There are many hidden or forgotten costs that are associated with leaving your home for a vacation in another country. One of these forgotten fees is duty. If you plan on leaving the country and making purchases while you're on your vacation, duty is something you're going to be confronted with when you return. This article will give you a basic overview of Canadian customs duties so that you won't be surprised when you try to re-enter the country after your trip.
A duty is a fee that is levied by Canadian customs. These are the people who are responsible for going over the things you're bringing with you into the country and of preventing certain things from entering the country. The duty is meant to discourage people from buying things in other countries that they could get at stores near their homes at a slightly higher price, and of collecting taxes on purchases that were made in stores outside the country where tax is not automatically deducted.
You don't have to pay duty on everything you buy while you're on vacation, because the government recognizes that sometimes there are things you can't buy in Canada, and that you need some souvenirs for you and your friends. For this reason, you are allowed to bring a certain dollar value of goods back with you which differs depending on the length of your stay (this is to discourage cross-border shopping trips while still encouraging vacations).
If you're gone from your home for longer than 24 hours, you can bring $50 worth of goods with you. If your trip lasts two days or more, the amount of goods you can bring back jumps to $400. If you're away longer than a week, you get to have $750 worth of stuff with you when you come back. This only includes the things you bought while away, not anything you took with you when you left (for example your cell phone or your suitcase). If you're gone less than 24 hours or you bring more stuff back with you, you have to pay a duty of about 18%. Keep your receipts so you know how much you have.
Some goods are subject to extra restrictions. The stick on badges you got at your conference are fine, but you can only bring 1.5L of alcohol and 200 cigarettes back. Some items are completely prohibited, such as guns, weapons, and certain meats, fruits, and plants.