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Importing to McMaster University

Our commitment is to facilitate a smooth and efficient process from Supplier to Receiver, while maintaining customs compliance for the University.

When a shipment is released from Canada customs, customs does more than just collect the duties/taxes. They verify the information we present and may consult with other government agencies for permits, certificates, licenses, authorizations or other documentation for imported goods, depending on the commodity. If any step in the process fails due to inaccurate or missing information, customs will not release the shipment for deliver until resolved.

Here are some things to consider prior to your order:

Expandable List

There are several types of import controls which apply to certain types of goods. Failure to have the appropriate approvals, by way of an import permit or license, prior to the shipment being made, will result in the refusal of entry into Canada. It is possible that seizure, forfeiture and destruction will occur, depending on the type of good involved.

Import Permits cannot be obtained once a shipment reaches Canada

It is the responsibility of the end user of the controlled material to apply for most import permits. Often this is with the involvement of the Biosafety Office and the Customs Office. Please refer to the Biosafety website.

  • Have the completed import permit on hand prior to shipment of your order. This will avoid shipments being destroyed or returned to sender upon arrival in Canada.
  • If you are unsure whether or not the incoming product requires a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Import Permit, please contact:
  • ????  If you are Unsure if said good you with to import requires an Import Permit from the whether or not the incoming product requires a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Import Permit, please contact:

Jennifer Robertson in the Biosafety Office: &
John Bentley in the Customs & Traffic Department:

Most shipments are being sent (Import or Export) from a company or institution. It is imperative all documents have the receiving company or institutions name. All couriers will deliver to the address as long as it matches the postal or zip code.


If you are offsite:

Receiver Name: Please list “McMaster University” as the Receiver institution name.

Address: Your physical receiving address, including: your building, room number, department, name, phone number and extension.

For example, if you are located at St Joseph’s Hospital, your receiver address would be:

McMaster University
50 Charlton Ave East, Room T1110
Hamilton, ON L8N 4A6
(Contact name & phone number)


  • Couriers use the name of the Receiver institution (i.e. McMaster University) to determine the correct customs broker to contact for customs release. Using a name other than McMaster University may result in customs delays.
  • Regardless of who places the order, the receivers contact name should be the Principal Investigator. This will allow the Customs office to quickly contact the receiver of the package.
  1. Reference your Project Number as the Purchase Order number with the vendor.
  2. Notify as soon as you complete your order. Provide the name of the vendor, the product(s) ordered, and the Chart Field for the customs charges.

Expedite Customs Clearance

  • FedEx shipments can often be released from customs overnight for next day delivery rather than the standard 48 hours.
  • In order to expedite clearance within 24 hours, we require a copy of the shipper’s Commercial Invoice and FedEx waybill before 3pm EST the day it is shipped.
  • Please note, expedited clearance is not guaranteed. If your product is perishable, the shipper must pack enough dry ice/cold packs to last at least 48 hours in transit if shipping from the USA, or 72 hours if shipping from overseas.
  • If we are unable to get the shipment released within 24 hours, we can request to have the shipment placed in a cooler (4 – 8 degrees Celsius) if shipped via FedEx.

Expedite Delivery

  • We can provide expedited same day delivery (once the shipment has released customs) for an additional delivery cost of $55 CAD.

Did the Vendor bill you HST?

  • If you purchased a product and the vendor billed you HST, McMaster is not responsible for customs clearance into Canada. You will end paying taxes twice. To avoid delay of your shipment, notify immediately.

Did you order from a Canadian Company?

  • VWR and Cederlane are companies that often have the product you purchased shipped from a supplier in the USA directly to McMaster. Most of the time, McMaster is notified to release the shipment with customs.
  • If you receive notification from the customs office asking for information about an order purchased from a Canadian company, please advise the copmpany you have ordered from and provide the reference number for your order in the response.

Why are you receiving e-mails from or the procurement department?

  • When releasing/declaring your order/collaboration (shipment) to customs, there are mandatory requirements we have to adhere to. If these are not met, a monetary penalty is assessed against the University and your help in the matter to avoid this is greatly appreciated.
  • Detailed Description – we are required to classify every product with Canada customs. Classification is a highly detailed process.
    The more information we have about your product, the more accurate the classification and the less likely McMaster will be penalized for an inaccurate declaration to Canada customs.
  • Additional Costs – handling fees, stocking fees, customization fees, admin fees, warranty fees, and some assembly fees must be declared to Canada customs.
  • McMaster Chart Field – used to pay customs charges (brokerage, GST and if applicable, duty) at the time of declaration to customs.
  • Value – All goods have a value, even if they were provided at no charge. Did the vendor create proper shipping documents with correct value? When you look at the attachment in the e-mail, please verify and if incorrect, please send a copy of the bill of sale or sales receipt.


No personal shipments are to be ordered from abroad and sent to McMaster. According to the CBSA, McMaster is responsible for the applicable customs charges on anything shipped to McMaster.

Instead, personal shipments must go to a personal address, or, choose hold for pick up at the couriers depot.