Crossing border from Vermont

Discussion in 'Canada' started by pirate99gs, Nov 30, 2016.

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  1. pirate99gs

    pirate99gs (0) Nov 9, 2014 Canada (QC)

    I'm heading to Vermont this Friday for the day, and was wondering about people's experiences at the Canadian border for the return trip. Normally I cross at one of the closer (smaller) borders and pay the taxes, and was hypothesizing if crossing at a larger border if the customs agents would be less inclined to charge the taxes. (hey, one can dream).

  2. Jerk_Store

    Jerk_Store (0) Feb 13, 2015 Canada (QC)

    I always declare what I'm bringing back and pay whatever it is. Sometimes they let me go through without paying, sometimes not. Still worth it regardless :wink:
  3. VincentGD01

    VincentGD01 (0) Jan 24, 2016 Canada (QC)

    I've been there a dozen of times and they never let me go through without paying taxes. I've heard it happens sometimes but prepare your checks and your money! Pretty sure that's what gonna happen sadly :wink:
  4. Jimski123

    Jimski123 (0) Feb 10, 2013 Tennessee

    How much are the taxes?
  5. VincentGD01

    VincentGD01 (0) Jan 24, 2016 Canada (QC)

    Usually around 25℅ of the total amount you paid
  6. mtomlins

    mtomlins (0) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    I think whether you get stopped has less to do with the size of the border crossing and more to do with the general mood of the agent you are dealing with at the time. It's a pure craps shoot. I drove right through by myself once with 4 cases, no problem. The next time, with one case between 2 adults, I got searched (albeit a quick one right there at the gate).

    I think the bigger predictor is the province you are entering; I always try to come back through ON, but I am guessing that's not an option for you.
    Jerk_Store and byronic like this.
  7. Seany

    Seany (0) Sep 27, 2005 Canada (QC)

    I have used all 4 crossings between lake Champlain and Champlain/St Bernard de Lacolle many times and have noticed no trends as others have said. I declare and have to pay about 80% of the time. Usually about 35% taxes.
  8. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers (0) Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    I went twice in January this year, so traffic wasn't busy at all.

    Crossing the first time for just a day trip at the big crossing coming back, I got a huge warning about being over about 200ml, not kidding. They said they could take my Nexus away even! Do NOT go over the max excess allowed, which is 9L. You don't get the 8.5L duty free added on unless over 48hrs.

    I had to laugh at the stern talking and then $3 tax I had to pay...

    Coming back the 2nd time we'd been down 3 days, crossed at one of the smaller crossing, no probs even though we both had over the duty free limit + up to the allowed excess of 9L.
  9. Seany

    Seany (0) Sep 27, 2005 Canada (QC)

    3$ tax on 9L?? You hit the jackpot!!
  10. tjohn2401

    tjohn2401 (0) May 26, 2010 Michigan

    What happens if you don't declare and then they search your car?
  11. pirate99gs

    pirate99gs (0) Nov 9, 2014 Canada (QC)

    You are hit with penalties, and license is put into the system, meaning more scrutiny every time you cross.

    I was always planning on declaring, just hoping the border guard gives me an early Xmas present...
    Seany and tjohn2401 like this.
  12. MCBanjoMike

    MCBanjoMike (0) Aug 7, 2014 Canada (QC)

    I always declare and I almost always pay taxes, except if I have a relatively small amount of beer. A Quebec customs agent once told me that they typically don't care about a single six-pack, but when you're crossing with 8L of beer they typically raise their eyebrows. Taxes aren't too bad, I brought back 18L of Alchemist beer (my girlfriend was with me so we were allowed 2x9L) and I paid less than $30 in taxes on about $100US of beer. Absolutely worth it, and I don't want to get myself in trouble with customs just to save $25.
  13. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers (0) Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    Sorry that was the extra tax I had to pay not the total. Still was like $25 or something all together, but she made a big deal about me being over and then acted like the penalty of $3 was going to ruin me lol.
    Seany likes this.
  14. Hal_Hickey

    Hal_Hickey (0) Oct 17, 2014 Canada (BC)

    I always cross at Cornwall as Ontario has a 45 litre per person total limit. Taxes are reasonable. Paying or not paying is a crap shoot and as someone else already mentioned, totally at the discretion of the border officer. I summarize all been purchases on a spreadsheet (I write it in), which indicates, where, $, how many cans/bottles and total litres. The officers like that you come prepared to declare everything and may be slightly more inclined to let you pass with overages.

