U.S. senators from NY urge Canada to raise duty free allowance

Two U.S. Senators are asking Canada to revise its duty free allowance policy for short trips across the border.

New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are urging Canada to raise the duty free allowance to make it on par with the more favorable ones in the U.S. Canada’s current policies, Schumer and Gillibrand said, are discouraging Canadians from shopping in the U.S., which is resulting in American retailers missing out on potential customers and revenue.

The Senators say that the change would boost shopping excursions by Canadians to places that border Canada like Buffalo, Watertown, Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh, New York. The U.S. duty free policy is more favorable for American shoppers traveling back from Canada than Canada’s is for Canadian shoppers traveling back from the U.S.

Currently, the U.S. permits American residents traveling across the border to bring up to $200 worth of merchandise back to the U.S. duty free for travel lasting less than 48 hours. For travel lasting longer than 48 hours, U.S. residents are permitted to bring back up to $800 worth duty free.
Canada currently does not allow for its residents returning from U.S. trips under 24 hours to bring back items duty free. For trips between 24 and 48 hours, Canada allows its residents to bring up to $200(CAD) worth of merchandise purchased in the U.S. back duty free, and for trips over 48 hours, residents can bring back merchandise purchased across the border duty free up to $800(CAD).

Schumer and Gillibrand said that Canada’s increasing their duty free threshold would bolster economic growth and help local retailers on both sides of the border and have written to Canada’s government and its Ambassador this week asking that it ideally be on par with that of the United States.

The Senators are also asking for a change affecting shipments made via courier. Such shipments are not subject to paperwork or duty assessment if under $200 when entering the U.S. from Canada, but Canada begins assessing duties on goods valued above $20(CAD). For example, a $100 shipment of apparel purchased on the inter-net and shipped from Canada into the U.S. would not be subject to a US import duty, but the same purchase made from a U.S. company and shipped to Canada would be subject to a duty.

Instead of policing low-value shipments and merchandise from short trips across the border, the Senators argue that a raised duty free exemption would allow the Canada Border Services Agency to dedicate more resources toward higher risk shipments and higher ticket items than the ones that are likely to come across the border from every day retailers in the U.S.

Schumer and Gillibrand urged Canada’s government and its Ambassador to increase its duty free exemptions to put it on par with the U.S. in order to further expand its current trade relationship and make it more mutually beneficial for both countries.

In addition to Schumer and Gillibrand, 10 other Senators co-signed the letter to be sent to the Canadian Ambassador.