Helpful Tips

helpful meeting tips

Event Recognition with Canada Board Service Agency (Canada Customs)

We recommend our convention groups advise Canada Border Services Agency (Canada Customs) details of their event especially their tradeshow component and their exhibitor materials/equipment entering Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has a distinctive program that provides event organizers with timely, border-related advice during the planning process of their international or domestic event with foreign participation. This program called the International Events and Convention Services Program (IECSP) is designed to educate international event delegates about Canada's visitor and goods admissibility requirements in support of national security and public safety priorities while facilitating the free flow of admissible people and goods arriving at events in Canada.

Some Easy Steps to follow when holding an event in Vancouver, Canada:

  1. Letter of Recognition: Advise CBSA of your meeting/event in Canada. We recommend that you submit your Letter of Recognition to CBSA 8-12months before your Vancouver Meeting. Within 3-6 weeks of submitting your letter you will receive a response letter from the CBSA. We recommend you post that letter on your website for exhibitors and attendees to download/print and have with them when crossing the border. This will allow a smooth seamless border crossing for your attendees, exhibitors and staff.
  2. Register your Meeting with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Website: It is recommended that an International Conference contact and register their meeting with the CIC office to help expedite any delegates who require a VISA to attend the conference.
  3. VISA Applications for International Delegates: Any countries listed on CIC website link would require a VISA to enter Canada and attend a conference.

Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program - GST Rebate

Canada offers a value added program to foreign meeting and conventions. Recognizing the importance of foreign conventions held in Canada, you are eligible to claim back the sales tax called the GST (Goods & Services Tax) comprising of 5% from the Canada Revenue Agency on certain meeting related services and supplies. In order to qualify as a Foreign Convention, the conference organization must be headquartered outside of Canada and attendees comprise of 75% non-Canadian residents.

Below is a list of meeting related supplies and services that are eligible for the GST Rebate.

  • Meeting Space Rental
  • Exhibition Space Rental
  • Exhibition Space Decorating
  • Accommodations - on guestrooms billed to the MASTER ACCOUNT for the organization (not available for individual delegate rooms).
  • Audio-visual - audio , audio visual, and video services, and both equipment and labour associated with technical services
  • Business equipment - computers, photocopiers, desks, and chairs
  • Convention materials - banners, flags, signs, papers, shields, floral arrangements, stand decorations, backdrops and other decorations, and office supplies
  • Convention show property and services - equipment, furnishings, and labour to install such items as carpeting, tables, chairs, exhibit booths, plants, draping, banners, displays, and signs
  • Destination management companies - local planning management and co-ordination services in organizing elements of the convention for the incoming organization
  • Electrical services - equipment and labour for electrical services
  • *Food & Beverage functions - only half of the GST (2.5%) can be claimed and must have a meeting component attached.

Steps to Claim Back the GST:

An organizer must provide the following supporting documents with its rebate claim to confirm that the event is a convention and to prove that the organizer paid the GST charges by the supplier:

Mail the completed FORM 386 and all supporting documents to:
Summerside Tax Centre
Canada Revenue Agency
275 Pope Road
Summerside PE C1N 6A2

Please note that the organizer has one year from the Vancouver conference date to claim back the GST. Once you submit your claim Canada Revenue Agency will process within 8-10 weeks.

For more detailed information and further instructions, please refer to their website at: 

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