Paying duties at the airport
December 18, 2011 3:38 PM   Subscribe

How do I pay customs tax and duties when flying into Canada?

I'm flying back to Canada for the holidays, and bringing some Xmas gifts that will be over the $60 duty free gift limit. I presume that when I fill out the declaration, I'll be asked to pay duty.

Does anyone know how that works? Do I hand over cash (fortunately I do have some Canadian currency on me), swipe a credit card? Checked bags aren't even picked up until after you clear customs, so how does the customs officer verify my declaration?

It's kind of a silly question but I've never carried goods over the duty free limit before and like all border crossings I want things to go smoothly.
posted by ceribus peribus to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Best answer: Fill in the form accurately. They might take credit, but cash for sure. You clear immigration first, but you clear customs last of all, with all your bags.

My experience is that if you itemize everything honestly and the amount isn't too huge, they wave you through. But that's just me.
posted by scruss at 4:22 PM on December 18, 2011

Unless it's booze or cigarettes, won't your gifts be considered personal items - you won't have to pay any duty?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:00 PM on December 18, 2011

Best answer: When you visit you will pass through Immigration first, they will mark up your form with codes for the Customs agent, then you claim your bags, and then you hand your form to the Customs agent.

If you are non-resident, and have over $60CAD in gifts (excluding alcohol and cigarettes), they will either waive it, in which case you carry on out the door, or they will refer you to the cashier where you can pay with cash or credit card.

Keep the receipts for your gifts in your wallet in case anyone wants to see them.
posted by lunaazul at 5:28 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

They don't inspect your bags to verify your declaration- at least that's never happened with us.

The thing is that you're actually LIVING in the US (assuming your profile here is accurate) and so I'd be surprised if you'd have to pay a duty on gifts- you didn't go to the outlet malls in Buffalo for the afternoon. I've brought Xmas gifts home (to the US) all the time and never had to pay duty on them. I very much doubt you'll have to, but just be honest and all will go fine.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:46 PM on December 18, 2011

Oh, and of COURSE they take credit cards. If the take them for wine we bought in Washington State at Coutts in the middle of nowhere at the Alberta-Montana crossing, you'll have the same convenience at the biggest airport in the country.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:49 PM on December 18, 2011

Best answer: Gifts over $60 are unlikely to be a problem.

The main tariff items are cigarettes and booze

Canada customs will happily take your US $ credit card, or cash in either denomination and likely your debit card too.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:01 PM on December 18, 2011

They don't care about your Christmas presents unless they are alcohol and tobacco over the limit, contraband, or giant amounts of cash or gold or whatever.

Just do not fill in that part of the form, say no, put a dash, etc.
posted by w0mbat at 1:06 AM on December 19, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone - ethnomethodologist, yes I think there's some extra leeway they give when you've been in country for over 4 months; the highest exception I saw on the form was only $400 for two weeks, though.

In the end, I declared a little higher than that, and when the agent asked what I was bringing in I said "Christmas presents", and he marked the form with the seekrit waiver squiggle.

Truthfully, if I had known the TSA were going to manhandle and lightly damage one of the gifts I wouldn't have been as concerned about paying my fair share of duty taxes. (The bubble wrap around a glass bowl was untaped, removed and stuffed into a corner of my suitcase letting the bowl fly around and break itself into a few pieces. At least they put it back into it's cardboard box first so that the glass was contained and I wasn't picking shards out of my clothes.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:07 PM on January 10, 2012

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