A week ago, I participated in a trade show. While there were some great meaningful business conversations, there were also those with questions about personal importations. Several were inquiries about auto imports, which we always expect due to the current strength of the Canadian dollar, but many were inquiring on cross border shopping and the value of goods that can be entered into Canada without having to pay duties or taxes.
With the summer holidays quickly approaching, it is probably worth reviewing your personal exemptions:
- Just crossed the border to fill up your gas tank? (i.e. less than 24 hours) - $20.00 of merchandise
- More than 24 hours but less than 48 hours? $50.00
- More than 48 hours but less than seven days? $400.00
- More than seven days? $750.00
Of course, you hear stories every day of travelers who are in excess of their personal exemption but are still allowed to enter Canada without paying duties and taxes. Ultimately, the decision lies with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer. It is your obligation to declare all goods acquired for importation into Canada, whether purchased or received as gifts, and truthfully answer any questions asked by the CBSA officer. It is at the CBSA officer's discretion whether or not you pay any duties and taxes.
If you use the NEXUS lane, it is strongly suggested that you review the NEXUS rules for import declarations. Several people have mentioned that the rules have changed somewhat, but I would exercise caution. Personally, I treat my NEXUS card like gold and would not want to risk placing it in jeopardy. I greatly value the opportunity to use the expedited lanes to enter the U.S. and return to Canada with greater ease than the regular traffic.
If you want to see the complete version covering personal exemptions, please go to the following link: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d2/d2-3-1-eng.pdf.