Border Towns — Online shopping can present several challenges

Many Canadians who shop online need to cross the border to pick up their parcels.

Canadian shoppers are crossing the border in increasing numbers to take advantage of U.S. mail outlets offering parcel pick-up service.

Many U.S.-based online shopping websites don’t ship to Canada, and those that do often charge a hefty premium to send parcels north of the 49th parallel, says Samantha Wallace with TSB Shipping Plus in Point Roberts, Washington.

Located just a few blocks south of the Point Roberts border crossing, TSB Shipping Plus has close to 50,000 Canadians in their customer database.

With the increase in popularity of online shopping, so too has cross-border business increased at the U.S. mail outlet.

“About 85 per cent of our business are Canadians coming down to pick up parcels they’ve ordered, usually from online,” Wallace says.

Canadians still have to pay tax and duty on purchases made online and picked up in the U.S., she adds, but while there are no personal exemptions for stays of less than 24 hours, often the amount of duty and taxes charged is so small it’s not worth the paper work for border officials.

“You have to declare what you bring back, but they usually don’t charge you tax if it’s something small,” says Wallace.

However, those who don’t declare their mailed goods could face hefty fines, and even criminal prosecution.

“If you do not declare goods, or if you falsely declare them, border services officers may seize the goods,” says Canadian Border Services Agency spokesperson Maria Ivancic. “Smuggling, undervaluation and other Customs Act offenses may lead to seizure and/or prosecution in a court of law.”

If goods are seized, you may lose the goods permanently or the CBSA may impose a penalty that ranges from 25 to 80 per cent of the value of the seized goods. The Customs Act also gives border services officers the authority to seize all vehicles that were used to import goods unlawfully.

For Canadians returning from stays in the U.S. of 24 hours or more, $200 worth of goods are allowed to be imported duty and tax free. However, if the amount being imported exceeds $200, the duty and taxes are applicable on the entire amount of the imported goods.

Canadians returning from stays in the U.S. of 48 hours or more have a personal exemption of $800 worth of imported goods, with duty and taxes charged on the amount of goods above $800.

• The CBSA website has a duty and taxes estimator which allows you to determine the amount of duty and taxes you may have to pay on your imported goods before you even leave home:

— Robert Mangelsdorf, South Delta Leader

Just Posted

VIDEO: Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials hold annual open house

Pam and Tom Erikson hold 17th annual charitable fundraiser at their private Langley garden

VIDEO: Open-to-all sprinter event for dogs comes to Langley

The second event of its kind in Canada since new rules were implemented

VIDEO: Riding against MS in Langley

MS Bike — Fraser Valley Experience collects more than $140,000

VIDEO: Langley City legendary water fight was a soaking good time

And perfectly timed for a hot weather warning

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

SilverStar officially opens Gondola

The brand-new gondola is now offering scenic rides for visitors on SilverStar Mountain Resort.

VIDEO: Man climbs crane in Abbotsford

Police, fire called to deal with climber last night

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read