Yesterday, while trying to get to the Amherst Railway Society Train Show in Springfield, I was held at the US border for 3.5 hours and in the end decided to turn around and go home. The CBP agent was requesting documentation from me that I did not have and was not readily available at home for my wife to fax to me.
The issue mostly seemed to be that my kit boxes and parts bags were not marked with "Made in Canada". Technically he is correct but I have yet to establish if that label would be correct. In truth all the kit parts are sourced from US suppliers and I box them. Which is why my importation paperwork stated the goods as US origin.
The agent then asked for copies of my invoices from said suppliers. It was at that point I said forget it, I'm going home. It would take me a hour or more of going through my files to dig out the requested paperwork, not something I could have asked my wife to do.
This agent was bound and determined to not let me into the USA, I am convinced. I'm also a tad miffed at my broker since they're are paid to assist me with having correct paper work.
I do not understand the obstructive attitude that US CBP agents have towards small business attempting to enter the US. It's not like I'm smuggling drugs, guns, or human slaves.
A small model railroad business is a threat to the US economy and it's post 2014 recovery?
I have tried talking to US officials about entry requirements and have been treated with contempt and downright rudeness. These people who adjudicate the rules are under no obligation, it seems, to explain the rules or direct you to one who can.
And try and find a Canadian official who will explain the requirements for package labeling.
What I need to know really is at what point in the process dose my efforts convert US origin goods into a Canadian origin product. And if not how should the package be labeled? Do I now have to travel with a stack of invoices from my suppliers to prove where the grabirons, brake parts and turnbuckles come from?
When I was a child in school, we were taught that Canada and the US hosted the worlds longest undefended border. And that our "friendship" was the envy of the world.
To which, today, I say "really?" Try running a business in North America.
I call BULLSHIT.