Many Canadians are taking advantage of the high Canadian dollar by shopping across the border — with cheap milk and gas being two of the big draws — but some Americans are fed up with the cross-border crowd.
Some Bellingham, Wa., residents started a Facebook page calling for American-only hours at the local Costco.
On the Facebook page "Bellingham Costco needs a special time just for Americans," residents write that they have seen flats of milk stripped away in seconds.
Some write that they have to wait in long lines at the Costco gas station as Canadians fill up first their cars, and then their gas cans.
Others have posted photos of cars with British Columbia licence plates that take up more than one parking space.
Some just complain about Canadians being rude.
Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, is urging locals to have patience for their Canadians visitors. He said that without them, the living situation in the city and county would be quite different.
"In the last two years, our sales tax generation has doubled or tripled the pace in the rest of the state, and its almost entirely because of the Canadians coming south," he said.
The administrator of the Facebook page, which had over 2,000 "Likes" as of Sunday, posted a message earlier this week telling Canadians that they are not being blamed.
"To our Canadian friends on here that think we hate you: You have to look at the root of the problem. Bellingham has laws that keep big box companys from expanding. The overcrowding in this small, slow paced town has agitated people," the note said.
A spokesperson for Costco said the Bellingham store is bursting at the seams, and that the company would love to expand the Bellingham store.
It would also like to install more lines and pumps at its gas station, but there's no room to do so on the current property.
While the Bellingham Facebook community page implores Costco to set aside special opening hours for Americans, just as it used to do for preferred customers, some commenters want the Canadians just to go away.
A senior VP told CBC News that the store isn't looking to change its policy on shoppers, which is that anyone with a Costco membership can shop at any Costco store in the world.
According to a report by Seattle's KIRO TV, Bellingham police said that Costco is now paying for an off-duty officer to handle the parking lot crowd two days a week.
The Rules Have Changed
The biggest change to cross-border shopping is the increased allowances to duty-free purchases. Canadian travellers outside the country for more than 24 hours can now bring in up to $200 in goods. The previous limit was capped at $50. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/" target="_hplink">Photo courtesy of: Flickr/ blmurch </a>
The Rules Have Changed: Part II
As of June 1, Canadians who find themselves outside of the border for 48 hours or longer will have their allowance double from $400 to $800. The limit for travellers outside of the country for more than seven days has also changed. <a href="http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/facts-faits/106-eng.html" target="_hplink">Their limit has increased by $50 from $750 to $800</a>.
It's All About Timing
For those looking to capitalize on the new duty-free rules, here's some advice: plan accordingly as the new rules are still time sensitive. For example, Canadians can't claim duty-free status on any goods if their trip less than 24 hours. Also, the date you left Canada <a href="http://www.taxfreetravel.com/Canada Duty Free Exemptions" target="_hplink">doesn't count towards your trip length</a>, but the day you return can.
Personal vs Commercial Use
The duty-free status still only applies if your purchases are for personal use. That means it can be for your house, a souvenir, or anything else for your own personal enjoyment. However, if it's anything for commercial use, expect to pay full duties. Also, while you can bring back gifts for other people under your duty-free allowance, that allowance can't be shared with other people.
The Rules To Alcohol Still Apply
The rules regarding alcohol purchases outside of Canada still hold true, despite the increased in allowance. For example, you can only claim duty-free status if your trip is 48 hours or longer in length. Also worth noting is that only <strong>one</strong> of the following items can count towards your allowance: 1.14 L (40 oz.) of liquor; OR 1.5 L of wine; OR 24 X 355 ml (12 oz.) containers of beer.
Shoppers can expect to rake in many goods across the border with Canada's new rules, but certain items are still off limits. For example, certain fruits, meats and vegetables are prohibited from entering Canada as are weapons such as guns, mace, and pepper spray -- something worth noting if you find yourself at the local gun show.
The Rules To Tobacco Still Apply
Much like alcohol, the rules to tobacco are still in effect. Canadians need to be outside of the country for at least 48 hours but can bring in any of the following as part of their duty-free purchase: 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars or cigarillos; 200 tobacco sticks; and 200 g (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco.
Ready Your Receipts
Now that the purchases have been made, all that's left is to get them back into Canada and that's where receipts come into play. Canadian Border Services Agency workers may ask for proof of any purchase and having them on hand may be the difference maker between a five-minute process and a five-hour delay. Receipts can also help verify how long your trip was based on the date of your purchases.
Don't Forget To Pack Your Goods
Canadians can now make more purchases over the border but they still need to be sure that they can bring everything back. That's because the CBSA still limits the duty-free status to goods on your possession when returning. There is one exception to this rule though: travellers gone longer than seven days can have the duty-free status apply to their <a href="http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/facts-faits/106-eng.html" target="_hplink">goods delivered to them via mail, courier, or by a delivery agency.</a>