A Facebook page calling for American-only hours at Costco in the U.S. has found a "friend" in B.C.'s tourism minister.
Pat Bell said that Canadians shouldn't be taking their money to Costco's American locations if they want to avoid the wrath of Americans who feel their shopping centres are being filled up with consumers looking to save a few quick bucks on a lower-valued currency, reports 24 Hours Vancouver.
“I want British Columbians to stay at home and shop at home,” he said. "“I’m a personal friend of the Facebook page, if they don’t want Canadians to go across the border and shop down there, I’m OK with that. I want them staying in British Columbia and shopping here.”
Bell, speaking during a Vancouver Board of Trade meeting, responded to a cross-border back-and-forth sparked by the Facebook page, which complains about how crowded the Bellingham, Washington Costco becomes when Canadians come to visit.
The Facebook page generated over 2,400 "Likes" before it was removed but it has since reappeared, with a banner photo lifted from the "Canada on Strike" episode of the popular cartoon South Park.
The Facebook page wasn't the only shot that American shoppers took at Canadians for shopping at the Bellingham Costco.
A Youtube video posted online on August 13, 2012 complained about Canadians "flooding" the Bellingham Costco just to "Buy American Cheap Milk."
24 Hours also reported that the flood of shoppers into the U.S. has become so strong that Costco has announced intentions to build a new store in Bellingham, according to Ken Oplinger, CEO of the Bellingham-Whatcom County Chamber of Commerce.
Oplinger called Canadians "friends" and was thankful to them for helping keep the economy afloat during the downturn of the past few years.
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>