Duty free shopping is one of the perks of crossing the border. Most travelers associate “duty free” with saving money and they’re right. The term “duty free” means that the store is exempt from paying certain duties or taxes on the goods they are selling since they are going to sell them to people who are leaving the country. To put it more simply, these goods are not taxed because they are for export only. Because of this, the store is able to pass on part of the savings to its customers, enabling them to buy high-end products at really low prices.
Duty free shops can be found in about a third of the crossings along the US-Canada border. Because of the definition of “duty free,” one cannot buy goods in a duty free shop located in the country from which you are coming from. You will need to “export” the goods first.
Now, it is important to know that while the goods are “duty free,” it does not mean that you will also be “duty free” when you pass through customs. Your goods must fall within the import allowance given by the country you are entering in order for your purchases to remain “duty free.” If you exceed your personal import allowance, you will be required to pay duties and taxes. To learn more about personal allowances, please visit our Restricted and Prohibited Items page.
You can find the locations of Duty Free Canada shops here and Duty Free Americas shops here.