Border shopping questions - BACK & UPDATED

Discussion in 'Canadian Trip Planning & Community Board' started by Disney Addicted, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Disney Addicted

    Disney Addicted DIS Veteran

    Aug 29, 2011
    While I have been to the States twice in three years for vacations (and brought souveniors & things back via plane), I have not crossed the border for shopping in at least 20 years. So I was hoping some cross-border shoppers could answer a few questions please!

    I realize nothing we (my dad & I) bring back will be duty/tax free since we are only going for 2-3 hours. But that's not a problem, is it? We'll be allowed to just pay the duty/taxes and bring stuff back?

    We're not talking a huge amount by any means. An e-reader, a wii game and some books. My dad wants to pick up a bottle of rum. I would like to stop at the Wal-mart and pick up Mickey washcloths, bath rug & a wastebasket, maybe some scrapbooking/craft supplies. Plus some food items (juice, coffee, some snack stuff we do not get here).

    That reminds me, is there anything I'm NOT allowed to bring back grocery-wise? I think I have read that fruit is not allowed across the border. Anything else I should know about?
  2. CanuckTraveller

    CanuckTraveller Mouseketeer

    May 23, 2011
    It depends. I have crossed and shopped for the afternoon and paid GST on a few items, other times they waved me through. I'm fairly sure the bottle of rum will trigger some sort of payment, is there a reason why you'd want to buy the rum during this short trip?
    Here's the link to the complete list of things you can and cannot bring back from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the CBSA tarrifs
  3. Avatar


    to hide this advert.
  4. 5mouseketeersforus

    5mouseketeersforus Mouseketeer

    Dec 6, 2012
    Totally depends on the agent when you cross back. We are always honest with the amounts we purchase; one time it was over $500 for a quick trip across and they didn't pull us in. Another time it was $200 and we has to go & pay.

    No rhyme or reason and absolutely no way to predict it.
  5. mtmbyck

    mtmbyck I AM Canadian eh!

    Jan 2, 2005
    You should assume you will pay the extra tax and then hope to be surprised if they wave you through I'd check on the rum as I do not believe it is legal to bring back alcohol or tobacco in that short amount of time.
  6. gem21

    gem21 DIS Veteran

    Jun 19, 2010
    Like others have said it really depends.... most of the time the agents don't care and will just wave you through without having to pay anything. We normally only bring back groceries, so maybe it would be different with actual products.

    You can't bring back any fruits or vegetables, and I'm not sure but there may be some limit on meat.
  7. laura001

    laura001 DIS Veteran<br><font color=red>I had my birthday 2

    Mar 22, 2005
    I shop over the boarder usually once a month. I usually spend between 75 and 125 dollars, that would include 12 beer. I almost never get pulled in to pay tax. (probably 1 time in the last year or so)

    The bottle of Rum will probably get you pulled in. If you could leave the Rum out of your shopping you will probably stand a better chance.
  8. dsneygirl

    dsneygirl <font color=blue>My little pirate is here<br><font

    Jun 6, 2000

    Not illegal but you will pay through the nose on the rum. There is tax, duty, provincial alcohol markup etc, etc, You will probably pay double and maybe save a few $$$.

    Otherwise I agree with PP figure on paying 13% of everything you buy and be happy if you get waved through. Just be honest and have all your receipts handy.
  9. momof2gr8kids

    momof2gr8kids DIS Veteran

    Nov 17, 2009
    It depends on the border guard if they decide to send you in to pay. We've gotten waved through with a few hundred dollars and a bit of alcohol, and other times we've had to go pay on $75.

    Usually there is a duty free shop on the US side of the border that sells alcohol cheap. We usually get a 66oz of vodka for $10, and duty is $20. Not sure I'd want to cheap out on rum though. Vodka you can't taste it, so I don't mind the cheap stuff in my girlie drinks. Dh would never buy the cheap rye or rum though. So if you're paying more for a better quality brand, you might not really be saving anything. Plus usually if you have alcohol they haul you in to pay.

