Worth the drive to the border?

Is it really that beneficial to drive the nearly 2 hours to get to the US border to save a few bucks on something? A lot of Canadians think it is. You make a day or weekend out of it, load up the car with the family or friends, and head to New York state to hit the outlet malls, or even just Target (since we still have a year till we get Target in Canada). As a child we often went to the states to do some shopping, but it was always an add on to a trip we were taking anyways. Usually heading down to an amusement park and then some back to school shopping. Clothing used to be a lot cheaper (I’m not talking outlets, just regular stores), and you could shop at stores that Canada didn’t even have yet. Now, we have pretty much all the same stores, and with our dollar being so high, the savings isn’t nearly as great. I personally don’t think it is worth a trip down if you just plan on buying clothing, though I don’t bu a lot of clothes anyways…

Shoes, beauty products, baby stuff, and alcohol are still significantly cheaper though. When our son was 5 months old, we headed to the border to shop for some baby things. We were warned by the Border agent that any cribs or car seats would not be allowed back into Canada, since the safety laws on these baby items are much stricter here. We were heading down for a highchair and a humidifier, plus any cute clothes we might find, so we were fine. You might think a 2 hours drive, with gas being so high, wouldn’t be worth it for these two items, but it totally was! The highchair we wanted was $100 cheaper, and the humidifier was half the price! HUGE savings. I always pick up some face wash, face cream, and makeup too, since the US prices are usually close to half what I would pay at my Wal-Mart.

Even with these savings, we don’t do this often.My husband takes business trips a couple of times a year to the US, and will often pick up toys and clothing for the kids at cheaper prices, and that is enough to satisfy my desire to make a run for the border. However, recently I have had a major itch to go again. More baby stuff. You Americans have no idea how lucky you have it when it comes to the price of baby gear. The price difference on highchairs made we want to cry, but the price difference on strollers? IT’S WORSE! Thankfully we got a great deal on our Graco Travel System from Costco.ca when I was pregnant with our son (remember, you can’t buy American car seats). And than we bought a floor model Graco “umbrella” stroller from SuperStore with our PC points! But now that we have two kids, a double stroller would be very practical. And now that we have a minivan, a double stroller will fit in the trunk! I’ve had my eye on this one for a little while now, it just came out this week in Canada. The price at Babiesrus.ca is $299cdn. The price at Babiesrus.com is $199usd! Worse yet, the price varies by colour, some colours online at Babies R Us and Target are as cheap as $160usd! WHAT THE HECK! It’s the exact same stroller, and its nearly HALF THE PRICE, and our dollar is worth just about the same right now! It absolutely drives me crazy. The reason? Maybe it’s because there is nowhere near the competition in Canada for these products, maybe it takes more to ship them here? Frankly, I don’t care what the reason is, I just want a cheaper stroller.

So now I have to sit and wait for the hubby to take a business trip (was supposed to be this month, now it’s looking like next month) or we make the drive down as a family…

Do you cross border shop? What items do you buy because they are cheaper?

Of course there are laws around cross border shopping, so that people stay in Canada and support our economy (and pay taxes to the Canadian government). In order to assure a duty free trip, please make sure to follow these limits:

24 Hour Exemption – $50 CAD

If you are absent from Canada for more than 24 hours, you may claim up to $50 CAD worth of goods duty free as your personal exemption. If the goods you bring in are worth more than $50 CAD in total, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead, you will have to pay full duties on all goods you bring in. All goods must be with you when you arrive and you can not include tobacco or alcoholic in this exemption.

48 Hour Exemption – $400 CAD

If you are absent from Canada for more than 48 hours, you may claim up to $400 CAD worth of goods duty free, and must have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. You may include some tobacco and alcohol products in this exemption, and should review the section below called “Alcohol and Tobacco” for more details.

7 Day Exemption – $750 CAD

If you are absent from Canada for more than 7 days, you may claim up to $750 CAD worth of goods duty free. You may include some tobacco and alcohol products in this exemption, and should review the section below called “Alcohol and Tobacco” for more details.

With the exception of tobacco and alcohol products, you do not need to have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. To calculate the number of days you have been absent, do not include the date you left Canada but include the date you returned. Dates matter, not times. For example, we consider you to have been absent seven days if you left Friday the 7th and returned Friday the 14th.

Above information on personal exemptions from crossbordershopping.ca

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