Archive for 2009

Oct 30 2009

Are there any duty on computers, laptops, printers, cellphone?

Published by under Cross border shopping

The most popular goods often invoke the most questions.

What’s the duty rate for computers, laptops, netbooks, printers (ink-jet printers), printer parts, scanners, photocopiers, hard-disks, monitors, modems, routers, switches?  And what about other gadgets such as cell phones, battery chargers, power supplies and controllers, video games, Digital cameras, TV cameras and video recorders?

The good news is that they are all free from duty.

What about the multi-functional units, such as a HP printer/scanner/copier?

This is covered in category: 8443.31.00 00 – -Machines which perform two or more of the functions of printing, copying or facsimile transmission, capable of connecting to an automatic data processing machine or to a network.

Printer, scanner and copier are all free of duty individually. And there’s no duty when they are combined.

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Oct 27 2009

What’s the duty/tax on Plasma/LCD HD TV?

Lately I was asked a lot of questions regarding importing large screen Plasma/LCD TVs from the US.

After a brief survey, I wasn’t surprised that there’s a sharp price disparity between the US and Canadian prices. Take the popular Sharp – AQUOS 52″ 1080p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV for example, both and have a special offer, one at US$1299, the other at CA$1,899. 46% price difference.

So it makes all the sense to shop in the US. Or is it?

Now how much duty or tax will you be charged? This may change the equation significantly. Here’s the list of taxes that you’ll have to pay when importing that big screen TV.

  • US state tax, depending on which state you purchase the TV. New Hampshire has 0% state tax, whereas Washington taxes 6.5%.
  • Duty of 5% (8528.72, covering high-definition, flat-screen, projection, CRT ), if the TV is not made in Mexico or US. One reader reported 7% being labeled as “luxury tax”. I cannot find reference on excise tax.
  • GST/PST on top of all above.

If you have stayed outside Canada over 48 hours, you can claim your personal exemption of $400 or $750.

One tip, many good brand TV, e.g. Panasonic 50″ Plasma T.V, are  made in Mexico. You can get away without paying the duty by choose those brands. When you cross the border, choose a senior-looking officers who would be more experienced in dealing with NAFTA and duty issues, and make less mistake in calculating the duty/tax.

Do your math, then you know whether it’s worthwhile.

Update Jan. 6 2010: A reader reported that the duty of an HD display TV is 3.5%,  assuming it’s made outside North America.

Another Update: If you live close to the border, try get free shipping to a UPS store near the border and you can go pick up. has the best deals on HDTV, Cameras, and Computers. I saved myself 25%, doing this, see blog here.

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Oct 16 2009

The Loonie is Almost on Par to US$. Let’s Go Shopping across the Border

Did you notice that one Canadian Dollar can exchanged for nearly 0.98 US$ in the last few day?

Well some people did.  And the idea of cross border shopping jumped immediately to their mind.

I had two email in the last two days inviting me to two interviews.  One with CBC Winnipeg, and the with The Global and Mail.

Being a self-appointed expert (well I learnt it by mistakes), I gladly accepted both invitations.   In the pre-interview, the CBC Winnipeg producer asked me when I started cross-border shopping.  My answer, “since there was a border.”

The CBC Winnipeg interview was broadcasted live at Oct. 14th 6:10pm EDT.  I have a recording here, if you’re interested (CBC-Winnipeg-Interview).  And the Global and Mail interview was yesterday, with a promise to publish on next Monday’s paper (Oct. 19th) or the PDF: How to score a cross-border shopping deal.  Have a good reading, if you grab a copy.  It’s full of tips on cross-border shopping that you can read on this website.

I’m glad that our loonie is close to par again with US dollar, like I predicted in early June. But I didn’t expect it to return so soon.

Let’s put aside the debate of why Canadian prices are so high (be it price gauging or scale of economy). By all means, take advantage of the strong Canadian dollar, and Happy Cross-border shopping.

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