I’m also running a giveaway on Goodreads, with the chance to win a free paperback.
Speaking of paperbacks, I’m waiting for a shipment from CreateSpace so I can sell direct to friends and colleagues locally. Yesterday I got an email from DHL Canada requesting some details from me before the shipment can clear customs. When I looked at the form they sent me, everything looked easy except the last line where they ask me for my Business Registration Number with the note that my company must be registered as an importer in order to get a release.
Holy fees and forms, Batman! I started to panic. I felt like my small box of books was being held hostage by kidnappers, and fully expected the cost of releasing it to far outweigh the value of the package. However, I decided long ago to treat this writing lark properly as a business, so I gritted my teeth and prepared to do battle once more with the bureaucracy involved.
When I decided to self-publish, I chose to make things official. Not that I ever expect to make enough to buy anything more than a cup of coffee, but, ya know, just in case... So here is a quick summary for anyone else thinking of doing the same in Canada.
Because I’m operating under my own name as a sole proprietor I don’t need to register my business in BC, but I do have a business license to operate in my municipality. This is what I regard as making me “official.”
Being “official” brings benefits. I get to claim legitimate expenses against tax, and as a sole proprietorship the process is easy in Canada, just an additional form to submit along with my personal tax return. I was also able to get an Employer Identification Number with the US IRS - an easy thing to do over the phone rather than the horrendous process to get an Individual Tax Identification Number - so I don’t get dinged US tax at source.
In BC, businesses have two sales taxes to deal with. Luckily books are exempt from BC’s Provincial Sales Tax, and I’d love to have the kind of turnover that would require me to account for the Goods & Services Tax, so I never expected to have to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency.
All that changed last night, because CRA is the body that issues Business Registration Numbers.
I did some research and found to my relief that the process is fairly painless, and free! Having already laid the groundwork, I was able to go to the CRA website and say “Yes, I’m a business.” They asked lots of questions about name and contact details several times over, which was irksome but not difficult. A little while later, I had my Business Number, which is a nine-digit number that uniquely identifies businesses in Canada. You then ask for relevant “Program Accounts” depending on what activities you need to have associated with your business. Most often, businesses will need an account for GST, but in this case I needed to register an account as an importer of goods. And that was it! I am now officially an importer, and I had the information I needed to finish off DHL’s form.
Now, hopefully, I can get my grubby mitts on my books. After all, the package has only been sitting in DHL’s warehouse for 11 days before they deigned to contact me!
Have any of you had to deal with officialdom just to get supposedly easy things done? How did things work for you?