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strawberrycheesecake Dec 7th, 2009 01:23 AM

Questions about customs- Canada and US borders
Hello everyone-
I have a couple quick questions about customs as the title says.I'm sorry if it sounds a bit stupid/inexperienced, I just want to make sure I'm prepared. I have been in Europe for the past couple months, so naturally I've gathered quite a bit of stuff (especially since it's the holiday season and I'm using it as my excuse to buy things for friends and family). I'll be flying Prague-Frankfurt-Toronto, so I know I'll have to go through customs when I get into Toronto. But I then have to drive back into the US to get home. I was wondering if I would have to declare everything when crossing over into the US as well as in Toronto? Also, will I need to declare EVERYTHING I bought here? Honestly, it is a lot, I have a lot of people to buy for and I have been here long enough that things accumulate, and I've forgotten to keep track of how much I've paid for certain items. I'm planning on declaring as much as I remember, but it's a rather extensive list. They're not going to give me a hard time over forgetting to declare something relatively minor like a board game or a couple of sweaters, right? Sorry this is rather long winded, like I said I just wanted to be sure. Thanks in advance for your help :)

Jeff_Costa_Rica Dec 7th, 2009 05:24 AM

The answer is yes to all your questions. You have to declare everything.

I don't know what you mean by "a lot." You're allowed to bring back $800 of merchandise duty free.

Won't you see everything as you are packing to fly back? Wouldn't that be a good time to make a list? Do it then and estimate as best you can what you paid.

RoamsAround Dec 7th, 2009 05:52 AM

Jeff is right! Legally you'll have to declare everything when you arrive in Toronto and again when you cross the border into the USA.

I also don't understand how you can "forget" something when you are packing. Do what most people do is make your list as you pack. It is much better to be up front and honest with the customs people by declaring everything that trying to smuggle something back into the country. Better to error on the side of caution rather than risk being fined for not declaring the items you purchased.

If you tell the customs people in Toronto that you are enroute back to the US you probably won't be assessed any Canadian duty even though because you are driving to the US you are not technically "in transit" for customs purposes. If you are a legal US resident you are allowed up to $800 in goods duty free and more than likely they may not assess duty on the excess amount if it is "rerasonable amount".

strawberrycheesecake Dec 7th, 2009 06:16 AM

I know it wasn't the most educated question. I didn't think to write stuff down though, which was why I was worried about potentially forgetting to list something. My memory is not particularly good. I will use that idea when I'm getting my stuff together, though- thanks for both of your help :)

fmpden Dec 7th, 2009 07:22 AM

Still not following your answer very well. You didn't think to write stuff down? This is not a memory game. I was going through customs behind a young couple and the custom agent was casually looking at their stuff and I thought he was nearly done when he picked up a very small piece of cheap jewelery in a box and commented, "I didn't see on the list." "O, I guess we forgot it." "What else have you forgotten?" With that comment they both were sent to the "special room." Come on, it is not that hard to list everything you have purchased. Prices only need to be a good estimate. Post 9/11 it is not smart to play games with either the immigration or custom agent.

rkkwan Dec 7th, 2009 07:26 AM

Rent a storage in Canada. Then every 30 days, you can go up to Canada, stay for 48 hours, and you'll get a fresh $800 exemption when you come back.

Jeff_Costa_Rica Dec 7th, 2009 08:59 AM

I probably wouldn't remember every last thing I'd purchased over the course of a two-month trip either. As you're packing to fly home, it'll all come back to you. "Here's the sweater I bought in Norway for my niece." So you write down "sweater" and the estimated price. Make a good, reasonable guess at the price. You'll compile your list in no time. :)

Dayenu Dec 7th, 2009 10:34 AM

I just want to say - strawberry cheescake is my favorite ice-cream flavor, and you're making me hungry :))

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