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US customs when shipping from Canada?
January 28, 2013 6:16 PM   Subscribe

If I'm ordering something online and they're based in Canada, will I have to pay customs when they ship to the US?

I want to order some wall decals, either from Etsy (for example) or from this website. These places seem to be shipping from Canada and I want them shipped to a PO Box in Texas. Will I have to pay taxes/customs?
posted by CrazyLemonade to Shopping (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Almost certainly not.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:43 PM on January 28, 2013


You get $800 duty-free per year (with different thresholds for certain categories of products like alcohol). You may also need to pay "brokerage" fees to the shipper based on the declared value of the shipment - Yeah, imagine that, you get to pay to have someone rifle through your stuff searching for heroin and Mexicans hiding in that 4"x6" box, woo-hoo!

Key phrase there, "declared value". About four years ago I learned a cool loophole when I ordered from a Canadian artist - For the declared value, have the seller put "promotional content, no cash value". As long as you don't buy something valuable enough you'd want to insure the shipment, it means you don't have to pay any BS fees just to get it from one side of an imaginary line to the other.
posted by pla at 7:45 PM on January 28, 2013


Seller from Canada here. Make sure they are shipping it to you via the postal system ie Canada Post and NOT a courier like fedex or ups. Check the etsy seller's policies section to be sure.

They are most likely shipping via regular mail and if so, you have up to $200 before you need to pay any duty on it. You will be fine.
posted by Pademelon at 8:11 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've ordered clothing, books, DVDs, kitchen items, all variety of things from Canada, through online sources. (And from the E.U., for that matter, and from a few Asian countries, and once from Argentina.) I've never had to pay customs or anything like that. I'll note that it's always been items for personal use, and I don't think I've ever had more than about $150 worth of stuff in an order.

The details of customs regulations can be strange and finicky, but at the prices and quantities you're looking at, the chance that there would be any extra problems or issues would be almost none. I'm assuming you're not looking to buy, say, 10,000 at a time.

(If Congress passed some sort of obscure wall decal tariff in 1973 that never got repealed, this advice is null and void.)
posted by gimonca at 8:53 PM on January 28, 2013


About four years ago I learned a cool loophole when I ordered from a Canadian artist - For the declared value, have the seller put "promotional content, no cash value". As long as you don't buy something valuable enough you'd want to insure the shipment, it means you don't have to pay any BS fees just to get it from one side of an imaginary line to the other.

Note that this is unlawful.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:20 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seconding one more dead town -- in the US, I think it may actually be a felony, (I had a shipper be deeply offended when I suggested he do this on a package from US to Canada) and it carries extremely heavy fines. Anyone who relies on package-shipping for their business will not do this.

That being said (and again, I'm in Canada buying from the US so YMMV), the only things I've paid customs charges on are things with a value of $200 + or things with tariffs, such as tobacco products.
posted by AmandaA at 6:35 AM on January 29, 2013


The US has an unusually high threshold of value of goods before they make you pay - $200. Other countries have much lower limits (I believe England's is something like $20) so that is probably where you are picking up on the whole paying duties and taxes thing.

And yes, as a person who makes her side living selling goods on etsy I would NEVER EVER mark something as anything but merchandise and I would never lie about the value of the contents. I have no interest in committing a felony to save you a few dollars.

Anecdotally, I buy things off etsy all the time as well from all over the world and have yet to pay an extra fee. I've also bought supplies from China and Vietnam in quantities that I thought were going to cause extra fees and didn't.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2013


Thanks everyone for your answers. I think I'll order the stuff and then come back and update the thread in case anyone has the same doubt later.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:10 AM on January 29, 2013


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