• Last Updated:
  • Mar 24th, 2017 2:30 pm
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
May 9, 2009
5005 posts
860 upvotes
Montreal
death_hawk wrote:
Mar 18th, 2017 12:14 am
Do they actually care that much about everything but liquor and tobacco though?
Assuming nothing is prohibited (strawberries?) I don't think I've ever been billed for any grocery items that are of a reasonable retail (but over limit) quantity.

Then again... I saw someone in the office tossing their citrus because they were busted for it so maybe they do care about groceries.
Like with everything else when crossing the border, YMMV. If you get unlucky and end up with someone who's a stickler for the rules, you might have to throw some stuff away.

I avoid buying any fresh fruits or vegetables for this reason. I might have gone over the dairy or poultry limit in the past, though, but I've never been called out on it.

I once crossed at a quiet crossing around midnight and was the only car for miles around. I had a car full of stuff for a Halloween party (candy, chips, soda, etc). The CBSA officer looked at my receipt and gave me a brief lecture about those types of items being taxable and not counting as groceries, but she still waved me through.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
18060 posts
4628 upvotes
psyko514 wrote:
Mar 20th, 2017 11:28 am
Like with everything else when crossing the border, YMMV. If you get unlucky and end up with someone who's a stickler for the rules, you might have to throw some stuff away.
I'm no stranger to that.
I've been sent in to pay $2 worth of GST once.
Same day (hour really) return with $100 total goods, $40 being taxable.

While technically correct, I can't imagine they actually made any money on the transaction.
Even the guy inside was like WTF? You were sent in for 2 ducking dollars?
Sr. Member
Feb 22, 2016
608 posts
293 upvotes
Easy. Stock up on cartel groceries. There was a news story a couple years ago about Vancouverites loading their SUV's with multiple jugs of milk because they're less than $2 a gallon at Costco in Bellingham and $5+ for the same amount in BC.
(Cartel apologists -- spare me the "Canadian milk is organic" yada yada yada ... My money my choice. You can pay $5, I'll pay $2. So there.)

Imported cheese is often a steal. Recent trip to Buffalo I saw small blocks of Kerrygold cheese from Ireland for $3.49 US. Same size blocks in GTA supermarkets, $8.00 Can. This is because of the tariff wall - foreign butter and cheese is nailed with a 300% import duty. If you like your Kerrygold or Plugra butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, real French brie (the Quebec crap tastes and smells like rubber), Stilton, etc, buy it in America.

If you want your groceries really cheap, find ALDI. Just go. If you've never been, imagine a No Frills that only stocks PC products but charges less than No Name products. Owned by the same family as Trader Joe's so you'll often find the same products at both stores (but a lot cheaper at the ALDI side).

Day trips, your best bet is groceries since generally these can be imported duty/tax free. Don't even think of alcohol unless you're gone 48 hours. Unless you think 100% duty is fair (the LCBO or equivalent wants its cut whether they imported it or you did...).
Last edited by EastGTARedFlagger on Mar 21st, 2017 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
18060 posts
4628 upvotes
EastGTARedFlagger wrote:
Mar 21st, 2017 11:40 pm
Unless you think 100% duty is fair (the LCBO or equivalent wants its cut whether they imported it or you did...).
Depending on what you drink, it can be more than 100% duty.
Unless it's something that unobtainable here, it's usually not a good idea to exceed duty free limits for alcohol.
It really depends on what you're bringing over though. Sometimes even after paying for duty it's still cheaper than locally.
Jr. Member
User avatar
Dec 6, 2012
126 posts
31 upvotes
Montréal, QC
EastGTARedFlagger wrote:
Mar 21st, 2017 11:40 pm
loading their SUV's with multiple jugs of milk
Don't do that, you have a limit of $20 for dairy product, after this you pay hundreds of % in taxes.
death_hawk wrote:
Mar 22nd, 2017 1:30 am
Depending on what you drink, it can be more than 100% duty.
I think it is 120% here in QC, I never bring more than I should...
Sr. Member
Feb 22, 2016
608 posts
293 upvotes
Magister wrote:
Mar 22nd, 2017 7:33 am
Don't do that, you have a limit of $20 for dairy product, after this you pay hundreds of % in taxes.


