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Dale Williams

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Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Dale Williams » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:23 pm

I know Jenise, Howie, and others have some expertise.
I have good friends who are celebrating their 50th birthdays. They own a house in Nova Scotia, and we'll be traveling there in a week.
Ferry from Portland ME to Yarmouth NS.
OK, so it seems personal exemption for a US citizen entering Canada is 1.5 L (2 standard bottles). 4 should be fine (just counting on the 2 '68s I have in cellar) for Betsy and I, but if I decided to carry more (there's a party with another family one night) does paying duty slow things down a lot? I'm more concerned with delay after a 6 hour ferry (following a 5-6 hour drive, and with another 1.5-2 hours to go) than cost.
It's also slightly confusing re fresh meats and veggies- is that problematic? Seems like commercially packaged charucterie is ok but maybe not others?
Any wisdom welcome
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:32 pm

Having watched Canadian customs dismantle another traveler’s suitcase to find some packaged foie gras, I would not risk much of anything.
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Howie Hart » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:44 pm

Hi Dale - Yes, two bottles per person is the limit. I believe there is a 50% duty on each additional bottle. Several years ago, before I was aware of this, I tried to cross at Niagara Falls and take a shorter route to Michigan for MOCOOL. I had about 2 cases of my home made wine and about 8 store-bought wines. I was interrogated for over an hour ("How do we know you're not going to go to Toronto and sell this wine?"). Eventually they let me proceed. Now, when I go to MOCOOL, I take the long way, around Lake Erie, through Cleveland. If Canadian Customs in Yarmouth is anything like crossing the bridges, you will be pulled aside, have to show the items to declare them and pay the duty. If they are not backed up, it may take 15-30 minutes. Regarding fresh produce, nothing is allowed. I'm still trying to figure out why they would confiscate oranges. Regarding meats, no raw poultry, eggs or meat.
Here is a link that should help. https://www.northernontario.travel/sunset-country/new-restrictions-on-what-you-can-bring-into-canada
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Ted Richards » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:18 pm

Note that the "duty" on wine entering Canada is mostly provincial markups (to protect their local alcohol monopoly) and is very province-dependent. There is a calculator (approximation only) at http://www.canadiandutycalculator.ca/index.php. I tried a quick test, and for a 750ml bottle of French wine costing $50CDN, the duty was $27.03 entering Ontario, $45.29 entering Québec, $42.38 entering New Brunswick, $11.09 entering Nova Scotia, and only $5.28 entering Alberta. It looks like you picked a good province to travel to.

You are correct that the duty fee allowance is 1.5L of wine per person, but be aware that it is only 1.14L for spirits. I got caught that way bringing back 4 bottles of tequila between my wife and myself, and had to pay duty on the fourth bottle.
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:28 pm

Why worry about bringing in wine? Nova Scotia produces some very nice easy drinking wines Dale..enjoy the experience.
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Mark S » Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:55 pm

I think Dale should practice what his tasting group purports: SOBER. :idea:

Customs and food go together like Mormons and booze. Don't do it. Eat (and drink) local, and be happy to pay for Canada's health network while you do it (yes, taxes are high, but they seem to have gone down compared to earlier) and smile while doing it since you are on vacation!
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Jenise » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:06 pm

Provinces differ in both openness and severity, Dale, and regional issues always apply. Word on the ground is that BC is the strictest and Alberta the loosest, and my experience with both supports that. Also, I had no trouble flying into Toronto with four bottles last June.

The Rules of Border Crossing According to Jenise
#1 Rule: honestly declare everything.
#2 Rule: don't volunteer answers to any question you're not asked; oversharing makes you look 'nervous'.
#3 Rule: If asked the value of your wine(s), answer with the amount you paid, not what the wine fetches at auction.
#4 Rule: Never describe anything in your possession as a 'gift'.

Wine
Strict as BC is I often take three or four bottles adding "I'm going to party" or "I'm going to a meeting with my wine club." If I'm staying overnight I usually add that piece of information. If one of the wines is a 'backup bottle' I usually add "and I'll probably bring one home." I have often been asked about the value of my wine and I answer that as per Rule #3. Most importantly, I have never had them run to Wine Searcher to verify my answer or reject entry based on my answer. I have never been asked to pay duty. I have had the occasional teetotaler who thinks no one should drive a car within 24 hours of drinking a single glass of wine wag a finger at me, but it's rare--and that's been the extent of disapproval about quantity.

