Cross border shopping: buying large appliances in the U.S.

Some issues and questions to ask before your next cross border shopping trip.

I saw in my blog stats that someone was searching for how much duty they would need to pay for appliances purchased in the U.S., so I thought I would try to find an answer to this question.

In no way do I think this is an all-inclusive article. Also, laws and restrictions are subject to change, so it’s best to consult official government websites, provincial websites, and Canadian Customs websites for exact answers to your questions.

A quick internet search presented me with several more issues and questions. Before you purchase that U.S. Appliance ask the following:

What about my warranty? If I live and reside in Canada, but purchase in the U.S., will your warranty still be valid?

  • First, get all information in writing. Don’t just rely on the salespersons advice.
  • Before you go shopping visit the web sites for any manufacturers or brands you think you would like to purchase from and look up warranty information on those websites.
  • Make sure the warranty is valid in the U.S. and Canada. Check the owner/user manual for the appliance in question for warranty information.
  • Look for manufacturer 1-800 numbers for Canada in the warranty information.
  • After you buy be sure to fill out the warranty information cards, as they may use this information in order to contact you in case of recalls or repairs. However, don’t leave it up to chance, make sure you keep an eye out for recalls and repair information on the government run Health Canada web site.
  • To find about your warranty rights, check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.

What about delivery and installation?

If you are thinking about buying from a particular store in the U.S., check out their website for shipping information before you purchase. Some U.S. appliance sellers and stores do offer shipping and delivery to Canada, but with certain limitations and additional fees.

For example, Orville’s is an appliance seller online and with stores in Buffalo, N.Y. Orville’s will ship to Canada, but certain terms and restrictions according to their Canadian Delivery page.

Remember to factor in any additional costs into your final purchase costs.

If you are shopping in person, ask about the following:

  • Is there a purchase minimum?
  • How much is the delivery charge?
  • What about installation?
  • What is the delivery area?
  • What if I live outside of your delivery area?
  • How are appointments for installation set up?

What is the tax or duty I would need to pay when bringing a new appliance across the border? Do I need to pay PST and GST?

According to the Canada Border Service Agency’s website, Items made in the North America (U.S. and Mexico) and that are for personal use are exempt from duty.

Items made in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico are only subject to the GST (not PST) when entering Ontario. If you live in another province, or enter in another province, you need to check with that province as provisions vary.

The longer you are gone, the more you are allowed in personal exceptions when it comes to duty fees. However, if you are gone less than 24 hours, you do not qualify for any exemption and must pay duties on all of your purchases.

Be sure to factor in other fees according to how your pay. A 2007 newspaper article from TheStar.com, informs shoppers that Canadian credit card add a “foreign exchange fee that can range from 1.8 to 2.5 per cent (depending on the bank that issued your card and the type of card you hold) on top of the day’s exchange rate and the cost of your purchase.”

You can get around these foreign transaction fees by applying for a U.S. credit card or opening a U.S. Bank account.

Can I get my money back on U.S. taxes I pay on my appliances?

According to this website, the answer is no. The U.S. does not offer any such tax refund program for Canadians shopping in the U.S.

If you have questions, your best bet is to talk to the store where you plan to make your appliance purchase. Most likely, they have probably heard and answered questions similar to yours.

For further information, consult one of the helpful links below:

Personal Exceptions as outlined by the Canada Border Service Agency

CBC News Cross Border Shopping Tips and FAQs

The Globe and Mail Cross Border Shopper Calculator

Did you real save money on your last U.S. shopping trip? Find out with this handy calculator.

Canadian Consumer Information

Industry Canada – Canadian Consumer Handbook

Shopping in the U.S., 2007 article by TheStar.com

Cross-border Shopping Guide / FAQ for Canadians

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