If you are not a resident of Canada, please review this section carefully! 

There are two components to crossing the border - (1) the goods side of things (Customs, Duty, etc.), controlled by Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), and (2) the people side of things (visas, work permits, etc.), controlled by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC.),

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA)


The Vancouver International Guitar Festival has been officially recognized by the CBSA International Events and Convention Services Program.

This means that Non-Canadian exhibitors may import display items temporarily as outlined in the provisions of tariff classification 9993.00.00.00 duty free, on the condition that the goods will be exported from Canada upon the completion of the event. 

To ensure a smooth entry process at the border, foreign exhibitors should present the following documents to Border Services Officers when arriving at the Canadian border:

1) CBSA's Letter of Recognition: Please download via the button below.

2) An itemized list of goods including a description, country of origin, quantity and value.


If your event materials will be imported by a commercial carrier or courier service, a copy of the two documents referenced above (the CBSA Letter of Recognition and your list of itemized goods) should be attached to any shipping documents.  It may help to include a short notice on the list that specifies: “Goods are to be temporarily imported for display and demonstration purposes only, not for sale in Canada.”

If you have any questions on the importation of goods related to this event, you may also contact the International Events and Conventions Services Program  (IECSP) at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).


Since this event is ultimately an Exhibition, and not a Marketplace, it is best that, when you’re crossing the border, you do not indicate any intention of selling your instruments at the event; otherwise, you will need to pay Duties and Taxes up front, as well as apply for a Work Permit

We did discuss with the CBSA contact that an exhibition attendee may offer to purchase an instrument. If you do have customers interested in purchasing your instruments at the show, you have two options:

Option 1 (recommended): From the CBSA perspective, it is easier for you to take the sales order, bring the instrument home and then ship it to the customer. 

Option 2: If you sell a physical item at the event, before leaving Canada, you must report the sale to Canada Customs and pay duty at any of these offices:

  • Downtown Vancouver: 1611 Main Street (at Terminal), 4th Floor, Vancouver, BC

  • By Vancouver International Airport (not inside it, down the road): 5000 Miller Road, Richmond, BC

  • Pacific Highway Border Crossing: 28 176th Street, Surrey BC (Note, for this office the CBSA office is on the east side of the street right before the US Border. If they go too far they will go through the US border.)

As a recap, there are two components to crossing the border - the people side of things (Immigration, which includes Work Permits), and the goods side of things (Customs Duty).

You can avoid the need for a Work Permit by explaining to the border official you have no  intention to sell. However, if a sale takes place while you’re at the exhibition, you need to follow the options above.

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

What you need will depend on where you are from, how you are travelling, and what documents you are travelling with.

Please visit the Government of Canada's website to review entry requirements from your country: 

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA):  As of November 10, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. Exceptions include U.S. citizens, and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents are not eligible to apply for an eTA.