    Stuff like Crown Royal is cheaper at the duty free shop than in the liquor stores in the US.

    I don't think there's duty on groceries. There's usually a limit on dairy products though per person. I think it's $20. We've never paid on groceries at least. We always stock up on cheap chicken and cheese! LOL
  10. Disney Addicted

    Disney Addicted DIS Veteran

    Aug 29, 2011
    I'm sorry I was unable to reply soon. It was a very busy weekend, especially on Friday with a bunch of kids home (my own & daycare).

    Personally I don't care to bring back liquor, at least on this trip. My dad seems set on purchasing a bottle of rum. He knows he will have to declare it and pay duty & taxes, that's not a problem. I don't believe there will be any savings either.

    Thank you for the links CanuckTraveller.

    My groceries will be minimual. Since I'm only looking at juice and some canned/boxed goods it sounds like I should be good to go then. Thanks.

    We're heading out soon and I'll let you know how it worked out tomorrow. I'm really hoping my husband's book order arrived at usaddress... We never received an e-mail confirming shipping & a tracking number. By Friday usaddress was saying the package had not arrived (and we paid extra to ensure it would be there Friday!), not has the company responded to e-mails or phone calls. :mad:
  11. Sue M

    Sue M DIS Veteran

    May 27, 2009
    I never get pulled in just for groceries, and if there's a few items from clothing shopping it hasn't been a problem. But the rum may trigger it, then you'll have to pay duty on everything but food. Not just the rum. I'd try to convince him the rum isn't a good idea.
  12. myzel

    myzel Mouseketeer

    Oct 18, 2010
    Here is a web site to help you with what is tax/duty free on your return to Canada. There is no limit to what you may bring back for products that aren't restricted, you will be required to pay tax on imported goods.
  13. monkey30

    monkey30 Dreaming of my next vacation!

    Nov 1, 2009
    As for beer, it was cheaper for us to bring back 6 cases of it, pay the duty, then it was to buy it here! So it will all depend on the type of Rum youbuy and the duty u may pay, it can be worth it.
    As long as u are honest and tell them everything u have, u have nothing to worry about if you get pulled in.
  14. rjan67

    rjan67 Mouseketeer

    Jun 24, 2007
    Other than the liquor, of the things you mentioned you would only pay tax. There is some limitations on groceries (meat, eggs) but it isn't always enforced. I shop there weekly for groceries and usually declare what I have and am let through.
  15. MedicGoofy

    MedicGoofy DIS Veteran

    Jan 10, 2011
    Buy whatever you wish, and the only thing that will happen, is you'll end up paying duty/taxes on the purchases. As long as your not bringing back anything that's not allowed, then your good.

    I have purchased hundreds of dollars worth of items before in a single shopping trip, and the worst that happens, they pull you into the office and make you pay.

    The best thing that could happen, you get a very pleasent guard, and they let you through:) It has happened to me a lot.

    Just don't lie to them, if they pull you over and search your car, then you're in trouble.

    Have a fun shopping day!!!
  16. Disney Addicted

    Disney Addicted DIS Veteran

    Aug 29, 2011
    While Monday's border shopping trip started with a headache (literally - I slept horribly Sunday night), it went well. I was awake by 5:30 am and we were on the road by 7:30 am. I would have loved to slept longer but I have a daycare child that arrives early, plus needed to get all 3 kids ready so my husband just had to drive them to school later.

    Instead of driving along the 401 and down to the QEW, we exited and drove along Kingston Road to Woodbine, down to the lakeshore and onto QEW. Was it really quicker than the 401 in morning rush hour? I dunno... but I was not the driver. In fact, although I expected to drive at least half the trip, dad wanted to drive the entire time. Retired TTC driver - I think it's hard to lose control of the wheel. :drive:

    We arrived at usaddress by 10 am. Two and half hours of driving during rush hour. It was a short trip as we were home by 3:15 pm (1 3/4 hrs back).

