Warning on Moving Precious Metals Into Canada

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I recently heard from a reader who related a disturbing incident when attempting to enter Canada from the United States with a quantity of gold coins.

This individual declared the coins to the Canadian immigration official and was immediately detained for secondary inspection. After a brief wait in a holding area he was interrogated for nearly an hour.

Questions included,

  • “Why are you bringing gold into Canada?” When this individual told the Customs officials that he merely planned to place the gold coins in his Canadian safety deposit box, they didn’t believe him
  • “Do you own a home in the United States?”
  • “Have you ever been arrested for any crime?”

Unfortunately for this gentleman, he had a U.S. arrest record dating back to the 1970s, which he neglected to mention. Since Canadian immigration officials now have access to U.S. criminal records, they quickly discovered the arrest. On that basis, the officials denied him entry into Canada.

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Once it became clear that he wouldn’t be permitted to enter Canada, the officials became more cooperative. They even allowed him to spend the night at a local hotel, after temporarily confiscating his passport. When he returned to the airport the next day for a flight back to the United States, they returned his passport, along with his gold coins.

This is a disturbing development for at least three reasons:

  1. It’s absolutely legal to import gold coins or other precious metals into Canada, so long as it’s declared to a customs inspector. In some cases Canadian goods and services tax is due, although no payment is due on importation of 99.9% pure gold coins – the type this gentleman attempted to bring into Canada.
  2. To prevent this type of incident from occurring, this gentlemen conducted extensive correspondence with Canadian customs officials. Indeed, the day before his trip he had spoke to a senior official who assured him that as long as he declared the coins at the border there would be no problems importing the gold. Obviously, this was not the case.
  3. Judging by the types of questions asked, Canadian customs officials apparently believed this individual planned to sell the gold in Canada, convert the proceeds to cash, and then engage in some sort of money laundering operation. This was a ludicrous suggestion, because the quantity of gold he was trying to import was relatively small. Nonetheless, it demonstrates that Canadian customs officials have become hyper-sensitive to Americans attempting to import precious metals.

In the end, I think it was the fact that this person lied about his arrest for a misdemeanor offense decades ago in the United States that led to his exclusion from Canada. Without that arrest, it’s possible that he would have been permitted to proceed.

Have you attempted to bring precious metals from the United States into Canada? If so, were you allowed into the country? Please comment below on your experience.

November 26, 2010

Mark Nestmann is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience and is a charter member of The Sovereign Society's Council of Experts. He has authored over a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation, privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his own international consulting firm, The Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business Administration.