I think it is 120% here in QC, I never bring more than I should...
Sometimes even after paying for duty it's still cheaper than locally.
This story explains how many jugs you could bring back:
http://www.vancouversun.com/Canadians+c ... story.html

6 per person! So if it's just 2 of you in the car, that's 12. I usually spread around that dairy limit between milk jugs and imported cheese.
I know another limit is 1 turkey per person...

As for alcohol, exactly why I never bring that back unless I've been gone 48 hours and can take advantage of the duty free limits. (I don't smoke so I won't discuss tobacco; any smokers, feel free...)

As for "Sometimes even after paying for duty it's still cheaper than locally." that definitely applies if you're buying the really dirt cheap stuff. Maybe an extreme example (not that I've ever bought it) is the infamous "Two Buck Chuck" wine at Trader Joe's. Charles Shaw blended plonk for $1.99 a bottle. Even if CBSA nails me with a 200% tax (so $2 for the wine plus $4 tax = $6, I'm ignoring currency conversion for simplicity) that's still a lot cheaper than the $15 the LCBO would charge for that wine. You could probably make the same case for buying excess rum when on vacation in the Caribbean... as long as you've been away 48h, if you go over the duty free limit, the excess is only taxed at 20% right? (up to 9 L)
Sr. Member
Oct 13, 2014
820 posts
305 upvotes
Somewhere, ON
EastGTARedFlagger wrote:
Mar 22nd, 2017 12:36 pm
This story explains how many jugs you could bring back:
http://www.vancouversun.com/Canadians+c ... story.html
As informative as that story is it is best to post the links from the source itself:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/inform ... 9648516990 - Note the restriction on poultry, as small as it may be.
“When you marry the right woman, you are ‘complete.’ If you marry the wrong woman, you are ‘finished.’ And, if the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are ‘completely finished.'"
Sr. Member
Feb 22, 2016
608 posts
293 upvotes
rcmpvet wrote:
Mar 22nd, 2017 4:41 pm
As informative as that story is it is best to post the links from the source itself:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/inform ... 9648516990 - Note the restriction on poultry, as small as it may be.
Thanks. The easiest guideline to remember is the dairy one, just remember 20 - $20 or 20 kg whichever comes first. 20 kg of milk would be under 20 litres, or about 5 gallons. But I always get a combination of milk jugs, heavy cream, butter, and imported cheese so I go by the $20 number. And remember that's per person not per vehicle.

Sometimes before Canadian Thanksgiving we've seen huge turkeys on sale at Wegmans in Buffalo for as low as 19 cents a pound. 1 turkey per person, two people in the car, you just covered Thanksgiving and Christmas :-)

The official site mentions potatoes; some border guards get uneasy about root vegetables, so I no longer try to import big bags of Idaho potatoes or Vidalia onions from Sam's Club. They're concerned about the dirt that's often still stuck to those items and also all over the bottom of the bag.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
18060 posts
4628 upvotes
Plus some stuff is so cheap there that even if they do have a problem with it, you can just dispose of the excess and still come out ahead.
It's a terrible thing to do to food though.
Sr. Member
Feb 22, 2016
608 posts
293 upvotes
death_hawk wrote:
Mar 22nd, 2017 5:14 pm
Plus some stuff is so cheap there that even if they do have a problem with it, you can just dispose of the excess and still come out ahead.
It's a terrible thing to do to food though.
Despite the rock-bottom prices and the often funny knock-off labels, I have never had to toss ALDI grocery products*. I find their quality to be at par with two other store brands, President's Choice or Kirkland, but for half the price. Given that ALDI is Trader Joe's lower-cost brother, this shouldn't surprise anybody.

The same cannot be said for Walmart's so-called "Great Value" and Loblaws' "no name", With those two, you really do get what you pay for.

* I specify grocery because ALDI also sells store brand hardware, electronics, toys, sporting goods, etc... and those are often crap. Chinese-made garbage not even good enough for Crappy Tire, yeah that bad...
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
18060 posts
4628 upvotes
No, I mean toss them if you're over limit.
Sr. Member
Feb 22, 2016
608 posts
293 upvotes
The border crossings should have food bank donation bins for us to put excess food (if necessary to avoid duties) rather than have to go in the trash. I often buy extra non-perishable food items at ALDI to donate closer to home. Just to make a point I put the much cheaper ALDI goods (and better quality than "no name") in the food bank donation bins located inside Loblaws!
× < >
Rotate image Save Cancel

Top