Can I bring a U.S. purchase into Canada without paying duty?

BY Allison OuthitPublished Feb 27, 2012

I'm going to be playing in the U.S. for a couple of weeks. Can I buy a guitar and bring it into Canada without paying duty? It would probably cost over $1,000. Does it matter if it's new or used, or where it was made? If there is duty, what is the rate?


Hey Rob,
Everything you buy when you're down in the U.S. is subject to Canadian customs regulations, whether new or used. The rules for personal use are based on dollars spent. If you're gone for more than a week, you can claim up to $750 of goods for personal use without paying duties. After that, the duty is calculated as the HST on the excess value. So, on a $1000 guitar, you'd probably owe $32.50, which is the HST on $250.

Goods for commercial use (which could include you as a working musician) are subject to different rules. In that case, I suggest you contact a customs broker to help you figure it out. Either way, when you first cross into the U.S., make sure that in addition to your work visas you have a list of all the equipment you already have with you, and have the border agent take a copy or certify the one you are carrying. That way, there will be no confusion when you come back.


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