Fun at the Border

Discussion in 'Canada' started by polloenfuego, Nov 6, 2014.

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  1. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    So a week back I was returning to Canada after a day trip to New York state with my wife. We live in Ottawa, which is about an hour from the US border and about 2.5 hours from my "local" bottle shop in Watertown NY.

    We had a lovely day in Watertown, and I spent about $250 at the local beer seller. That was the extent of our purchases in the good ol USA, and we headed back to Canada.

    Now there is no allowance for alcohol on a day trip across the border. Nor is there any duty waiver for a trip less than 24 hours.

    As we pulled up to the border gate I got all the receipts ready. My wife was driving as I recently fell victim to a concussion.

    The border guard was a friendly bloke, my wife and he chatted a bit as they reviewed our passports. Then he asked about our trip...

    "How long away?"

    - 5 hours

    "How much did you spend?"

    - $250 USD

    "Any alcohol?"

    - Yes, 16 liters or just short of two cases.


    - $250


    - $250

    "You spent $250 on less than two cases of beer? Is it magic beer?"

    - (my wife very dryly replies) It is to this idiot (nods toward me).

    At this point they look at me, shake their heads and the guard says I have to pay duty. I went inside and did my patriotic duty. By the way, duty is only about $40 on $250 of beer coming into Ontario.

    Anyone else have any fun border stories? Or stories about smart ass wives? Just figured I'd share this one, as it made me smile.
    taxandbeerguy, Phyl21ca, SebD and 6 others like this.
  2. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    Moderators: I think in my post-concussion haze I may have posted this in the wrong place...Can you please move to the Canada forum?
    mtomlins likes this.
  3. drtth

    drtth Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Flag/report your OP or they won't see your request.
    F2brewers likes this.
  4. ONovoMexicano

    ONovoMexicano Jun 14, 2012 New Mexico

    Got stopped at the border between Juarez and Mexico after I ventured down there for a beer tasting. I got a hold of a few craft beer made in Juarez and was driving with them in my car when it occurred to me I shouldn't have them in plain sight. I hastily put one in the glove box as I pulled up to the border. Traffic was backed up so I sat waiting to cross for over an hour in 100 degree heat. I heard a pop and saw my glove box leaking...the beer I'd put there had exploded and now my car smelled like beer.

    When I finally got to the border the agents flagged me since I was a lone person crossing the border into the US after going down for no apparent reason (they didn't buy I went down there for a beer tasting, which as I said it, even I realized sounded like BS). I got the full on interrogation, the drug sniffing dogs went through my entire car, and then I had to pass through a massive x-ray machine. I was nervous as all hell and at a certain point thought for sure I was going to jail (they make you so guilty that you start convincing yourself your guilty of something) but after about another 45 minutes of high drama where they left me sitting there shitting bricks, I was allowed to go.
  5. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    When I first got my Nexus card, I never ever thought to tell them that I go to the US for beer releases, festivals etc. Wonder what their reaction would have been? :grinning:
    TheSevenDuffs and Rutager like this.
  6. KurtisR

    KurtisR Jun 1, 2013 Canada (ON)

    I've never had to pay duty on quick day girlfriend and I a couple weeks ago after raiding Warren/Ferndale came back with 24 bottles of beer, 3L of mead, and a bottle of wine. They didn't care about the booze or the dollar amount.
    checktherhyme likes this.
  7. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    I cross the same point about every three weeks, I usually get asked to step inside about one in four time times. Nobody stays lucky forever
  8. ChristianFinz

    ChristianFinz Feb 25, 2012 Canada (AB)

    Years back I did a trip to Seattle and Olympia, WA. Visited a few breweries and loaded up the trunk of my rental car with about 12 to 15 cases of beer.

    Driving back via Aldergrove on a sunny, Friday afternoon. No traffic coming into Canada, an apparently frustrated CBSA officer ad the window, you could see he just wanted this shift to end and go home, I hand him passport...

    Him: where you coming from?
    Me: Seattle and Olympia
    Him: For how long were you gone?
    Me: for 3 days
    Him: Anything to declare?
    Me: Yes, I have a trunk full with beer.

