Some Cross-Border Facts

Most of the traditional press are stating that US travel to Canada is up significantly “because of the low loonie” yes that is a fact but here are some other facts that you may have not known…

A US Citizen returning from Canada anytime in a period of less than 48 hours are entitled to a $200 duty-free exemption and the next $1,000 worth of the goods they purchased is subject to a flat rate of 3%. Any purchases of goods “Made in The USA” are not taxed regardless as to value. Goods Made In Canada or Mexico are also not taxed. After 48 Hours the allowance increases to $800. Purchases may include 1 liter of alcohol (must be 21 years of age or older). 200 cigarettes (1 carton), and 100 cigars, tax and duty free.

If they exceed duty free allowances and exemptions entering the U.S., the following approximate U.S. duty and tax rates MAY apply:

  • U.S. $2.00 – $3.00 per bottle of liquor
  • U.S. $1.30 per case of beer
  • U.S. $3.90 per carton of cigarettes

A Canadian Citizen returning from the U.S. and were not there for a total of 24 hours or more are entitled to $0.00 – ($200. less than our U.S. cousins) Over 24 hours $200 and over 48 hours they are entitled to a $800 duty-free exemption. Purchases (over 48 hrs) may include 1.14 liters (40 ounces) of liquor or 1 case of beer (24x355ml cans/bottles) or 1.5 liters of wine plus 200 cigarettes (1 carton), 50 cigars or cigarillos, 200 tobacco sticks, and 200 grams of manufactured tobacco. The value is included in the $800. limit.

IF WE EXCEED our duty free allowances and exemptions entering CANADA, the following approximate CANADIAN duty and tax rates MAY apply:

  • CA Funds approximately $1.00 per OUNCE ($31.00 per bottle more than U.S. cousin)
  • CA Funds approximately $9.00 per case of beer ($7.70 per case more than U.S. cousin)
  • CA Funds approximately $25.00 per carton of cigarettes ($21.10 per carton more than U.S. cousin)

Now some of these numbers may surprise you and make you wonder why more americans don’t cross the border to shop? Well first off even with the loonie where it is:

Gas is still $0.30 more a ltr in Canada, A 24 case of beer is $18.00 more in Canada, a hotel room in three star hotel will cost them a minimum of $40.00 more, it’s twice as expensive to dine out. etc. etc.

Nothing To Declare

Nothing To Declare

Does the lower loonie attract more U.S. tourists? Probably. Are they spending anything when they are here? Love to see those numbers!



About 2sidesof49

This Blog is for all Canadian Cross-Border Shoppers wanting to maximize their returns on their U.S. shopping trips. Visit for tips and tricks and links to our partners websites, blogs and products. Also check out my book The Canadian Cross-Border Shopping Guide - guaranteed to save you money!
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1 Response to Some Cross-Border Facts

  1. flynnroad says:

    I just learned a new Cross Border fact this week. We should make a blog post. It’s about EI or Unemployment Insurance as it is called south of the border.

    I think in all states, when you lose your job, in a manner that qualifies you for EI, you file for EI, there is about a week waiting period(only 1!) and you start to collect money.

    In Ontario. Maybe all of Canada, the Government finds out how much severance you got via an Record of Employment they get from the company that booted you. You can’t start collecting EI until your severance is over and I think a TWO week waiting period after that.

    I can understand, as a tax payer, it saves us all money to not allow the person who just lost their job to double dip and get paid 1) Severance 2) EI at the same time.

    However, as a matter of principle, I believe my EI is paid for more like an insurance plan and my ex-employer and I contributed to this insurance to help me out should I lose a job. Right? When I look at the line item on my payslip, it is right there as a separate deduction and called “Employment Insurance”. So, this should not impact taxes since it is counted as insurance payout.

    Now, for some people, their severance payout is part of an employment contract between them and their employer. Yes, a contract between ME and my EMPLOYER. Not Me, My Employer and the agency that administers EI.

    What I find really strange is that is seemed almost impossible for me to explain this to my Canadian friends and get them to see my point of view. Their response is always, “But, why should get you get EI if you are getting severance?” does not compute… does not compute..

    I don’t know if it is because I am an American or what.. but it just seems obvious to me that the insurance payout should be immediately when you lose your job because it is employment insurance. Not after my severance and an extra 2 week waiting period. Only because my severance payout is between me and my ex-employer and not the business of anyone else other than CRA.

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