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Can You Shop at Duty-Free Without Crossing Border? (10 FAQs)

Published: March 14, 2024
Author: Aman Chopra

Tax-free prices on many items often entice travellers as they pass through airports. With this comes one common question: Can you shop duty-free without crossing the border?

Join us in this article as we navigate the world of duty-free shopping by answering nine frequently asked questions about the topic.

Key Takeaways

  • Duty-free shopping means buying goods in authorized stores, usually at airports or international borders, where buyers are not required to pay certain local import charges (duties) and taxes.
  • Shopping online at a US duty-free retailer allows you to enjoy tax-free prices.|

  • A Canadian package forwarder can efficiently ship your goods to Canada, assuring a smooth cross-border shopping experience.

What Is Duty-Free Shopping?

duty-free store

Duty-free shopping refers to the retail experience where travellers can purchase goods without paying the local import duties, taxes, or tariffs that usually apply to those products. Canadian travellers usually enjoy this shopping perk within international airports, seaports, border crossings and even online.

One great thing about this retail business lies in the huge savings, as the prices of items like electronics, cosmetics, and other duty-free items are often lower than those in regular retail stores. Travellers, whether arriving or leaving the country, can save a lot on these tax exemptions, making it a popular and enticing aspect of their overall travel experience.

FAQS About Duty-Free Shopping

Now, let’s get to know and answer some of the most common questions people ask about duty-free shopping.

1. Can Canadians Buy At Duty-Free Shops Without Crossing Borders?

No. To physically buy at duty-free stores and take advantage of tax savings, Canadian shoppers must also cross the border.

2. Are Duty-Free Prices Always Cheaper?

While duty-free shopping holds the promise of pocket-friendly prices, it’s not always a guaranteed steal. Certain items, like alcohol and tobacco, often come with hefty discounts, but the savings on other items (like local products, limited edition items, and customized items) might not be as striking.

To make the most of duty-free opportunities, be mindful and compare prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal. You may use online platforms and price comparison websites to help you determine if the duty-free price is genuinely a better deal.

3. What Items Can Canadians Purchase Duty-Free?

Some common duty-free items include limited amounts of:

  • alcohol
  • tobacco
  • perfume
  • clothes
  • electronics 

Remember that there can be specific rules about the value of gifts and souvenirs you can bring without paying duties. The rules change based on factors like how long you travelled, so it's important to check the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or official government sources for the latest update on this matter.

4. Are There Limits to Duty-Free Shopping In Canada?

Yes. In Canada, shopping at duty-free shops is subject to certain personal exemption limits. While Canadian travellers can bring back a certain amount of goods without paying taxes and fees, there are limits on the item's value and quantity. Some key points include:

  • Length of Stay - Your duty-free allowance may depend on the length of your stay. The longer you stay, the more you are allowed to bring back duty-free.
  • Personal Exemptions - Personal exemptions allow returning residents to bring back a specific amount of goods without paying customs fees. These exemptions can vary depending on how long your absence is in Canada.
  • Alcohol and Tobacco - There are certain limits on how much alcohol and tobacco you can carry into Canada duty-free. Exceeding these limits may require you to pay customs and taxes.
  • Goods Purchased Duty-Free - Items purchased at duty-free shops at the airport or other border crossings are generally exempt from duties and taxes, but there are limits.

It's important to note that regulations can change, and additional restrictions or allowances may depend on various factors. So, before travelling, it’s best to check the CBSA website or contact them directly for the latest update on duty-free shopping limits and regulations in Canada.

5. Can You Shop Online At Duty-Free Stores In The US?

Yes, you can shop online at duty-free stores in the US. Many duty-free stores provide online platforms for customers to browse and purchase products while saving money on taxes and duties.

However, the availability of online shopping options varies per duty-free store, so it's always a good idea to contact the store or visit their website for up-to-date information on their online shopping services.

