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Aug 28, 2011 03:06 PM

Mail Order food and USA/Canada border issues

These mail order food sites intrigue me, and many of the most intriguing are in the US. Does anyone have a link (or, if it's simple, which I suspect it isn't, a quick rundown of what is and isn't allowed) that explains what foodstuffs are and are not OK to ship across the border? (US into Canada although vice versa comment is welcome for info purposes)

I am mostly thinking of aged dairy and meats - cheeses, charcuterie etc. My parents live in the middle of nowhere, B.C., and I'd love to send them some fabulous treats as a surprise.

Also welcome: any links to specific mail order delivery sites that ship to Canada from the US (or UK if that exists).

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  1. leads you to a portal where you can enter type of food and origin, and see regulations covering same. I got to it from the Canada Customs site, which may have more info on importing for personal use. It is, as you feared, complicated.

    1. Might US sellers know whether their goods can cross the border, i.e., "Any problems shipping Canada?" Just ask.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kagemusha

        Kagemusha, shall we call you Mr. Occam (he of the Razor) from now on? Excellent point.

      2. Thanks for the link, Buttertart and yes, Kagemusha, most will know if they can ship to Canada. The thing with me is, I have a friend in the US who I ship goods to (from the US to the US) and then he ships them on to me here in Canada. This gets around the fact that many sellers (not just of food) don't ship to Canada just for convenience reasons or what have you, so there are some food items I need to check for myself.

        Thanks, both of you. :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: montrealeater

          He could try mailing them to Canada - declare them on the Customs dec and see what happens. Sometimes the mail, since it's obviously personal, is a little more lenient.

          1. re: montrealeater

            "many sellers (not just of food) don't ship to Canada just for convenience reasons or what have you,"

            If it was anything but food, I'd say this would likely work--I've certainly done it. But with food, there's a good chance Canadian Customs would pull it. The "convenience" you mention may just be that sellers are tired of Customs hassles, pissed-off customers and refunds associated with banned food products. Try it but don't get bummed if the item is seized--regardless of who sends it.

          2. Yeah, the whole reason I asked this question is because I get a LOT of things shipped across the border for me (all private purchases - I'm a shopaholic, not an importer) and the stuff that gets duties/tariffs slapped on it, the stuff that gets sent back/seized etc., seems totally random most of the time. 75% of the time my perfume gets across no problem. 25% of the time customs seize it. That Canada Customs link wikll hopefully be useful when it comes down to the specifics of foods and what is and isn't allowed. Argh stupid border.