So maybe you’ve been seriously considering taking your meeting to an international destination. Yet start thinking about all the different destinations around the globe and their various shipping, customs and tax policies, and chances are you might come away feeling intimidated and confused. But if you’re ready to venture outside of U.S. borders, there’s no better way to dip your toe in the water than by holding a meeting in Canada.
Beautiful, diverse and hospitable, this friendly neighbor to the north is a great baby step for adventurous groups. Besides being business-friendly and easy to access from most U.S. cities, Canada is also home to several top-notch meetings and convention destinations. And although there may be a few different protocols to keep in mind when taking a meeting there, by simply following the rules and partnering with the appropriate tourism and government agencies, you’ll realize how simple the process can be. In fact, taking your event to Canada is actually a lot easier than you’d think!
Here are some things to do and consider when taking a meeting beyond the 49th parallel:
Link Up With the Canadian CVB
Whether you want to hold an event in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, make teaming up with the CVB your first step. No one understands doing business in Canada like these destination experts, so let them educate and guide you through the process. Government agencies such as the Canadian Tourism Commission and the Canada Border Services Agency are also invaluable resources to take advantage of.
Send a Letter of Introduction and Update Passports
Several months to a year in advance you’ll want to reach out to the CBSA with a letter of introduction that gives a quick overview of your event, allowing it to be recognized as a foreign meeting (to qualify, 75 percent or more of your delegates must be non-Canadian). The CBSA will send you a confirmation letter authorizing onsite border clearance privileges, which allows your goods to be delivered, opened and cleared at the event site. And make sure your delegates know that they’ll need current passports to get across the border and back again!
Canadian Shipping and Customs Details
Besides having to pay a customs duty on your freight, shipping materials to Canada is a lot less painful than you’d imagine. To make the process even easier, hire a trade show customs broker who will work with the CBSA on your behalf, act as your designated representative when your goods arrive in Canada and guide you through the customs process. Among their many helpful services, customs brokers can arrange border-to-show service, in which your materials will be shipped into the country from your company headquarters, to the event site and back again, saving you time and money – and headaches!
Canadian Taxes and Rebates
Domestic taxes in Canada consist of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which is a tax used by many provinces that combines sales taxes and the GST. Since taxes can really eat into an event budget, Canada has created a generous rebate program for foreign conventions that allows qualified groups to attain tax refunds on many event-related goods and services.
Just Go For It!
If you’re still under the misconception that taking your event to Canada is going to be more complicated and expensive, think again! Although there are some factors to keep in mind, this country wants your business and will do whatever they can to make your experience as easy, cost-effective and successful as possible. So when you’re ready to take that first step uncharted territory, look no further than that friendly country to the north. You’ll be singing “Oh Canada” in no time!
For information about Canadian meetings and convention cities and to connect with a Canadian destinations expert, please visit www.empowermint.com