One of the most popular questions that we get asked from first time cross border shoppers are what fee’s do I pay at the border? We have briefly covered this topic in the custom/duties/taxes portion of this site but we wanted to dig a little deeper into why so many Canadians ship their items to the border.

The main reason is the obvious, its cheaper to ship certain items to the border and pick them up ourselves. People do this with their tires, motorcycles, furniture, clothing, shoes, you name it. Even when the dollar is not up to par Canadians still flock to the border. If you’ve never shipped an online order to the border before, here’s why so many Canadians do.

Brokerage fees are like a surprise math quiz when you haven’t studied at all. You get that sick feeling in your stomach when you are bombarded with a $50 brokerage fee for an item worth $80. UPS and FedEx are known to leave hefty brokerage fee’s that you need to pay before they hand over your item IF you ship to Canada. These brokerage fees are of course eliminated if you ship to the border and bring the item across yourself.

Secondly, many companies charge hefty international shipping fees. Only very large companies can offer good rates into Canada, so you have to take the extra $15-$30 into account when calculating the savings.

Third, duty can be another miserable surprise. Duty seems to be hit and miss but should be allocated to items that are not made within North America or Mexico. When bringing items across yourself it is very rare to be ever charged duty. Border officials do not inspect most items and go great lengths to find out where the package was made.

Lastly, items in the U.S. are sometimes flat out cheaper than in Canada. Especially high margin items such as motorcycles or beds to just name a few. Canadians still ponder why there is such a price difference on some items south of the border. No companies are stepping forward and giving anyone a clear cut answer so Canadians are continuing to shop online on their favourite U.S. sites.

Shipping to the border is of course not for most household items and almost all border shoppers support their local businesses. However, when it comes to a deal you can’t pass up, shipping to the border is simply a part of the Canadian culture.