Canadian Duty Free Allowances Set to Increase

Canadian cross border shoppers received some good news in last week's federal budget.

Starting on June 1, 2012, duty free limits for cross border shoppers will increase as follows:

  • for trips of more than 24 hours and less that 48 hours, the duty free allowance will increase from the current limit of $50 to $200.
  • for trips of more than 48 hours but less than 7 days, the duty free allowance will increase from the current limit of $400 to $800.
  • for trips of more than 7 days, the duty free limit will increase by $50, from the current limit of $750 to $800.
  • duty free limits for tobacco and alcohol will remain unchanged.
While cross border shoppers will certainly welcome these duty free limit increases, there was one notable omission in the budget that is sure to disappoint Canadians living near the U.S. border: a same-day duty free allowance for short-term shopping trips of less than 24 hours.
 
With Canadians making more than 25 million same day car trips to the U.S. in 2011, such an exemption would have made the most sense for the majority of Canadians, while also significantly reducing the burden on Canadian border service agents who currently waste a significant amount of time stopping, questioning, searching and collecting duties from same-day shoppers. Americans currently are entitled to a same-day $200 duty free allowance, while Canadians are not allowed to bring anything back to Canada duty free for trips of less than 24 hours.
 
Let's hope next year's budget takes this into account and finally introduces a long overdue same day duty free allowance for Canadians.

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