    Sometimes at smaller crossings the officers are bored, due to lack of activity, so they may drill or search you just for something to pass the time.

    I believe the taxes in QC are slightly lower than Ontario, so if you are inside the 9 litre limit. Remember, one case of Heady is slightly over 11 litres of beer!
    Seany likes this.
  15. Sammy

    Sammy (0) Dec 1, 2003 Canada (ON)
    Society Trader

    6 pak=2 L, 8L=24 cans or bottles
  16. mtomlins

    mtomlins (0) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    You gotta be careful with blanket statements @Sammy , it depends on the size of the cans. Like @Hal_Hickey mentioned, a case of Heady (or any other 475ml format can) will clear 11L.
  17. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor (0) Mar 7, 2013 Canada (QC)
    Society Trader

    So that brings up a question I have always had in the back of my mind, but that I've thankfully never had to find the answer to since I guess I've always been lucky: If I cross with 8L--or whatever the limit is--I am technically fine, but the second I add two extra cans I have to pay tax on all of it (including the amount that the gov't benevolently "allows" me to bring back)? I always thought (or hoped) you just paid on the difference, i.e. you'd pay 8 L of tax bringing 16L back with you.

    Also, I am curious as to how all the people that always or almost always pay phrase it. Do you all just immediately give them the number of liters when they ask? I am always honest but vague and just get waved through.
    #17 TheDoctor, Dec 2, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  18. TheSevenDuffs

    TheSevenDuffs (0) Jan 20, 2010 Canada (ON)

    You missed one of the biggest factors: they have the ability to seize anything you did not declare. I know people who this has happened to.
    digdug1810 and mtomlins like this.
  19. Seany

    Seany (0) Sep 27, 2005 Canada (QC)

    Technically, if just a day trip, you are allowed 8.5L, but must pay tax on all of it.
    More than 48 hours, you are allowed 8.5L tax exempt, plus another 8.5L you must pay tax on. At least this is how I understand it.

    I live 3km from the border and cross about once a week. I find they have become more strict in the last year or so. I think they are catching on that we are not bringing back 9$ 24 packs of Genny or Busch anymore...
  20. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor (0) Mar 7, 2013 Canada (QC)
    Society Trader

    Thanks! That makes sense. Makes me realize that I really don't buy as much beer as I think I do sometimes lol.
  21. mtomlins

    mtomlins (0) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    If you have been gone for more than 48hrs and are returning to Canada via Quebec, then:
    • You can bring back up to 8.5L duty free (source).
    • You can bring an additional 9L, but you may/will pay tax and SAQ markup (source).
    • You cannot legally bring greater than 17.5L of beer back from a vacation.
    If you have been gone for more than 48hrs and are returning to Canada via Ontario, then:
    • You can bring back up to 8.5L duty free (source).
    • You can bring an additional 36.5L, but you may/will pay tax (source).
    • You cannot legally bring greater than 45L of beer back from a vacation.

    How you chose to present what you are bringing back is a personal choice, but I (like most other) would recommend not lying or quibbling; you don’t have to be proactive in telling them what you have, but answer direct questions with direct answers. As @JonnyBeers pointed out, 200ml does make a difference at times.

