Retail Sales Tax Exemption for Foreign Entities, Representatives and Officials

Tax Tip
Published: August 2012
Content last reviewed: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4606-0060-3 (HTML)

This information will help you understand how Retail Sales Tax (RST) applies to specified vehicles purchased privately in Ontario or brought into or delivered in Ontario from another province and to certain insurance premiums and benefit plans. Material contained in this Tax Tip replaces RST Guide #803 - Foreign States, Representatives and Officials.

Eligibility

The department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) authorizes certain foreign entities and representatives/officials to receive an exemption from Ontario’s Retail Sales Tax (RST).

The exemption is available to:

  • entities of foreign states (i.e., a diplomatic mission, foreign embassy and high commission, a consular post, or a political subdivision of a foreign state)
  • an international organization, as defined by the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act (Canada), such as the United Nations agencies
  • an authorized foreign representative or official, assigned to one of the above entities, who has been issued an identity card by DFATD
  • the spouse of an authorized foreign representative or official, who has been issued an identity card by DFATD.

Individuals authorized to claim the exemption are issued identity cards by DFATD with one of the following card types identified on the front:

  • 'D', 'C' and 'I'
  • 'J' - only if titled 'Admin and Tech Staff' or 'Consular Employees'.

Eligible individuals are entitled to the RST exemption regardless of the fact that the cards may no longer indicate 'ON' on the back and may instead show the text 'NO TAX EXEMPTION'.

These identity cards may be used only by the person to whom they have been issued. Vendors must verify the expiry date on the front of the card.

The RST exemption available to foreign representatives/officials and their spouses, does not extend to their children.

For example, the holder of a 'J' card with the title 'DTR/Admin & Tech Staff' (DTR means daughter) does not qualify for the RST exemption.

Private Purchases of Specified Vehicles

When claiming the exemption on specified vehicles purchased privately, the foreign representative or official is required to show their identity card, issued by DFATD, to the ServiceOntario Centre at the time of registration of the vehicle.

Where the purchaser is a foreign entity, documentation (i.e., letter of accreditation from DFATD) must be provided to the ServiceOntario Centre.

Insurance and Benefits Plans

When claiming the exemption on taxable premiums of insurance or benefits plans, the foreign representative or official is required to show their identity card, issued by DFATD, to the vendor at the time the contract is entered into.

To record tax-exempt sales, vendors should note in their records:

  • the identification number on the purchaser's card
  • the name and designation/official title of the purchaser, and
  • a brief description of what was sold.

Where the purchaser is a foreign entity or international organization, a valid Purchase Exemption Certificate must be provided to the vendor. The vendor must retain this document in their records to support the exempt sale.

For More Information

If you need more information on RST please contact us.

  • Telephone: 1 866 ONT-TAXS (1 866 668‑8297)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY) 1 800 263‑7776

Written Interpretation

To obtain a written interpretation on a specific situation not addressed in this publication, please send your request in writing to: Ministry of Finance, Advisory, Objections, Appeals and Services Branch, 33 King Street West, 3rd Floor, Oshawa ON L1H 8H5.

To confirm the validity of an identity card, please contact the department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada at 613 944‑0096 or 613 944‑1159.

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