US -> CAN money transfer; CAN -> US shipping
December 7, 2017 3:40 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to send $2000 from the U.S. to Canada? And, how about mailing ~80lbs of clothes from Canada to the U.S.?

Is it possible to do personal bank to bank transfers internationally? I mean, I know that it is possible, but is it the best way to send a few grand from the Bay Area (I use Ally Bank) to Montreal (Bank of Montreal)? I’m repaying a close friend so I can get the routing number or whatever personal information if needed that might not be available with a random online store and trust is not an issue. I just don’t want to pay 5 or 10% to facilitate the transaction, if possible.

Bonus question! She’s using part of the money to send me two ~40lb duffle bags of mine. Time is not a factor and I want to make it easy for her, so even if Canada Post isn’t the cheapest option, does anyone have a sense of the rough price I’d be looking at? $200 per bag, more? The bags have a bunch of random personal things so I think it’s going to be a drag doing the customs forms no matter how they are sent, but is there some better way to do this that wouldn’t involve more than walking to the post office on her block, writing a list of all the crap in each, and paying for postage? How about import fees? Nothing is new or going to be sold, it’s just personal stuff that I brought from the US to Canada and is now coming back home. (One time I mailed myself a used suit from Canada to the US and somehow wound up paying $30 in tarrifs because I’d ticked the wrong box, so any advice for avoiding that situation would be helpful). Is it cheaper to mail a box than a canvas duffle bag of the same weight?

Thanks in advance for your insight!
posted by andromache to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total)
BMO charges CAD 5 to deposit a foreign cheque to a CAD-denominated account. Writing a check is probably the best option to do this once. Unlike almost every other country I know, Canadian banks are pretty good at accepting checks in U.S. currency. I'm sure the rate will suck but it won't be 5–10% suckage. Wire transfer will be way more expensive.

For the goods, use the cheapest means of shipment possible. Customs duties are charged on customs value which includes the shipping cost. Your shipping list should include the Harmonized Tariff Schedule code and value for each of the items.
posted by grouse at 6:14 PM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

TransferWise is a pretty good way to send money between countries, and doesn't have that many-day lag you sometimes get depositing U.S. checks into CDN accounts. Recommended!

Your friend should mark the packages, whether they're duffel bags or boxes, as a gift. However, the postal service has started to crack down on this more and more.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 7:53 PM on December 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

A wire transfer (which you can do in person at a branch, or online if your bank allows it) usually has a high-ish flat fee (25-40$), but at least it’s not a percentage. Seconding the idea of using TransferWise. Another option is to send a money order — those act as certified checks and should “clear” faster on the receiving side, although that’s not guaranteed.
posted by vert canard at 8:18 PM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

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