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Importing Tires

This question is mainly for any Canadians on the board who might have experience buying tires in the US - because the answer on official websites is never as clearcut as one might want.

  1. If I purchase a tire/wheel package in the US and carry them across the border in my car, do I pay duty in addition to the GST/PST?

  2. If I just buy new tires and have them mounted on my current wheels (leaving the current tires for trash at the tire shop), do I pay any duty or taxes?

I’ll be the first to say I don’t know but suspect you would pay either way. “Did you buy anything in the US sir? Not that I remember, just a couple small souvenirs.” I remember as a kid sitting in the park cooking our hamburger before crossing over. I don’t know if they found it or if we declared it but they wouldn’t let us cross into Canada without disposing of it. I’d hate to have the tires confiscated at the border.

It just seems to me I would want to purchase tires near my home just in case of problems or at least a local business with multiple locations. I got my last set from Discount Tire and they have many locations.

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I would treat the purchase like any other. If you buy the tires/wheels new in the US, expect to pay the US taxes unless you can prove to the seller that you will take them to Canada and they are equipped to waive the tax. i don’t know about Canadian taxes in this case. You may have to pay duty on the tires and wheels if the price is high enough. I’m not sure what the cutoff is. Look it up on line. It’s just like carrying goods purchaed outside Canada when you travel by plane.

Just for something to do I looked at Canadian Tire website. 492 locations, many brands of tires and wheels, seems like the logical place to start.

I’m no expert, but I strongly suspect yes. I bet Canadian law is clear. Maybe if you hide them in a bushel of marijuana…

How much duty would you avoid? How much more does the same tire cost in Canada? I thought Canada had tyres, not tires…

BTW, you pay a disposal fee on auto tires bought in most states.

Only if they catch you: is that likely?

Wasn’t it cold by then? I always eat my hamburgers hot off the grill.

Huh? I’ll try to clarify. Raw hamburger as well as other food items were packed for out trip to a resort cabin in Canada. You can’t bring meat into Canada so went to the park just before the border and cooked it on the grill in the park to eat it rather than just throwing it away. I used to like Canada.

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Your duty free allowance is $800 I believe. Even though Canada and thew US have a free trade agreement, individuals can only get a limited amount duty-free.

Since a wheel and tire combo could easily exceed $800, be prepared to pay import duty, I don’t know the percentage.

In addition, you will pay 5% GST and any provincial sales tax.

With some luck the seller in the US will not charge you the applicable state tax.

Since the Canadian dollar is only worth about 80 cents US, I doubt if you’re ever coming out ahead by buying tires in the US, unless they are very special and not sold North of the border.

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That reminds me of guys that guzzle entire bottles of booze at the airport, rather than surrendering them, when they’re told they can’t take them on the plane

I can’t blame them. I’d rather down the entire contents and be happy on the flight, versus surrendering them, fully well expecting the agents to enjoy them at dinner with their wives that same evening. Paid for it, might as well enjoy it, right?

@ Volvo_v70: That’s definitely part of the calculation. I live in Vancouver, BC, and I’ve bought tires from Discount in Washington before. The money saved by buying in the US is balanced against the risk of not having quick, easy access to the road hazard warranty.

I fully expect to pay any taxes in the US. On many US purchases, Canada makes us pay the federal and provincial sales tax on anything we import (assuming they charge us at all - you quite often get waved through if the value isn’t too high). Even then, it is often cheaper or at least break even. What I’m looking for comments here on is whether others who have brought extra tires across the borders had to pay extra customs duties on top of the taxes. That kills the savings.

Many years ago, a friend of mine bought a jar of extremely expensive preserves in Scotland, and when a US Customs agent found that jar, he informed my friend that it was banned from being brought into The US because it was “fruit”. My friend knew that this was BS, and surmised that the agent just wanted the expensive preserves for himself. So, my friend grabbed the jar and announced that he was going to smash it on the floor and then shout for a supervisor if the agent did not allow him to bring the preserves into The US.

At that point, the customs agent suddenly “remembered” that cooked fruit products–like preserves–were permitted, and my friend was able to leave with his expensive–and totally legal–purchase.

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40 years ago when I was a little kid we were coming home to LA from a 3 week visit in Amsterdam. We were clearing through customs, and it turns out Dad had 2 too many bottles of his favorite Bols Genever. The customs agent told dad he would have to surrender the bottles. I watched Dad very politely and quickly hand them over. Perhaps too quickly, as he accidentally dropped the bottles to the floor on one another, breaking them both.

In the car I asked him if it really was an accident. He said “If I can’t drink the gin neither can he.”


@Docnick you only get the $800 allowance if you’ve been away for a few days. Same day trips get nothing. And if the value of goods is above the allowance, you pay on the full amount. Also, things in the US are frequently cheaper than in Canada because cost of living, etc. is higher here, even after you factor in the exchange rate.

@db4690 I’ve bee sorely tempted to do that before. Bought two bottles of rum at the Istanbul duty free. At the transfer in Amsterdam, they don’t accept the duty free from Istanbul because it’s not an EU seal. If there had just been more time before the plane flew…

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If you have the tires and rims mounted but don’t care to keep thit old ones, you can just drive back home. I doubt that the border police would notice the new hardware on your car and want to tax you for it. I suppose that is a violation, and you need to decide whether you want to do it or not.

Like crossing into Arizona or California agriculture inspection.

FINALLY!!! A topic written for me. As a licensed customs broker with almost thirty years of trade experience, let me straighten a few things out here. Let me start by reiterating that the OP is considering buying tires in the US and bringing them to Canada.

1- The entry exemption limit in Canada is $20 (not $800 like it is here in the US).
2- If you buy brand new goods in the US and take them to Canada you are REQUIRED to declare them
3- CBSA makes the call on whether or not they will “wave you through” or require you to pay duty
4- Tires mounted in the US on a Canadian vehicle are not exempt from the rules above BUT it will be extremely difficult for CBSA to notice that they are brand new (unlike if they are sitting in the back of your vehicle)
5- It is a bad idea in general to mess with entry rules into another country to save a few dollars. I have almost 30 years in the trade business and some of the most expensive scenarios have happened when people cut corners on relatively small transactions and got in big trouble

The reality is that people “game the system” all the time. The bad news is that the people that get caught learn a really hard and expensive lesson.


We usually go away for one or two weeks; I assumed that OP would be in the US long enough to qualify for the $800 exemption.

It’s still not very cost-effective in my opinion, even if they are duty exempt…

“No sir I’ve had these tires a long time. I know they look clean and the car is dirty but it must have been those wet roads we came through.” As Gomer said, Oh what a tangled web we weave . . .

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Did you mean to write $200, not $20?

Some stunts that were pulled by my wife a year or so ago has marked us for extra scrutiny at the border, so there’s not much question of trying to sneak the tires across the border. If I was to buy them in the US, they would be declared.

As it happens, the prices at Costco here in Vancouver were better than I remember from a few years ago, so I ordered tires and rims last night. So much for a day trip to Bellingham.