    I had a customs agent ask me why I would bring back beer having only been gone for 36 hours knowing I was going to have to pay tax. It turned out he was a craft beer guy also, and we talked beer and good local breweries for 5+ minutes and then he waved me through. My point being you have no idea who you are getting at the gate, so be honest and be ready to pay the tax you legally owe. Besides, if you were worried about the extra dollars spent on taxes, you probably wouldn’t be chasin’ whalez :slight_smile:!!
  22. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor (0) Mar 7, 2013 Canada (QC)
    Society Trader

    I agree completely. I view it like any law enforcement. Never lie, but don't volunteer info they aren't specifically asking for. I say I have beer. If they want to know how much it is I can tell them, and so on. But I certainly won't give them an itemized list of what I have the second I pull up. Maybe one day that will get all my beer seized, but I hope not.

    Thanks for the great answer! It makes all the government rules pretty clear (which is quite a feat!) :grinning:
    Coronaeus, Seany and mtomlins like this.
  23. papposilenus

    papposilenus (665) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    I tell the customs folk that I'm going to a friend's house and bringing a cooler of beer with me (truth). On the way home, I say that I'm coming from a friend's house and bringing back a cooler of beer (also truth).

    Just once, coming back into the U.S., they opened the cooler. When I told the woman I didn't have any receipts and didn't know what the dollar value was (again true), she lost interest and sent me on my way.

    Many years ago, crossing into Québec, when they asked me what I did for a living, I said I was unemployed. That was the wrong answer. I spent a couple of hours appreciating the international border through a trailer window.

    So, bring a battered, old cooler that's clearly intended for personal use and don't look like an economic refugee.
  24. TheSevenDuffs

    TheSevenDuffs (0) Jan 20, 2010 Canada (ON)

    I don't think this is correct. At least it is not my understanding of it.

    This is my understanding:

    - If you have been over for 48 hours you get 8.5L duty free
    - You can, at any time, bring back 45L with duty-paid

    Therefore, if you have been over for 48+ hours, you are allowed to import a total of 53.5L, of which you will pay duty on anything above your 8.5L duty-free exemption.
    TheDoctor and mtomlins like this.
  25. mtomlins

    mtomlins (0) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    Hey-Zeus Kreestos, I think you're right!?!? So I got confused when they (the LCBO) said:
    "If you choose to import beverage alcohol products when returning to Ontario from a trip abroad you must.... Not exceed a total of 45-litres of beverage alcohol (any combination of wine, spirits or beer)"​

    However, further down the page, they (the LCBO) states:
    "A duty free entitlement is not included or counted as part of the 45-litre maximum volume limit."​

    I missed that, nice catch 7Duffs. So to clarify/correct my previous BS, if you have been gone for more than 48hrs and are returning to Canada via Ontario, then:
    • You can bring back up to 8.5L duty free (source).
    • You can bring an additional 45L, but you may/will pay tax (source).
    • You cannot legally bring greater than 53.5L of beer back from a vacation (because logic).
    • You can bring 45L back after any length visit, but taxes may/will be charged on the whole shabang.
    Perfecto, clear as mud!!
  26. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers (0) Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    I noticed the provincial markup form changed and the various % for each province is no longer listed. At least not on the form it used to be on. Anyone have a new updated link? Or perhaps the Cdn government no longer lists the provincial limits, and it's buried somewhere in the BC LDB website.
  27. MCBanjoMike

    MCBanjoMike (0) Aug 7, 2014 Canada (QC)

    I'm always vague at first - they'll ask what I purchased and I'll say "some beer" (or the French equivalent). They ALWAYS ask me how much I have, or at least that's how it's gone for like the last 2-3 years. I'd love to get waved through with a case of Heady Topper, but that much beer always seems to draw attention. The most I've ever gotten for free was 8 cans of Heady and two bombers (2 people in the car), which they decided wasn't worth pulling me over for. Maybe I'm just unlucky? On the other hand, they never search my car and I've never been detained.
  28. pirate99gs

    pirate99gs (0) Nov 9, 2014 Canada (QC)

    So in the end xmas didn't exactly come early...ended up paying approx 25$ on 110$cdn. Should've been more as the customs agent halved what I had in cans (couldn't read the bill I guess). Paying the taxes sucks, but the alternative of not declaring and getting caught sucks more.

