My company is hosting an event in Whistler, B.C., and will be employing an American band as entertainment for the event. I understand that they will need a Letter of Invitation, but does the band need to show a contract for performance at customs? Do you see any other issues with them crossing?
Any border crossing is fraught with several “issues.” In order to facilitate the border crossing of an American band into Canada, the following issues should be considered:
- Obviously, a passport or other acceptable form of travel document will be required at the border.
- A Letter of Invitation from the employer in Canada is required because the band members will be considered as business visitors. The letter must include information about the person(s) being invited including full names, dates of birth (if known), purpose of the trip, and length of time in Canada. The Letter of Invitation should be on organizational letterhead and include a brief description of the event, as well as the employer, and be signed by a responsible person in the organization. If group members are not arriving together, everyone in the group should have a copy of the Letter of Invitation.
- In addition to the Letter of Invitation, an American group coming into Canada should have with them a copy of their performance contract.
- At the border, the group members will normally be asked the purpose of their trip, how long they will be in Canada, where they will be staying, what they do for a living, and if they have anything to declare. They may have to confirm that they will be returning to the US (showing a return flight reservation, for example).
- If the group is bringing in equipment into the country, then they should, at the very least, have an itemized inventory of the gear. Also, get the list stamped at US Customs before entering Canada, so that when the group returns to the US, there will be no problems bringing the equipment back into the country.
- If the group is bringing in CDs or other promotional items, they need to be declared at the border and properly labeled with country of manufacture. Having a copy of the manufacturing invoice is recommended. Customs duties may apply, based on the manufacturing price, not on the sale price. If the items are for promotional purposes they should be labeled: “For Promotion ONLY; Not for Sale.”
- If anyone in the group has a criminal record (felony or misdemeanor), including past driving under the influence (DUI) violations, this may impede entry. If it has been less than five years since a charge or conviction, persons will be deemed “criminally inadmissible” to Canada and a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is required, instead of a work permit. If five years have passed, the person may apply for “Individual Rehabilitation.” However, individuals from visa-exempt countries (e.g., the US) who have a single misdemeanor offense for which they were not sentenced to imprisonment, may be issued a TRP at the Canadian port of entry at the discretion of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). For more details about entering Canada with a criminal record visit: www.cfmusicians.org/services/work-permits.
- A final consideration is the fact that there is a regulatory 15% withholding on fees to foreign artists in Canada. To avoid this withholding, artists can apply for an R-105 waiver at least 45 days before the performance date.
We welcome foreign artists in Canada and hope their border crossings are made easier by dealing with these considerations.
I welcome your questions and concerns. Please write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.