Sometimes when shopping/ordering from the US you think you’re getting an incredible deal, only to arrive at customs and get hit with massive duty charges that make you wish you hadn’t bought the item in the first place.

Not to worry, more often than not, products you buy in the United States are exempt from duty, meaning you only have to pay sales tax on the way back. Remember, sales tax is only a minimal add-on compared to duties, so if you can avoid duties, you can save big.

Here’s a short list of some of the duty-free categories:

  • Almost anything made in the United States or Mexico
  • Toys, including puzzles, trains, dolls, action figures
  • Video games
  • Cellphones
  • Antiques
  • Most kinds of original art
  • Downhill skis and boots
  • Toasters
  • Breadmakers
  • Electric irons
  • Artificial Christmas trees
  • Billiard tables
  • Chess sets
  • Office furniture
  • SLR and instant cameras
  • Unset diamonds, pearls and precious stones
  • Golf bags made mostly of synthetics.
  • Books
  • Glassware (including crystal)

Again, this is only a short list, so be sure to check with customs to get it all. Also, we’ll be working hard to sift through and find more categories to post on here. Because of the nature of duties, be sure to double check with Canada Border Services on any items you plan on bringing back into Canada.

Enjoy your cross border shopping!