entry of my books into Canada, the theory that I had no work permit, and thus couldn’t legally sell them. I hurriedly explained that no selling would be happening. A few of the books would go to reviewers with no cash changing hands. We made a second phone call, and that theory passed. We got our yellow slip stamped and we were handed back to the first lady who had to inspect the car.

I noticed that she took a particularly long time flipping through a copy of “Roswell or Bust”, but in the end, she said normally I’d have to pay import duties on the books, but today was our lucky day and she waved us on.

So, should I try to sell books at a Canadian convention in the future, I’ll need to file for a workers permit three months in advance (she told me, to allow processing time), and expect to pay import duties on them. Good to know, and a good excuse to avoid the temptation. I should stick to selling through wholesalers who are used to that paperwork.