Mac Musings

Buying From Canada

Daniel Knight - 2001.01.19 -

There's a small but dedicated band of Mac users in Canada. They waited a long time for their own Apple Store, have few mail order options, and sometimes find it advantageous to buy items from the States. This article summarises recent discussions on the Mac Canada email list about buying from the U.S.

Be sure to check current exchange rates, shipping charges, and brokerage fees - you may find it's actually cheaper to buy from a Canadian dealer.


Plan on getting dinged with GST no matter how your purchase is shipped to you. You are liable for GST; in provinces with the Harmonized Sales Tax, you are liable for HST. In other provinces you may be liable.


Unless you like parting with your money (right - you're buying from the States to save some of your hard-earned loonies), "never ever use UPS to ship things over the 49th parallel" unless you want to pay their CDN$35 brokerage fee. One list member noted that this doesn't apply to UPS air shipments.

Far better to have it sent via US Postal Service and Canada Post, which results in a far lower $5 handling fee.


I prefer to order online, which lets me print out a copy of the order along with estimated (or actual) shipping charges, etc. If you prefer to order using Bell's grand invention (Canucks know Alexander Graham Bell lived in Brantford, Ontario, before he created the telephone in Boston), you may find the U.S. 800 number doesn't work.

Your best bet is to pay with a credit card. There may be a small surcharge (or, more technically, you may lose out on the "cash discount"), but it takes much longer for cheques to clear in the U.S., especially international ones.

The Bargains

In a long posting, one list member notes that CD-R is cheaper in Canada - even with the media surcharge.

Used equipment tends to be less expensive in the States, and there's also a better selection of Mac software at a discount. Memory tends to be cheaper from the States, too.

One thing to keep in mind: the warranty may not apply across the border. Always check before buying.

Another good tip: If you are buying Software, try to get a download option, and back up your own install disc. Rather than pay for a CD (which will be charged tax on the full retail price) see if you can get just the hard copy manual (a separate invoice) for less.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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