    Overall it was a great visit, with no waits at Alchemist and Hill. Current batch of Built to Spill from Foam is a juice bomb gone wild! Maybe we can convince Justin that beer pipelines from Vermont are more important that oil pipelines!
    byronic, Hal_Hickey, Seany and 2 others like this.
  29. rejtable

    rejtable (0) Apr 20, 2011 Canada (ON)

    The rules and how much tax/duty/markup you pay are freely available with a little bit of work.

    There are three components to how much you pay...

    Duty.. this is the same wherever you cross into Canada, I forget the exact amount and CBSA changed their memorandum site so I don't see it handy. It's typically just a few dollars for even a large volume of beer. If I recall correctly, it worked out to something like 0.30$ per litre?? I could be wrong, but it's not a lot of money.

    Tax: this varies by border crossing. If you cross into Québec it's 9.975% of value (CDN). If you cross into ON it's 13%.

    Provincial Markeup: most provinces then tack on an extra alcohol markeup. In Québec, you'll pay 0.63$ per litre. In ON it's 0.676$ I believe. DO NOT EVER CROSS INTO New Brunswick if you are either less than 48 hours or over your limit. The provincial Markeup in NB is something like 90% of the value!!!!!

    So, crossing into ON with, say 16L of beer with a CDN value of $200, your estimate would be..

    Duty... don't have the exact amount, call it $4 for the fun of it.
    Taxes = $26
    Markeup = $17.57
    Total = $47.57 give or take.

    That's ignoring the personal exemptions. I am not 100% sure that the exemptions is removed from the equation once you go over. I know someone said above it is, but that should be clarified with CBSA.

    The Memorandom used to be super easy to read and research, but they changed it about a year ago and it's harder to get exact prices now.

    Here it is if you are interested:

    Before crossing I always do a quick calculation using those three inputs just to estimate what I figure I'll pay. One time crossing at Thousand Islands I had a HUGE fight with the border guard who wanted to charge me like $150 for what I estimated to be something like $40. I spent an hour arguing with him and finally found that he had entered my litre volume as hectolitres in his application. Tried to explain to him I wasn't driving a tanker truck!!

    And in terms of approaches at the border, I generally am just honest and tell them I have X litres of beer. Last time I came through at Prescott a few months ago with 32 litres of beer (value well over $300CDN). Guy kind of chuckled and just waived me through!!
    mtomlins and Hal_Hickey like this.
  30. yasky

    yasky (0) Dec 21, 2008 Canada (ON)

    My border crossing experiences East of Toronto:

    Prescott - They'll usually search your phone and computer but wave you through most of the time if you have a "reasonable" amount of bottles. If you have your family they usually wave you through
    Cornwall - Hit or miss. Some of the guards there are lazy fucks and will wave you through no matter what, others will make you go in on a few bottles of beer.
    Champlain - You'll always pay
    Highgate - You'll always pay
    Derby - You'll always pay, plus you'll either get a long lecture or a search depending on your license plate.

    Unless I'm going straight into Montreal I usually just head back to Cornwall or Prescott and cross from there
    Hal_Hickey likes this.
  31. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor (0) Mar 7, 2013 Canada (QC)
    Society Trader

    It all depends on too many factors to plan for. I always use Highgate and have never been charged (knock on wood). On the other hand, I was treated like absolute garbage there and forbidden entry to Canada once, so I hate them regardless (interestingly, I had no beer that time). Now I always make sure to have beer lol

    Either way, reading your post makes me want to rent somebody's kids to be sure of more lenient treatment:wink:
    dabeerbuddha likes this.
  32. yasky

    yasky (0) Dec 21, 2008 Canada (ON)

    One guy at Derby flat out told me they care far more about cigarettes coming back over the border than booze. From What my comprehension of his french told me., being a single guy who's only across for a few hours claiming only beer and having out of province plates made me a prime suspect for Cigarette Smuggling.

