How To Avoid Dropping Precious Dollars on Import taxes And Duties

How To Avoid Dropping Precious Dollars on Import taxes And Duties

Let’s be real: online shopping has changed the retail game forever. It’s become a quick guilty pleasure for many of us and the little dose of convenient retail therapy and a mild adrenaline rush when your order arrives is addictive.

But for all of its glory, the one thing that can kill the excitement of that package arriving at your doorstep is having to dish out what feels like half your paycheque for import taxes and duties.


These taxes are associated with bringing the item(s) into Canada, and it’s often at this point that you regret not getting yourself together to take the trip to the mall.

Of course, sales tax – the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) – is inevitable no matter where or how you purchase an item and we just have to accept that.

Keep in mind that the GST is applied after customs duties have been applied so the amount of import tax you’re slapped with depends on both the type of product you’ve ordered, and the country that it’s coming from.

What also varies is the amount you’re charged for brokerage, which fluctuates depending on the currier company used to get packages processed through Canada Customs at the Canadian border.

These fees are passed down to the customer – and can often come as a surprise.

avoid import duties taxes

Such fees are usually much higher than those of the country’s shipping giant, Canada Post, and some include brokers fees in courier costs, while others will add them on top.

To avoid surprises, check whether your shipping service includes such brokers fees.

If this info is absent from the site, you can always check with the individual shipping company.

Sometimes, one of your click-happy purchases may arrive and the bearer of such purchases – the delivery service person – may ask for very little in the duties and taxes department in exchange for your anticipated items.

avoid import duties taxes

Naturally, this is the case if you’ve ordered the product within Canada but there are ways to spend less on products from outside of Canada’s borders.

Savvy online shoppers know of another way to cut costs.

When it comes to taxes and duties: consider the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Thanks to NAFTA, Canadian shoppers don’t pay import duties on items that were produced in the United States, and are arriving directly to Canada from south of the border.

CETA follows the same guidelines when it comes to items made in the European Union (EU) that are arriving directly to our home and native land.

In both cases, the key factor is that the item is made in either the United States or the European Union; not simply sold there at a company that occupies real estate on American or EU soil.

The distinction is just a few clicks of research away.

avoid import duties taxes

While Canada Post is required to charge the recipient a handling fee of $5 for mail items and $8 for express mail items for duties and taxes evaluated by the the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), if there is no duty or tax owed, they don’t charge a fee.

Finally (not that many of us need the reminder), it’s also important to read shipping policies and prices carefully before typing in your credit card number.

Weight, size, speed, and quantity all affect shipping costs. It’s also super important to remember to also consider the exchange rate when it comes to shipping fees (and for the cost of the items, obviously).

Oh, and be weary of drinking and online shopping (something that has become an issue); a steep bill may not be the only surprise that shows up on your doorstep.