    Dad had one package to pick up. My mom's Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. Which I like so much better than my Kobo! I had two packages. Or should I say, I was suppose to have two! One of my packages had not arrive! :( My husband ordered a bunch of books and we paid extra to have it arrive by Friday. Hopeful that it might still show up I said I would drop in again before we went home.

    Went to Wal-mart to pick up my order and did a bit more shopping. I have to say dad's presence really restrained me. I could hear his voice in my head questioning everything I picked up. Perhaps that was a good thing. In the end I came home a couple of Wii games I could not find here; a Skylander Giant for my son; rechargeable batteries ($7 cheaper); complete set of color & black ink ($28 cheaper!); red/white/black Mickey head washcloths; angry bird graham cookies; honeymaid grahamfuls; cinnamon teddy bears; M&M's; and every single container of Green Machine Naked Juice in stock. :woohoo: I love Naked Juice! I really wanted to stop at Tops and Target for more Naked Juice - but again, I could hear dad's voice muttering about needing all that juice in my head. No wait... this time it was for real! :rotfl2: Disappointed his grandson he did. My son keeps trying to hide the juice on me since I was only able to snag 7 bottles. However I did purchase a 1.89L of Blue Machine. Never knew Naked Juice came in large sizes. Blue Machine is tasty - should have bought more!

    In case you're wondering, in the fall I found I could order/purchase Naked Juice at Starbucks at $3.99 a small bottle. Wal-mart sold it for $2.48 same bottle! :banana: Yeah, I really wanted to get more before heading home! Ah well - next time.

    Next was lunch, at the Olive Garden of course. I ordered the portebello mushroom stuffed ravoli and found it came with unlimited soup & breaksticks. Dad only wanted soup, and my breadsticks. Their chicken & gnocchi soup is delicious! I restrained myself to 1 bowl and 1 breadstick. I was saving some room for one of their delicious looking desserts. But again, there was this distinct muttering coming from somewhere... :confused3 ;) Sigh - I didn't really need the calories anyways, right? I was amazed lunch only cost $20 including taxes! Well, $25 including the tip. The Olive Garden was offering a free $5 gift card with every $25 gift card purchased. Wonderful! I told our waitress I wanted $50's in gift cards (I'll be back) until I was told the extra $10 free gift cards expire sometime next month. Well, forget that then as I won't be back until fall - I hope.

    We missed the Supermarket liquor store but ended up at Larry's where dad purchased a 1L of Malibu coconut rum for $25. And yes, we were stopped when dad declared the rum! And holy heck! Like I said, dad was prepared to pay duty & tax AND PAY HE DID! $4.09 in duty - fine. $3.74 gst - fine. $17.22 for a provincial liquor mark-up fee??? :faint: So that $25 bottle cost another $25.05 at the border for a whopping $50! BTW, a 1140 ml (which is over 1L) can be bought here for $35. I checked. Shhh, don't tell my dad.

    Oh, and yes we stopped at usaddress on the way back to Canada. And no, no sign of those books! IF the books show up by Friday, then we may go back in February with the kids and spend a night at one of the waterpark hotels. I e-mailed usaddress this morning though, and so far the books are still not there. If still not by Friday, then I guess I'm making my first credit card dispute. Anyone do this with Visa or AMEX? I forget which one the charge went on.

    Whew, I can't believe how long this post! LOL - sorry.
  17. Cdn Gal

    Cdn Gal DIS Veteran

    Feb 24, 2008
    Next time don't go with your dad ;). Glad that you survived and got your juice. We go over at least once every two weeks if not more. We grocery shop, get our turkey and milk products over there since it is so much cheaper and always try and bring back some Florida oranges. Whatever you do, always declare what you bring back, they can do some nasty things to you such as confiscate your car and huge fines. We are a border town and know a few of the border guards, we hear all of the horror stories. We too have a US address and get great stuff shipped to us at a fraction of the price. Happy shopping! :)
  18. cdnSpinalTap

    cdnSpinalTap Mouseketeer

    Aug 9, 2007
    I know your questions have already been answered and you are back from your trip - but for future reference, remember that due to NAFTA, anything that is made in Canada, the US or Mexico can be brought back duty free. You are still required to pay GST and Provincial Tax according to the exemptions, but there should be no duty, regardless of how long you were across. I bought a $50,000 made in the US vehicle, was only in the US for one day and only paid GST.
  19. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

    Aug 3, 2010
    Cool, an SOB (South of the Border) Shopping Trip Report, complete with dining!

