U.S. Customs Allowances

How much can I take across the border?

Canadians and Americans are allowed to bring as much as they like when they cross the border. However, only a portion of what is brought into the U.S. (or Canada) is considered free of taxes and duties. The portion that is tax and duty free is called a customs allowance.


What is an anytime personal exemption?

Canadians can bring 1L of alcohol (1L of spirits, wine and beer) and some tobacco into the U.S. regardless of the duration of the stay in the U.S., so long as the alcohol and tobacco is for personal use.

How much tax and duty will I be charged if I go over my customs allowance?

You may have to pay taxes and duties on purchases over and above the customs allowance. This will be calculated by a Customs official after you declare.

If you exceed your duty free allowance and exemptions entering the U.S., the following approximate U.S. duty and tax rates apply:

  • US $2 – $3 per bottle of liquor, on average
  • US $1.90 per case of beer, on average
  • US $10.07 per carton of cigarettes, on average

*US duty rates on purchases exceeding 1 litre of alcohol are assessed according to alcohol content

Products other than alcohol and tobacco may also require a duty payment.

If you are Canadian, when you return to Canada you may be asked to pay the regular taxes and duties on the value of items over your customs allowance. Be aware that many items qualify for reduced or zero duty.

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