Food
If I have food I say, "and I'm bringing a dish to share." I cross over with wine at least once a month, often with food, and have never been asked about the contents of my dish. However, I do follow the rules about what's legal. But I treat every crossing as if this time it might happen (the Americans are MUCH tougher.) I have a Nexus card for express entry and it could be revoked for any small infraction, however innocently committed. Meat's no problem unless a regional issue (cow brain disease, bird flu, pork farmer found to be cutting dead human bodies into his sausage*) makes a certain type of meat a local and temporary problem. Vegetables have never been an issue, but fruit sometimes is. BC doesn't want us to bring stone fruits (competition for the local supply). Fruits like tomatoes and bell peppers that would be an issue if raw and whole become no issue when cut into a salad (presumably, no seeds) or cooked. Not a fruit but ditto potatoes.

*That really happened in BC.

I have noticed no increase or change in attitude towards us since Trump, though I've kinda been expecting it.

So the basics are: if you're reasonable, they're reasonable.

You probably need to be more careful about your return. As I said, the Americans are much more difficult. True story: my husband has the badge-equivalent of white coat syndrome. He gets nervous when there's no reason to be. On our last re-entry to the U.S.from a camping trip in Alberta, we had actually pulled over an hour before to rid ourselves of anything suspect and had declared everything including cat food (which is verboten if it includes lamb or goat, but virtually no cat food does) and six frozen bananas. But Bob, guilty of nothing, overshared anyway and stammered his responses which got us sent to the hoosegow for a search. They inspected EVERYTHING. They found: one lime. A lime that had come from a friend's tree in California and that I'd brought with me from the U.S. No matter, would have gotten rid of it if I'd seen it lurking in the back of the refrigerator drawer, but I didn't. Six bottles of wine? No problem. But we got REAMED for that lime, they called it abuse of our 'Trusted Traveller' status. Then they wanted to know why cats don't like lamb. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Dale Williams

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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Dale Williams » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:52 pm

Thanks for the comments, especially Jenise's thoughtful comments

I might buy some NS wine, but pretty sure not going to be any 1968 vintage available. But since posted I found several sites that confirmed 1.5 L of wine per person, so that's 4 bottles for Betsy & I, and if I decide to I can ask the other car going up to carry some (2 adults).

The food concern is because we are taking a ferry that arrives on Saturday night about 8:30, and then have a 1.5 hour drive to Digby Neck. Everything will be closed, and we're pretty far out. So want at least enough supplies for a couple of meals till we can travel to the big city of DIgby to restock.
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Dale Williams » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:52 pm

Thanks for the comments, especially Jenise's thoughtful comments

I might buy some NS wine, but pretty sure not going to be any 1968 vintage available. But since posted I found several sites that confirmed 1.5 L of wine per person, so that's 4 bottles for Betsy & I, and if I decide to I can ask the other car going up to carry some (2 adults).

The food concern is because we are taking a ferry that arrives on Saturday night about 8:30, and then have a 1.5 hour drive to Digby Neck. Everything will be closed, and we're pretty far out. So want at least enough supplies for a couple of meals till we can travel to the big city of DIgby to restock.
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Re: Taking wine (and food) into Canada

by Jenise » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:26 pm

Ted Richards wrote:Note that the "duty" on wine entering Canada is mostly provincial markups (to protect their local alcohol monopoly) and is very province-dependent. There is a calculator (approximation only) at http://www.canadiandutycalculator.ca/index.php. I tried a quick test, and for a 750ml bottle of French wine costing $50CDN, the duty was $27.03 entering Ontario, $45.29 entering Québec, $42.38 entering New Brunswick, $11.09 entering Nova Scotia, and only $5.28 entering Alberta. It looks like you picked a good province to travel to.

You are correct that the duty fee allowance is 1.5L of wine per person, but be aware that it is only 1.14L for spirits. I got caught that way bringing back 4 bottles of tequila between my wife and myself, and had to pay duty on the fourth bottle.


Good comparison, Ted. An added thought in comparing my experiences with Canadians' at their own borders? They're tougher on you than us. And there's a very evident (and wise) leniency toward tourists.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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