Snowbirds! Crossing the Canada/USA Border Correctly

April 1st, 2022 by admin Leave a reply »

Crossing the border when returning to Canada can be stressful – find out why!

While crossing the border between Canada and the USA we declared the purchases we made during our day trip to Omak, Washington. No problem, we declare everything and are willing to pay any duty or taxes that are applicable. What interested me was that when we told the border guard we had purchased clothing he said to take our receipts and anything made in Canada, United States or Mexico in with us to show the staff inside. We went through every label on each piece and found to our humour that everything was made either in China, India or Haiti and so would have to pay duty and taxes on each item we purchased.

This made me think about the hundreds of snowbirds who are currently in Arizona and California who will be returning to Canada in the coming months. What can they bring back without having to pay excess taxes? What products can they safely bring into Canada?

We also received a phone call from friends currently visiting in Arizona who had a major mechanical problem with their motorhome and are now staying in a hotel while their unit is being repaired. They were upset about the incident but glad they hadn’t caused any accidents or further damage to their toad vehicle which could have been possible due to the type of breakdown. Do they have to pay taxes or duty on the parts or work done on their motorhome?

What can you bring back into Canada?

Anyone traveling for months at a time would inevitably make purchases of goods that will be brought into Canada. How do they keep track of these and are they aware of what they can bring back or how much?

These are just some of the questions I was asking myself and know that the best place to find this information is the Canada Border Services Agency Website and after a bit of digging all of my questions were answered.

After reviewing the information available, the one piece of advice I can honestly give is for anyone leaving the country to know what may apply to them when they return.

A few of the major points that may apply to my RVing friends include:

Modifying an item outside Canada ~ this may apply to your RV, jewellery or car and you should know whether it enhances the value or not causing you to pay taxes or duty on not only the cost but the new value of the item.

Emergency repairs ~ if you need to do emergency repairs to your RV so you can safely travel home you still need to declare them. There may or may not be duty owed but they still must be reported.

Personal exemptions ~ you may qualify for a personal exemption on bringing in goods up to a certain value. Know this information before you leave and possibly take that under consideration when making purchases. However, the CBSA does state that ‘Except for restricted items, you can bring back any amount of goods as long as you are willing to pay the duty and taxes…’

Restricted items ~ there are specific rules and laws regarding firearms and weapons, explosives, fireworks and ammunition and certain food, plants, animals and related products. Know what the prohibited goods are before you attempt to come back into the country and save yourself a lot of problems that you really don’t need.

Prohibited goods ~ there are items that cannot be brought into Canada.

Health Products ~ this applies to prescription drugs as well as over the counter medication. There may be different regulations in Canada regarding these and you should be aware of them before attempting to import them to Canada.

Tobacco and Alcohol products ~ there are limits as to how much you can bring into Canada within your personal exemption and anything over that amount will probably cost you duty and taxes.


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