    After a long search I gathered up the contents of my car (he tossed my booze in a nearby snowbank so at least it was cool when I got to MTL), loaded them back in, went inside, paid my tax and dropped off the illicit pills I smuggled back into Canada at La Grimoire. :wink:
    Hal_Hickey likes this.
  33. digdug1810

    digdug1810 (0) Mar 1, 2011 New Jersey

    question.. how does this work for the following instance. I am American.. I come into Quebec on 12/20, the next day 12/21 I leave Quebec to head to Vt for beer I then head back into Quebec on 12/21 How much beer can I go back into Quebec with? 8.5L i would assume for free? Can i have more and pay tax? or is that it just 8.5L and anymore and i'm not allowed back in?

    I'm not going to get into the one time i had issues doing the above instance b/c it was a mess of a time and no fun. but the laws/rules/whatever aren't the best and shit is confusing. Needless to say i thought i could come back with however much beer I wanted and just pay a tax.

    I never have an issue going back to America, could have all the beer i want going home... Which leads me to another question. Quebec... where is the best beer besides DDC in Montreal and Dunham.. i know of those two but are there any new up and comers..? If so please let me know I'd love to find a few spots to hit up when I'm up that way.. good IPA's/Saison/Stouts/Wild Ales etc

    Sucks i always seem to be going home days HF is closed so i have to do the double crossing to get HF

    Thanks for the assistance all!
  34. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers (0) Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    It won't matter that you've been in Quebec the first time at all, unless you have a Canadian PR card. When you enter on the 21st with your VT haul, the Quebec border will treat it as your first time.

    That said, I'm pretty sure it's a Canadian law regardless of province that visitors can bring in up to 8.5L of beer per trip duty free, any excess you'd like be subject to the same amount as anyone else, which is 9L additional in Quebec.

    Traveller Info:

    It then points to the Canadian page for travelling which says you can bring in duty free after 48hrs. As a visitor, if you make multiple trips in and out this 48hr rule may apply not sure how they decide. I'm not sure they would keep a record of how much beer you bring in the first time and then apply it to the next day.
    mtomlins likes this.
  35. MasterSki

    MasterSki (0) Dec 25, 2006 Canada (ON)
    Moderator Society Trader

    Does anyone know how they treat it if you mix and match alcohols? Are you exempt on the type that has the higher duty?

    Also, I've never gotten a clear answer on what category mead falls under - is it equivalent to beer/cider or to wine?
  36. Hal_Hickey

    Hal_Hickey (0) Oct 17, 2014 Canada (BC)

    If you are looking for the 48 hour exemption, you cannot mix and match, it's either beer only, wine only or spirits only, with each having their own limitations. Of course if there are two of you, one can have 8.5 litres of beer and the other can have two bottles of wine (or one 40oz of spirits).

    When any alcohol doesn't fall exactly in the description in the regulations, the officers use alcohol ABV as the deciding factor of how to classify it. Since Mead is usually around the same alcohol level as beer/cider, I'd just call it beer when declaring.
  37. MasterSki

    MasterSki (0) Dec 25, 2006 Canada (ON)
    Moderator Society Trader

    I was thinking more like along the lines of if I return after 72 hours with 16x355ml bottles of beer and 1.14L of wine. Do I pay duty on 8 bottles of beer? 375ml of wine? All of the beer? All of the wine?
  38. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers (0) Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    I think it would be up to you how you want to declare your duty free, same as if I'm over the limit on beer, I'd claim the most expensive bottles for duty free, then give them a receipt for the cheap stuff. Have yet to actually have to do that though.

    You are def not allowed to mix and match.
  39. Hal_Hickey

    Hal_Hickey (0) Oct 17, 2014 Canada (BC)

    Since you will be mixing and matching (not allowed under the 48+ hour exemptions), you can claim either the beer or the wine as duty free. You pay duty, provincial liquor board markup and various taxes on the other.
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