As many Canadian cross border shoppers know, the longer you spend in the US, the higher your personal tax exemption is when you come back. However, it can get confusing when you get into the details of these rules. For instance:
How much are these exemptions and how long do you have to be gone to claim them?
Do they cover tobacco and alcohol purchases?
What do I need to declare?
Can you pool the exemptions of a few people onto one big purchase?
In this post, we hope to help answer these questions. If you have any others, give us a shout in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them!
1) Personal Exemptions – Timeframes
(all prices listed below are in Canadian dollars (CAD)
Out of the country for 24 hours: You can claim up to $50 without paying any duties. IMPORTANT – you cannot include tobacco or alcohol products in this exemption.
Out of the country for 48 hours or more: You can claim up to $400 without paying any duties.
Out of the country for 7 days or more: You can claim up to $750 without paying any duties.
2) Alcohol and Tobacco
As mentioned above, you can only claim alcohol and tobacco products in your personal exemptions if you have been out of the country for more than 48 hours. You must also be of legal age to purchase the products. Your limits for personal exemption for alcohol and tobacco products are:
Alcohol: 1.14L (40 oz.) of liquor, or 1.5L of wine; or 24X355ml (12 oz.) containers of beer.
Tobacco: 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars or cigarillos; 200 tobacco sticks; and 200g (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco.
3) What do I need to declare?
While some items don’t need to be declared, we recommend that you declare all purchases when crossing the border. The customs officers will be able to determine what items can be excluded from your claims and by declaring everything, you avoid sticky situations where you haven’t declared something you should have.
4) Can I combine my 24hr ($50), 48hr ($400), and 7-day ($750) personal exemptions together if I am out of the country for more than a week?
No, if you are gone for more than a week you can only claim $750.
5) Can you pool the personal exemptions of a few people onto one item?
No, you cannot pool exemptions together. The only time when you can claim someone else’s exemptions is if it is your children and the item will be used by them (i.e. if you were buying them a set of skis).
We’ll be adding more info to this section in the coming days and weeks, so check back often for new information! Also, feel free to fire off some questions in the comments below and we’ll answer them the best we can.