Customs rules eased for cross-border consumers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. and Canada have agreed to increase the maximum value of goods eligible for expedited customs clearance.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency announced the news this week, letting travelers entering the U.S. carrying goods valued at up to $2,500 (U.S.) take advantage of expedited customs clearance. Those entering Canada with goods valued at no more than $2,500 (Canadian) may also use expedited clearance. In the past, the maximum levels were set at $2,000 (U.S.) and $1,600 (Canadian).

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh who represents the 21st Congressional District, applauded the new rules.

“This is another step towards simplifying the process for conducting business across the border,” Owens said in a press release. “With 13 border crossings in district, this is incredibly important to New York. It means increased commerce between the United States and Canada and greater opportunity for communities along the border to grow and create jobs.”

The announcement follows a recent Canadian effort to increase duty-free purchase allowances for Canadians shopping in the U.S. Starting last June, Canadian shoppers were able to return from New York with $200 (Canadian) in goods per person duty free – up from $50 – in a 24-hour period. For a 48-hour visit, Canadian shoppers could return with $800 per person in goods, up from $400.

“This effort builds on the ‘Beyond the Border’ agreement, which is already working to expedite border crossings and increase the flow of goods,” Owens said. “I applaud the good work that is being done at the Northern Border, and look forward to building on this activity in the future.”

Owens previously served as co-chairman of the House Northern Border Caucus. He said he will reorganize the caucus and serve as co-chairman again this year.