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Do US-CAN border stops record your crossings?

DeusfauxDeusfaux Registered User regular
edited March 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
ie, does the returning side know exactly when you originally left the country?

First they'd have to keep that information, which I'm not sure they do, and then share it with the other country's border guards. Seems unlikely to do for every single person crossing every day.

Personal exemption limits (for bringing back goods purchased on the other side) are based on how long you're away for - and I'm wondering if they already know how much time that is, or it's purely based on what answer they get from asking. *

*and in that case, aren't they expecting people to lie all the time and always claim the max limit of $700 for being away for a week? OR, how does a person prove they were indeed away for X amount of time if doubted?

Deusfaux on

Posts

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    You should go ahead and declare the goods you're importing if they aren't bonafide personal items.

    I will say I have imported a ton of alcohol into the US, declared it, and not had to pay any duties on it as nobody in customs cared.

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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Random fact:

    Apparently one of the few agencies that has carte-blanche access to customs/border crossing records are the state agencies responsible for unemployment checks. If you are collecting unemployment, and you cross the border, you had better be able to get back to your job search area at the drop of a hat, otherwise you may not collect unemployment for that week.

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  • UsagiUsagi Feminazgul ~*special snowflake*~Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm pretty sure with the not-exactly-new passport/EDL requirements for border crossings that yes, the DHS does indeed have some record of when and where you crossed the border. At the very least they'll have video recordings of your car and/or your face.

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  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    YMMV, but I've gone on day trips to the US several times, bought about $500 worth of stuff (same day is $0 exemption), been completely honest with the border guard, and not been charged tax. It obviously depends on which one you get, their mood, etc but lying isn't necessary. Worst case scenario you pay roughly the same tax you'd have paid on it if you bought it wherever you live.

  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited March 2011
    If they need to find out when you crossed the border, they can. Your plate is definitely getting snapped as you approach the border and fed into a database, and the US/CAN guards do share information. If you gave them a reason to look up the info (such as trying to avoid taxes on a large amount of stuff) dont be surprised if you get pulled into the interrogation room.

    As for how to prove you were away that long? Receipts. You need to show your receipts anyway so you can be properly taxed or not taxed, as the case may be. If you say you were gone for a week and all your receipts are from the same day youre coming back AND they arent all from the duty free shop 100 feet down the road, be prepared to again get yanked into the interrogation room. Customs doesnt fuck around anymore. 20 or 30 years ago you could get away with this stuff. Since 9/11? Not so much.

    Anecdotal story, my grandparents went over a few years ago with a table saw in their trunk which they forgot was there. On the way back they declared everything they bought, but they got randomly searched and the border guards found the saw. They sat in interrogation all day until one of the cops found a "made in canada" sticker on the bottom of the saw, at which point they were let go. Until that point, the guards were busy trying to find out how much the saw cost so they could tax it. Keep in mind, these are 2 people in their 80s, bringing back over 2000 dollars worth of stuff they were willing to declare and pay tax on.

    Bottom line? Dont try and cheat the taxes at the border, its not worth the hassle.

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  • JdNoaJdNoa Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Last time I crossed the border and claimed the $700 exemption, they asked for our hotel receipt to prove we'd been in the US for that long. Presumably if I hadn't had it handy they'd have checked our purchase receipts like Zeon said.

  • ArrathArrath Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Going the other way, last time I came back from canada the (US) border agent did know exactly when I'd been through before.

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  • oncelingonceling Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Yes, they know.

    The border guards have also chatted with me about people I've been in a car with before (who were not with me that time), who owns the car I'm driving in, when I was last there, what happened to my old car and why I can't get enough of the sweet, sweet US shopping.

  • JeanJean Lonely québécois bear Gatineau, QuébecRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Last time I went to the US, I brang back one pack of beer with me. I said so to the agent and he didn't even verify my claim.. made me kinda regret I didn't bought more.

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Wezoin wrote: »
    YMMV, but I've gone on day trips to the US several times, bought about $500 worth of stuff (same day is $0 exemption), been completely honest with the border guard, and not been charged tax. It obviously depends on which one you get, their mood, etc but lying isn't necessary. Worst case scenario you pay roughly the same tax you'd have paid on it if you bought it wherever you live.

    Actually, they'll charge you more.

    First, you're going to pay a duty for simply having to pay a duty. Think of it as a convenience fee for the privilege of having the customs officer look over your shit.

    Second, the tax is calculated however-the-fuck they feel like. For example, a friend went over to the US to buy a television because it was $1500 less for the same model. On the way back, he declared it, and the duty was calculated based on the Canadian sales price. He still paid much less in the long run by shopping in the US, but the duty was hilarious.

    Another example, a friend went over to the US to rent suits for a wedding. He declared on the way back, and the customs officer wanted to charge about $100 per suit in duty. Where did this number come from? It was taxes calculated on the purchase price of the suits. For rented suits. The purchase price. Luckily, one of the groomsmen recognized a passing customs officer and they got off, but this is an example of how customs can do whatever they want when it comes to charging you duty.

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