    Sounds like you had a good trip. We go South often even for only an hour of shopping in Ogdensburg NY, but ofter over to Watertown for the afternoon. It is hard to get back without a few hundred in our US favorites. Mio water flavours - yes we can FINALLY get them in Canada, but only 4 flavours; there must be 15 flavors in the US. Also get lots of Gluten Free stuff for DS - there are more brands, and much tastier. For the longest time we could only get Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mixes in the US, even though they were made in Canada!

    Anyway, did you pay tax on any of the other stuff, or just the liquor? Usually if they pull you in, they hit it all! You got off lucky if they didn't.

    As for the charge, go back to the vendor first before you dispute. Dispute with credit card issuer are only to be used when you couldn't resolve directly with the vendor, and you don't mention if you have done that yet. Most vendors are happy to admit when they have made a mistake and make it right. The vendor might agree to ship the rest of the way to you for free (although books can be tough at the border - some of the toughest import laws are for protection of our cultural industries, including publishing - that why amazon has a separate Canadian branch now.)
  20. Disney Addicted

    Disney Addicted DIS Veteran

    Aug 29, 2011
    LOL - it was more funny than anything. I knew before-hand but it was nice to get alone time with my dad. I got to hear about things in his past I never knew before.

    Thanks! I will keep that in mind. My husband & I would still like to take a day or weekend trip (without the kids) and do some serious shopping one day.

    Isn't it amazing the variety available in the states?

    Oh, it was not just the liquor. We paid tax on everything. I think my dad paid $15 on the Kindle Paperwhite. I paid only $20 on my stuff and I purchased around $225.

    I did e-mail AND phoned (answer machine, left msg) the vendor TWICE before heading to NY. I wanted a tracking number so I could see where the package was and when it arrived. They never responded and I never received the books. I checked with usaddress on Wednesday, and I'm waiting for a reply today to see if the package showed up. If not, I will e-mail & phone the vendor, letting them know the books never showed up after paying extra for fast shipping. Then if no reply, I will contact them again for a refund before calling the credit card company. I have kept all copies of e-mails sent to them, as well as usaddress e-mails.

    Since the books were being shipped from a NY address to another NY address, they should have arrived without problem. I did not realize that I could have issues once I was at the border though. That's interesting.

    Ohh, something I completely forgot about but was confusing. Gas! I'm so use to pumping, then going inside to pay. There you have to pay first. We wanted to pay cash. So I asked inside how it works. We wanted to fill the tank, but how do you know ahead of time how much it will cost? :confused3 The cashier told me to over-estimate and she would give me the difference back. So I paid $80, we pumped $62 and she gave me $18 back. I'm so glad we do not have mandatory pre-paying here! At least, yet.
  21. sasywtch

    sasywtch DIS Veteran

    May 16, 2008
    I hope you all don't mind me reading over here. It's so interesting to hear how others live and shop.
    California did away with pumping before paying years ago as people were taking off without paying. I think you can still pump first in the middle states until about Arizona where it's a pay first.

    Most people I know have figured in their head about how many gallons they need, round it off to the nearest dollar (3.84 a gallon, $4 a gallon x needs 10 gallons= $40). I know I always try to figure a little short so I don't have to go back in.

    On a trip to Detroit years ago, I had to go over the border to a grocery store to see milk in bags LOL Human nature I guess to see things that aren't "normal" to you. It always has amazed me how many times I have heard that there isn't that many flavors/brands, etc there. With the US, it's marketing and all marketing with more and more.

Share This Page