Canadian De Minimis

At a Glance

  • The de minimis threshold is the value below which goods can be shipped into the country before duties and taxes are assessed. Canada’s de minimis threshold is $20 CAD. 
  • Canada’s de minimis threshold was originally set in the early 1980s. Today, it is the lowest in the industrialized world and among the lowest globally. By comparison, the US has a $800 USD de minimis threshold that is applied to ecommerce.
  • The cost to implement Canada’s current de minimis threshold dramatically exceeds the revenue actually collected on low value purchases. The CD Howe Institute found that the Canadian Government spends four times more than it actually collects in duty and tax revenue on low-value ecommerce purchases. 
  • The “on person” de minimis threshold for Canadians is up to $800, meaning that Canadians that are able to travel internationally are allowed to return home with up to $800 in purchases before duty and tax is applied.

Issue in Detail

Why This Matters to eBay

Canadian small businesses and consumers use eBay to access the international marketplace. In fact, nearly 100% of Canadian commercial sellers on eBay sell internationally and eBay is a top Canadian ecommerce destination, with buyers and sellers trading more than $1.5 billion annually.

Removing frictions from cross-border ecommerce is a top objective for the eBay public policy team. That’s why we advocate in Canada and around the world for global trade policies that reduce customs complexity, particularly for low-value packages and retail returns.

eBay supports an increase to Canada’s low-value customs “de minimis” threshold for ecommerce to promote seamless access to the global marketplace.

Benefits of Increasing Canada’s De Minimis for Canadian Businesses

  • The CD Howe Institute found that an increase in the de minimis level from $20 to $80 would benefit Canadian businesses by more than $100 million in reduced red tape and other costs. A higher de minimis threshold would allow small Canadian businesses to more freely accept returned items globally, thereby reducing overall costs and breaking down trade barriers. 
  • Increasing Canada’s de minimis threshold for ecommerce would give Canadian businesses better access the low-value international supply chain, making them more competitive internationally.

Benefits of Increasing Canada’s De Minimis for Canadian Consumers

  • Canada’s current de minimis threshold prevents Canadian consumers from participating in international ecommerce like peers in the US, Australia and Europe. Increasing Canada's low de minimis threshold would improve choice for Canadian consumers.
  • Increasing Canada’s low de minimis threshold would benefit rural and northern Canadians, who are underserved by traditional retail, and Canadians with physical limitations, who rely on ecommerce to obtain the goods they need, by giving them fairer access to inventory.

The responsibility lies with policymakers to reduce trade barriers and simplify customs processes to allow buyers and sellers to access fairly priced goods and compete globally. Now is the time to urge the Canadian Government to update Canada’s de minimis threshold.

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Canadian De Minimis in the News