    He hands me back my passport with the words:" Fuck off and go..."

    I was honest and declared it...
  9. KurtisR

    KurtisR Jun 1, 2013 Canada (ON)

    Yeah...I cross and buy beer pretty much weekly.
  10. bylerteck

    bylerteck May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)

    Had to pay duty once only in about 10 trips to the U.S. for beer. Coming back from Vermont was the only duty paid, which was far too confusing for the CBSA officer b/c I live in Ontario but crossed the border in Quebec, so different tax regulations, etc. He got fed up and just said 'pay $5 each and you can go'.
    SebD likes this.
  11. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    I stand should probably buy a lottery ticket
  12. BeerStyx

    BeerStyx Nov 11, 2014 Canada (ON)

    Wow, $40 for $250 is not that bad. I was expecting more. Hoping to make a run to Buffalo soon and pick up some lambics and stouts.
    AugustusRex likes this.
  13. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    As some of the others here have said, you may get asked to pay, you may get waved along. $40 was for tax and duty...duty is the cheaper of the two at about $8. HST was the rest.

    Best bet is to always declare, be prepared and have all receipts ready and hope they just smile and wave.
  14. KurtisR

    KurtisR Jun 1, 2013 Canada (ON)

    Yeah I wish I was that lucky.

    But always declare, even if you have to pay a bit you win in the long run.
  15. TheSevenDuffs

    TheSevenDuffs Jan 20, 2010 Canada (ON)

    Nexus on the way in to the US, regular lines on the way back :slight_smile:
  16. KurtisR

    KurtisR Jun 1, 2013 Canada (ON)

    I told a border guard I was heading down to Kuhnhenn, Dragonmead, etc one time and he responded with "I love Dragonmead! I used to work at the car shop next door and they used to give us free samples. Have a good time!"
  17. SebD

    SebD Nov 24, 2010 Canada (ON)

    When my friend and I were coming back from Vermont this summer we had about 4 cases worth of bottles and growlers and were only there for the day. When we got to the border the agent asked us if we were bringing anything back. We showed him the extensive receipts and he said I'll be right back. Comes back, tells us have good day. He probably looked at the receipts and said fuck this shit!
    TheSevenDuffs likes this.
  18. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    Reminds me of the stop we made coming back to Canada at Woodstock NB. We were gave the volume we had on board to the guard in liters, which just confused him. He asked much? We told him we had about 18 liters.

    He asked us to pull into the designated spot and we figured we were done in for over having one measley extra liter (8.5 liters per person is the limit for beer before having to start pay duty...and NB has some of the highest duties in the country).

    He come out of the station scratching his head and says "why didn't you just say you had a two-four each? That I would have understood...have a good day"
  19. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    I thought this was the case with booze and beer, but according to a buddy of mine whom works with CBSA it only applies to non-restricted goods. Taxes and duties for alcohol, ale and tobacco are calculated for the rate of the province you are entering (not where you live) avoid NB like the plague if you are over the base limit they jack you up over duties and taxes.
  20. ChristianFinz

    ChristianFinz Feb 25, 2012 Canada (AB)

    As to "how" the Duty and Tax has to be paid at border crossings across Canada - here's an explanation - hope that helps.

    Beer (from whatever country you're bringing it in) is always "duty free" - that is customs duty - there is none in Canada for beer. This is a federal regulation and is valid everywhere, at every border crossing, Land, Air or Sea.