6. How Does Duty-Free Online Shopping Differ from In-Person Shopping?

Duty-free online shopping and in-person duty-free shopping share the feature of offering products free of certain taxes and charges, but there are some key differences between the two. Let's get to know some of them:

Key DifferencesOnline ShoppingIn-Person Shopping
Location and AccessibilityAccessible anywhere with an internet connectionTypically located at international airports, seaports, or border crossings
Product SelectionMore extensive, covering a wide range of product categoriesProduct selection may be more limited, focusing primarily on popular items
Prices and DiscountsDiscounts may vary Discounts may vary
Currency and Payment MethodsCredit cards and digital wallets are typically acceptedAccepts various currencies including local and major international ones

7. Can Duty-Free Purchases Be Shipped Directly to Canada?

Yes, duty-free purchases can usually be shipped directly to Canada when placed online. Still, it is important to review the duty-free store's shipping rules for information on charges, delivery times, and any customs duties.

While duty-free products often have lower taxes and tariffs, there may still be certain regulations and fees to consider when shipping across the border. Always ensure that the store can ship to your Canadian address, and be aware of any extra requirements or restrictions that may apply throughout the shipment process. If in doubt, please call the duty-free store's customer care for clarification.

8. Are Canadian Land Border Duty-Free Stores Government Owned?

Canadian land border duty-free shops are usually not owned by the government. Private individuals often run these stores under regulations and guidelines imposed by the Canadian government.

9. Is There A Difference Between Canada and US Duty-Free Stores?

Yes, there are differences between duty-free stores in Canada and the United States. The differences include:

  • product offerings
  • specific customs regulations
  • store ownership and operations

While both countries have duty-free stores at their borders, airports, and seaports, the products available may vary depending on local preferences and supplier agreements. Each country has its own set of customs procedures and limits, which affect the number and categories of things that travellers can buy duty-free.

In addition, the ownership and management of duty-free businesses may differ, impacting policies and operations. Travellers should be aware of these differences and stay up to date on the specific rules and offerings of duty-free stores in the country from which they are coming or departing.

10. Do My Packages Still Go Through Customs If I Ship From A Duty-Free Shop?

Yes, even if you purchase from a duty-free shop, your packages may still pass through Canadian customs when shipped to Canada. While duty-free stores often provide reduced or waived duties and taxes at the point of sale, Canadian customs officials will still inspect the package's contents to ensure compliance with import regulations, assess any applicable duties or taxes, and confirm that the shipment complies with any restrictions or prohibitions.

Ship With The Best Cross-Border Shipping Provider

a toy truck carrying boxes

Here’s the best and easiest way to get your hands on your desired US items: shopping online and shipping them via a package forwarder. But take note that this works best only if you’re thinking of travelling to the US to shop.

So, instead of spending a lot of time, energy, and money on gas to go across the border, why not enjoy the comforts of your home and shop anywhere you want? Simply go to your preferred duty-free store’s shopping site, add items to your cart, and check them out using your exclusive US shipping address.

Also, you may be wondering how a package forwarder makes online duty-free shopping better. Well, here’s the answer: package forwarders help you shop at ANY online stores from the US without having to worry if the store ships to Canada or if you will have to pay for expensive shipping costs.

Finally, if you’re a Canadian who shops from the US, shop smarter and ship better. Enjoy all the perks that come with using a cross-border shipping service provider and choose only the best one in the industry.

Start Your Journey With Shippsy

Ship with Shippsy today

Speaking of package forwarding, if you haven’t found a cross-border shipping provider that will match your shipping needs, why not consider Shippsy?

Shippsy leads in helping online shoppers anywhere in Canada get their hands on many US items without ever leaving your doorstep.

Shippsy also offers the lowest shipping rates ever! Starting only at 6.99 CAD for Ontario and 7.99 CAD for Quebec and British Columbia, imagine the amount you can save in shipping your US orders. If you’re worried about the waiting time, we have unbeatable shipping times for you, too!

Remember, you deserve an easy, affordable, and exceptional cross-border shipping experience. Visit Shippsy’s homepage now and click the Get Started button to start your package forwarding journey!


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