Welcome to the worldly adventures of SEVEN

SEVEN is a collective of multi-disciplined artists from rural Nova Scotia. Collaboration is the foundation for creativity, where each artist responds artistically in her own medium to a selected theme. Through collective discourse, various elements combine to form a much richer body of thought - adding new and perhaps unforeseen levels of creativity and interpretation.

Rurally routed to their tidal landscape, SEVEN knows, what goes out, does come in.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Customs...required homework.

Earlier this year I took the opportunity to join an In Market Educational Export program travelling to Chicago with NSBI. I wanted to have the experience of travelling with ‘samples’ and making my way through customs as well as learning the ins and outs of exporting. The Centre for Women in Business had provided a workshop to inform 7, The Artists Collective what we needed to research before our Danish adventure.

I was bringing jewellery samples and could have adorned my body, my travelling companions and my suitcase to avoid this step at customs but what would I have gained? This way I was able to see the inner sanctums, meet some eventually friendly agents and have a personal escort by the head of the U S port authority to the boarding area!

Preparations. Use your business letterhead and make an itemized and detailed list of all samples including prices. Take copies of the list. That I did. Declare that I am bringing in commercial samples. That I did. (This puts up a yellow flag for each inspector.) No problem…as I knew I had followed the right steps. So my first jewellery showing was on the moving belt. Too bad these folks have to remain so stone faced. I don’t know if he was impressed with my work or not but he did think it worthy enough to ask me to show it to the fellow at the next desk. The red flag was thrown down.

Jewellery showing # 2. “Do you have a carnet?” he says. “What?” I say. “I guess not” he says. And the conversation carries on mostly about the fact that I will definitely be bringing the samples back…Not Selling Them. He feels I should meet another member of the team ... so I am escorted into the next room behind the frosted glass doors. This is a large room with a waiting area, a few tall desks with computers and no people. I take my seat and check the time. In a few minutes I am greeted by a gentleman who asks for my passport and I wait patiently while all the details are entered in the computer. We carry on the same conversation about my intentions with the samples. He is convinced I should be able to take them but maybe I haven’t used the right forms. He’ll just call in the new head of  Homeland Security Halifax Airport and see what he thinks.

Jewellery Showing #3 This was my best showing yet! We had a great conversation about my use of recycled vinyl records, his love of music and Nova Scotia. His concern had shifted to Canada Border Services and how would I be able to get these back into Canada. They were both kind enough to be aware of my flight time. He sees no problem but will call an agent from Canada Border Services to join us at the boarding gate.
It was interesting, to say the least, to see the members of the trade mission watch me and my uniformed escort make our way through the lounge. We had met the previous week.

Another 10 minutes pass while we wait. He asks for my business card so he can show his wife my website. The previous inspector arrives with a paper. He has been searching the document ‘Importation of Commercial Samples'. It is a copy of page 12 and after reading this says I am good to go. The CBS agent arrives and says they have no problem either. I’ve got time left to grab a juice and a muffin, greet my travelling companions and let my red cheeks return to normal before boarding.

I did it an acceptable way but could have avoided this by visiting CBS and filing an E-15 or shipped the samples to arrive before me. A Carnet is only necessary with goods valued over $2000.00. Next time I will dot the i’s and cross the t’s twice! Good thing I had arrived the required 2 hours early for the flight. Denmark should be a breeze after this.  Pam


  1. Oh Pam;
    Example of a system designed for the worst in people rather than the best. Makes you wonder, huh?

  2. Thanks Pam for sharing your learning experience. I like how you stayed calm through the whole experience - staying calm and sticking to your knowledge that you are on the right track is a fabulous way of coping through interesting little intermezzos like this. Looking forward to experiencing all that fun firsthand when we head to Denmark in a very short little while.

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience! Something every artist should keep in mind if they send work internationally.