Border-crossing fees could keep Canadians from shopping in United States

April 23, 2013 Author by Jennifer Collins
Categories : 
Merchant Services


Border-crossing fees could keep Canadians from shopping in United States

The migration of shoppers south of the border to the United States has long been one of the more alarming consumer spending trends for Canadian retailers, and many have spent years grasping for answers to no avail. But according to the Surrey North Delta Leader, one solution may be on the horizon - the U.S. government is currently mulling over a potential border-crossing fee that would be assessed to drivers crossing from British Columbia to Washington State, a measure that could financially disincentivize cross-border shopping for thousands of Canadians every month.

Canadians who enter the U.S. are already charged a $5.50 customs fee when crossing the border, a cost that is often built into​ airline and train ticket prices. But for Canadians shopping for major purchases, that's only a financial slap on the wrist, not enough to convince them to stay home. More fiscal measures are needed to keep shoppers domesticated in the future.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently studying the pros and cons of increased border fees. Little is known about the specifics being proposed, such as whether travelers will be taxed moving in both directions, or whether each passenger in a vehicle will be charged individually.

In Canada, this measure would be an economic boon, promoting local commerce and a sense of community among residents of B.C. On the other side of the border, there's dissonance. Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, told the Leader that he was strongly opposed to the fees being proposed.

"This is a non-starter," Oplinger told the newspaper. "We don't want to move down this path at all. If everyone has to stop now to dig around for change in order to cross the border, that's going to increase the time. That's certainly going to make for longer lines."

Enforcing existing fees
One noteworthy problem is that fees already exist at Canada/U.S. border crossings, but in many instances, they're not being enforced. The National Post reported that one some busy occasions when traffic is an issue, such as Black Friday for example, crossing guards have begun simply waving people through without charging fees.

"When we waive collection of those same levies, we further disadvantage retailers in our community who are already struggling as a result of our local economy and the strong Canadian dollar," Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin told the newspaper.

One way or another, Canada needs to do something to kickstart its struggling retail sector. Fees might not be the complete answer, but they certainly won't hurt.


Got a minute?
Get a FREE Rate Quote!

Fill out our no obligation rate request form and we will contact you ASAP!

Call us at 1 (877) 807-9128



Free Rate Quote


Code of Conduct Resolution