« Unrelated? Divorces down, Shaken Baby Syndrome cases up, during recession | Main | How to identify and build your investor identity »

May 03, 2021

Is cross border shopping getting easier?

The wave of virtual shoppers doing regular business with sites south of the Canadian border continues to rise. Buying from U.S.-based merchants is easier than it once was and, given the current strength of the loonie, more affordable than ever.

Cross Yet unspoken costs, from tariffs to shipping fees, can change that equation in a hurry. On top of this, credit card companies charge heavily for currency conversion.

Canadians commonly encounter two potential roadblocks that prevent them from ordering online or by phone from U.S. retailers, warns the Crossbodershopping site:

Some U.S. companies aren’t interested in shipping to Canada and those that do often have prohibitively expensive shipping fees. Many shipping tables don't include Canadian addresses, so you won't know the total cost of each order until checkout.

Plus, items that are shipped to Canada from the U.S. can be held up at customs for days or weeks.

Fortunately, getting your goods to Canada from the U.S. is getting easier and less expensive all the time. A number of U.S. companies have established pick-up offices conveniently located near border crossings all along the Canada – U.S. border.

Some Canadians near U.S. border cities are also setting up post office boxes on the American side and having their items shipped there.

For a small fee (usually between $10 and $50, depending on the size of the package), these pick-up offices allow you to have items you order from U.S. retailers shipped directly to them.

When you place an order with a U.S. retailer, simply provide the retailer with the delivery address of the U.S. pick-up office closest to you. When your item arrives, the pick-up office will notify you, and you can drive across the border to collect your items.

Keep in mind that you may still have to pay tax and duty on these items when you drive back across the border.But at least you'll avoid the brokerage fees from international carriers.

Have you made a cross-border pickup recently? Any problems or suggestions to report?

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...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

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...