Using a package receiving service
Note: there are lots of e-tailers in the US that ship to Canada and have many brands. Due to certain retailer agreements some shops won't ship certain brands to Canada. There is a way around this, it is called using a "package receiver". This involves having your package shipped to the receiver company's US address and either having them forward the package to you or you cross the border and pick it up yourself.
Why should I use a package receiver?
1) You want something small but shipping is high. This happens a lot with the "one deal at a time" places. Say you want some goggles, sunglasses and a hoodie. You can combine shipping on whiskeymilitia, steep and cheap etc. and get the stuff shipped to your receiver. Then you can get the receiver to ship it to you USPS and sometimes avoid the taxes and high shipping costs. Another way to swing this is the fact that 99% of American retailers offer free shipping at some point. So, if you get your stuff shipped to the receiver for free then get the receiver to forward the goods you only have to pay one shipping cost + the receiver fee.
2) You want something big, like a snowboard. In this case I get it shipped to the receiver and then go pick it up myself. Info on doing that below.
3) You want a whole heap of items, or do a "group buy" for friends at the same time and cross the border, pick it up and self clear it.
4) You have to use common sense, add up your gas money, taxes and the shipping and receiving fees so you know if it is really worth it, for me it is for certain things.
How do I bring items back across the border?
1) You need a passport or enhanced driver's license to cross the border. An enhanced license is really easy to get, takes about a week from the appointment to getting it in the mail.
2) BRING ALL RECEIPTS WITH YOU. Don't rely on the retailer packing slips, sometimes they forget.
3) When you get to the receiver's office you will have to pay the package holding fees, these are usually about $4-5/package, some places offer bulk discounts. I always open the packages in case the border dudes want to see inside.
3) Tell the border patrol the truth. When you go through to the US just say you are picking up goods from receiver X and coming right back.
If you stay in the states for a few days you are eligible to a certain amount of goods, or else you may have to pay all duty and taxes. When heading back into Canada just tell the truth again, that you picked up packages from a package receiver and have the receipts ready. They usually ask you what the total value of the items are, so have that tally in mind.
You will have to park, and go inside. Once you show the receipts you pay maybe duty and always taxes (most of the time I have not had to pay any duty, just depends on the person and the receipts really). Then they send you on your way!
What are some package receivers I can use?
There are a LOT of them, just google to see what is close to you. Here are some close in BC.
Pickup only. $5.00 a package. Closest to Vancouver, located in Blaine, Wa.
My favorite, located in Sumas, Wa. They forward packages via USPS up to a certain weight. You must register with them and get a customer number and put that in your addresses.
Locations in Sumas and Oroville (Oroville is nearest to the Okanagan/Kootenays).
They don't forward packages. Just need name and address to use the service.
Located in Oroville. Does not forward packages. Sign up with name/phone number.
Located in Point Roberts, Wa. Pickup only.
Located in Point Roberts, Wa. Pickup only.
Located in Sweet grass, MT, close to Alberta.
Package forwarders - There are a bunch of package forwarders out there that act like a US address, such as myus.com. I have not found these package forwarding only places to be worth it, they charge monthly fees, receiving fees and shipping fees on top.
Online Snowboard Retailers located in USA but Canadian-friendly
Note: Since there are so many retailers this is going to be a work in progress and if you have any experience with US companies let me know so I can add them to the list. I am writing this out like a list now to save space.
Companies that ship USPS. USPS is usually cheaper and you may or may not be charged tax/duty.
Park 2 Peak
- Awesome, they offer USPS first class so super cheap shipping!
- Fantastic source for aftermarket goggle lenses or goggs themselves. They shipped to me super fast and cheap.
Daddies Board Shop
- One of my favourites, they ship all brands quick and great service.
(Formerly Sierra Snowboard).
- Low end. discounted and used goods.
- REALLY cheap shipping. Shipping costs legit. Seems they only sell package deals.
- Shipping brand restrictions. They do offer USPS/Fedex however.
WARNING: The following companies MUST be used with a shipping receiver. They do not ship many brands to Canada and their shipping rates are out to lunch. However they are the biggest companies and I am listing them just because they often have free shipping and huge selections, so it is often worth using a shipping receiver or forwarder. I save big using Package Express.
Steep and Cheap
Department of Goods
Backcountry.com, Backcountryoutlet.com, Dogfunk.com, Steepandcheap.com, Whiskeymilitia.com are owned/operated by Backcountry Corp. However, you can combine carts, and all offer the tariff included shipping. All have shipping brand restrictions.
Please let me know if you know of anything I can add to this list!