WINNIPEG — Canadian bargain-hunters began getting a break at the border under new exemption limits introduced Friday.
Canada’s new limits now match duty-free exemptions Americans enjoy on their return to the United States, raising duty-free purchases to $200 after 24 hours and $800 after 48 hours, said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Manitoba’s senior cabinet minister in the federal government.
“Our government understands how important an efficient border is to Canadians and our economy,” Toews said, who chose to make the announcement posed outside the duty-free store at the Richardson International Airport.
Toews said the new limits will make it faster for Canadians to get through customs after trips abroad.
There is no change on alcohol or tobacco exemption limits. Canadians are allowed to return after 48 hours out of the country with 48 ounces of hard liquor, 1.5 litres of wine or 24 beers. Tobacco purchases can include one carton of cigarettes, 200 grams of tobacco and 50 cigars or cigarellos.
Canadians make an estimated 30 million overnight trips outside of Canada every year and customs officers were tied up doing a lot of paperwork for relatively little duty.
“It simply isn’t worth processing these smaller amounts and charging very small amounts of money. It ties up the border when people could be processed much more quickly,” Toews said.
There are no duty-free exemptions for same-day trips so any purchase made within 24 hours is subject to taxes at the border.
That provision is a nod to Canadian merchants concerned that cross-border shopping would hurt their business.
“There won’t be that much impact on local economies given the fact there is still the 24 hour period when there is no duty free allowed,” Toews said.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Friday the government estimates the changes will save Canadians about $13 million this year, which will increase to $17 million on an annual basis in 2013.
» Winnipeg Free Press, with files from The Canadian Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 2, 2012