« Downsizing: Choosing a used car to save gas and money | Main | Would women drink more beer if the bottle looked different? »

May 24, 2021

Time to increase duty-free limits for cross-border shoppers ?

Looking to take free trade right to your door step, the United States has asked Canada to raise its duty-free limits for day trips across the border, perhaps to as much as $1,000.  

Flag Americans can buy and bring back $200 worth of Canadian goods in the first two days before they have to settle up with U.S. customs. Over two days, the exemption is $800.

Conversely, after one day, our “exemption” at the border is a mere $50; between two and seven days, you can bring back $400 worth of goods and, after one week, it’s a $750 exemption on most goods.

Earlier this year, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson proposed that the government increase these exemptions tenfold: raising the one-day allowance from $50 to $500 per person; the three-day allowance from $250 to $2,500; that longer-stay allowance from $750 to $7,500.

But his proposal hasn’t been getting much traction as retailers and governments worry about potential lost revenue.

But this could change, suggests Bill Anderson, a professor of cross-border policy studies at the University of Windsor. He feels the issue of personal exemptions could a key issue in the border security talks currently heating up between the U.S. and Canada.

The point of border guards in 2011 should be to focus on threats to both countries and not collecting fees, maintains Globe columnist Neil Reynolds.

Higher allowances would eliminate the us-versus-them hassles of cross-border shopping and permit customs agents to spend less time on “looking for bottles of duty-free whisky and spend more time trying to identify people who might be a genuine threat,” he maintains.

What do you think: Should exemptions be bumped up? Or will this simply drive businesses in border towns into the ground?  

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...