December 5, 2014 2:56 pm

To buy, or not to buy? What people crossing the border can bring back


WINNIPEG –Whether it’s nunchucks, turtle-skin boots or throwing stars, Canadians working at the border are bound to find some strange things in shopper’s suitcases.

Travelling across the border has a few rules that not everyone is aware of, and Chief Lucy Bettencourt of the Canada Border Services Agency says there are key things to remember when coming back into Canada.

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“[People] think that if they purchase things at the duty-free shop, they can bring them back without having to include it in their declaration or pay any duties and taxes,” said Bettencourt. “Which is not true.”

Travellers should also be aware of the amount of time they spend across the border. If you spend seven days shopping in America, you have an $800 limit, but if you spend less than 24 hours, no personal exemptions are allowed.

There are also items that can be purchased legally in America, but are illegal to bring back into Canada, Bettencourt pointed out.

“This one you can buy almost anywhere,” said Bettencourt, pressing the button on a small switch-blade knife, opening it instantly. “But because it’s operated with a button, it’s not permitted. A folding knife is different.”

With the holiday season in full swing, presents going to and from Canada also have rules. Even if it was a present that was given to you, you must declare it when you cross the border.

“If at all possible, have your gifts not wrapped,” said Bettencourt. “So that if we need to examine them, they’re ready and easy to access.”

For more information on border crossing, what you can bring back and any other questions, please contact the border information service at 1-800-461-9999, or visit

© 2014 Shaw Media

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