    If you are being asked to pay "duty" here's the things that have to be paid at the border, and what you actually pay for:
    1. Federal Excise Duty, which isn't really a duty per se, it's a tax that Canadian producers as well as all imports have to pay to CRA. This one is based on the liter amount you have - at the border always assessed with the highest amount possible, which is $0.3122 per Liter (see here
    2. 5% GST - no exemption (Here's a Tip: If you buy in the US, ask the retailer if you get a Federal and State tax exemption on your beer purchase, because you're bringing the beer back to Canada - some retailers do that - with Canadian Passports/IDs - that way you don't pay US tax AND Canadian Tax if you plan on declaring it)
    3. HST/PST - depending on where you live and re-enter to Canada. If you enter from the US into BC, but live in Alberta (and have proof of that), you only need to pay the GST, the provincial tax part is then possibly waived (depending on the CBSA Officer) same is for all other provinces.
    4. Provincial Liquor Markup - that again depends on where you live - if you enter in Alberta it's $0.98/Liter, if you enter in other provinces a percentage of the price you've paid. These will not be calculated for the province you live in, these will be calculated for the province you enter (not as HST/PST). always keep receipts, beer in the US is cheaper, and CBSA officers tend to calculate with higher estimated retail prices if you don't have the receipts to show.
    FYI, there are NO "duty free" amounts of alcohol if you stay less than 48 hours. Only if you stay longer than that you are entitled to a certain amount per person. The CBSA free amount is up to 8.5 liters of beer or 1.5 liters of Wine or 1.14 liters of spirits - and you can only have ONE of the above free amounts - not all combined. Details can be found here

    It's always better to declare and pay the small amounts of fees. It's really not a lot. Because if you get caught, you cannot revoke your statement "nothing to declare" - it's too late. On top of all above fees that you'll have to pay, there might also be a hefty fine with that, making the beer more expensive than if you would have bought it in Canada... Plus - remember - you will be marked in the CBSA system, so next time you re-enter Canada CBSA already knows you've been caught once and will likely check you again...

    All of the above is also depending on the CBSA Officer. Some are strict and enforce all of this, some are more relaxed and it's not worth their time to do 15 mins of paperwork for $10 in taxes and fees.
    TheSevenDuffs, polloenfuego and ckoop like this.
  21. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    Thanks @ChristianFinz

    Point 4 clarifies what my buddy was telling me..provincial liquor markups are quite different province to province...I know ON is not hard on beer, but is on wine (as would BC be I suppose). New Brunswick liquor markup is nearly 80% if I recall correctly.

    Be aware of these numbers and your limits before crossing.

    My provincial liquor markup fee on 16 liters of beer was $11 (which is about $0.70/liter) when I crossed into NB it would have been a fee of $210 (82% of the value of good purchased). I guess Moosehead still holds some sway in NB eh?
  22. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    Yup. BC is terrible as well. A $10US shelf beer will end up costing you close to $20CDN if you are asked to pay excise.duty/tax/markup.
  23. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    great story, my wife I am sure can relate..

    I haven't had any beer related stories over the border, but lord in the past I had plenty with CCs when traveling.

    They are the worst in my experience particularly if you are travelling alone.
  24. mtomlins

    mtomlins Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    I came across the border into Ontario from NY after visiting family in Michigan and Ohio for 7 days. I picked up a bunch of baby stuff (cloths, toys, excersaucer, etc.) from my sister-in-law and a bunch of my old homebrewing equipment from a friend’s basement. When I got to the border, the guard asked me what I had to declare. I was honest, “A bunch of baby gear for my first kid, a bunch of equipment to make beer, and 4.5…”. The guard interrupted me asking me if I realized that having a newborn was mutually exclusive to having time to make beer and drink it! We had a good laugh! She asked what else I had to which I added that I also had 4.5 cases of store bought beer.

    “You’re going to need it!” she said and waved me through! Awesome.
  25. CaptainMurphy

    CaptainMurphy Sep 5, 2014 Canada (NS)

    I live in NS, which means I always end up crossing the border in NB. Every time I go over the limit (which I always declare), they pull me over and I end up paying 100-110% markup on the value of what I'm over. That being said, I always seem to cross when it's absolutely dead and the agents are looking for something to do. Gotta hit up busier crossings, since they have let my friends through a few times.
    Electros likes this.
  26. Electros

    Electros Feb 20, 2007 Canada (ON)
    Moderator Society Trader

    3 mix 6-packs from Wegmans, 10.51$ in duties and taxes, lame.
  27. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    That is exactly why I usually go for bigger priced items...duty and border fees don't change, but the HST does.

    I'm about to go over and a grab another order soon, with some Velvet Merlin, Bruery, BA Yeti, and a four of BCBS among others. The order is at about $400, and should be about $100 in duties and taxes. I will pay $100 for quality and selection fee as I see it. Most of these beers will never get to the LCBO
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