Importing Apparel Products: 101

Ever think about starting your own fashion company and dream of bring beautiful garments from around the world to consumers? It's a complicated process, but can be worthwhile if done right. 

Let's assume you have already done a business plan with a comprehensive business model and marketing plan. You have found a supplier, developed your designs and picked your fabric and colours. You've gone through your sample order. Now it's time to import. 

Make sure you have a good supplier in this. ULLO's suppliers are excellent, and helped me overcome the learning curve. Call the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) if you struggle navigating their sight and figuring out the tariffs, because it is not straight forward to find. 

  Make sure you know the following about the products you are importing:

  • Tariff Classification 
    • A tariff is a tax placed on a good comping from another country that is paid to the importing country's government. Each good has a different classification number and subject to a different tax rate, depending on how the protectionist economic policy in the industry. 
  • International Trade agreement the country of export falls into 
    • i.e. many countries fall into different categories and can be eligible for a free trade agreement (i.e. you pay no import taxes, but fyi you still pay tax on top of that), a reduction in tax rate (for developing nations) or be susceptible to full tariff rates. 
  • Necessary trade documents necessary for importation
    • Bill of Landing 
    • Certificate of Origin (this is the most important document)
    • B255 Certificate for Apparel products (those codes starting with 50 - 60)
  • B2 Forms
    • These are necessary to understand because if your broker makes a mistake you will need to apply for a rebate to the government, which is a bureaucratic nightmare.     

If you have a fashion company you also need to organize the following:

  • Business Number
  • Incorporation Number
  • HST Number
  • Import Number (all of these are the same the business number, just with different additional numbers added to the original) 
  • CA number (a number many bigger companies put on as a sticker on the inside of the garment by the washing instructions tag)
  • Country of Origin 
  • Fabric properties, size and washing instructions are optional but recommended 
  • French and English is a necessary if going National 

That's just getting products into the country, the easy part. After you have done product design and marketing strategies, and now have the goods in hand. It is making revenue and gaining loyal customers that is the challenging part. 

Good luck importers. 

Thanks for reading.

Light & Love,