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Buying alcohol in U.S. or Canada?


mpat

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We will be flying into Seattle and renting a car to drive to Vancouver. Where would be the best place to purchase alcohol (least expensive, but decent selection of wine, rum, etc.) Should we buy it in Washington before we get to the border or in Vancouver? If we buy in the U.S., are there restrictions on how much we can bring into Canada? Does it make it more of a hassle to cross the border if we have alcohol? is it better to wait until we get to Vancouver?

 

We will be staying at the Times Square Suites on Robson. I've read that there is a Safeway and Whole Foods nearby.

 

Thanks for any suggestions/recommendations.

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Short answer - buy in the US, especially liquor, as we get taxed through the nose on 'sin' products and the higher the alcohol content the more evil it is:rolleyes: But - be aware of duty free import limits to Canada!

 

Max out your allowance at Duty Free shop before crossing the border. If you're a very fussy drinker the duty free shop may not have your brands, but if you're happy with a mainstream liquor they should be just fine.

 

If you are picky, get your liquor in Total Wine - the Lynnwood, Bellevue, and Tukwila branches should all be conveniently en route between Seatac and the border. Prices are very competitive, even compared to duty free.

 

NB: 1x 40oz (1.14litres) of liquor per person is your limit on duty free importation. You can exchange a liquor allowance for Wine (1.5 litres) or Beer (a case of regular cans/bottles; 8.4 litres) - you can mix wine & liquor, but then you're restricted to the max liquor volume of 1.14 litres...

 

DON'T EXCEED THE LIMITS - if you pay the extra duty at the border it can easily exceed the retail cost of the product inside BC, where the BC Liquor board sets prices. We took the risk of a few extra bottles of wines & spirits once, declared at the border - sometimes they wave you through, sometimes they don't - and we ended up just abandoning a bottle of liqueur because the duty & taxes alone were higher than the retail cost in LCB, so even if it had been free in Seattle we'd have lost money! The wine we paid the duty on as it was still $5 a bottle less than the LCB price - it's hit or miss whether you save a little or lose a lot... and regardless, you have to park, bring your booze inside the border post, queue up for potentially a long time to find out the cost. Unless you're bringing in cases of high end wine (the extra fees cap out at under $25 per bottle) it's usually not worth the hassle of going over your duty free allowance.

 

Assuming you want more than the afore-mentioned volumes of booze, then you'll need to buy some locally - any BC Liquor store charges the same price for all regular items. Private liquor stores always charge more, but carry items not available in BCL. There are several in downtown; nearest to Times Sq Suites is 1716 Robson, just a block away.

 

There have been a few threads on here and the Canada board recommending particular local wines, so Search away!

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Martincath has stated the border restrictions and I will try to answer your liquor questions as I spent a number of years selling liquor in Vancouver.

 

Where would be the best place to purchase alcohol (least expensive, but decent selection of wine, rum, etc.) Should we buy it in Washington before we get to the border or in Vancouver?

Definitley buy in Washington state as duty & taxes are 102%. Total Wine would be my first choice but they are off the I5 route that you will be taking unless you go to Tukwila as it'll only be 5 minutes out of your way from the airport to I5. My second choice would be one of the many Costcos along I5 to Vancouver. Marysville, Burlington, or Bellingham. You may want to have a pitstop at Burlington to break up the drive.

 

If we buy in the U.S., are there restrictions on how much we can bring into Canada? Does it make it more of a hassle to cross the border if we have alcohol? is it better to wait until we get to Vancouver?

1 ltr hard liqour or 1.5 ltr wine (2 bottles) per adult person. Too much hassle for beer. Buy your limit, and add some local stuff if you require more.

 

We will be staying at the Times Square Suites on Robson. I've read that there is a Safeway and Whole Foods nearby.

they are within walking distance but there are no liquor sales in Canadian grocery stores. There is a large government liquor store on Bute St & Thurlow 1 block north of Robson.

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Martincath has stated the border restrictions and I will try to answer your liquor questions as I spent a number of years selling liquor in Vancouver.

 

Where would be the best place to purchase alcohol (least expensive, but decent selection of wine, rum, etc.) Should we buy it in Washington before we get to the border or in Vancouver?

Definitley buy in Washington state as duty & taxes are 102%. Total Wine would be my first choice but they are off the I5 route that you will be taking unless you go to Tukwila as it'll only be 5 minutes out of your way from the airport to I5. My second choice would be one of the many Costcos along I5 to Vancouver. Marysville, Burlington, or Bellingham. You may want to have a pitstop at Burlington to break up the drive.

 

If we buy in the U.S., are there restrictions on how much we can bring into Canada? Does it make it more of a hassle to cross the border if we have alcohol? is it better to wait until we get to Vancouver?

1 ltr hard liqour or 1.5 ltr wine (2 bottles) per adult person. Too much hassle for beer. Buy your limit, and add some local stuff if you require more.

 

We will be staying at the Times Square Suites on Robson. I've read that there is a Safeway and Whole Foods nearby.

they are within walking distance but there are no liquor sales in Canadian grocery stores. There is a large government liquor store on Bute St & Thurlow 1 block north of Robson.

 

Thanks for this helpful information, lamb chops! In doing a little research online, I saw that there is Peace Arch Duty Free Shop on Highway 99 at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey. Would that be a good place to buy our liquor and wine? If it matters, we are planning to take the scenic Chuckanut Drive route before getting back on I5

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Thanks for this helpful information, lamb chops! In doing a little research online, I saw that there is Peace Arch Duty Free Shop on Highway 99 at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey. Would that be a good place to buy our liquor and wine? If it matters, we are planning to take the scenic Chuckanut Drive route before getting back on I5

That's on the Canadian side - you can only buy if entering the US. There's duty free on the US side in Blaine - try this link, it should open their website at the right page.

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Thanks for this helpful information, lamb chops! In doing a little research online, I saw that there is Peace Arch Duty Free Shop on Highway 99 at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey. Would that be a good place to buy our liquor and wine? If it matters, we are planning to take the scenic Chuckanut Drive route before getting back on I5

 

The duty free stores have a poor selection of wine. If you drink the "hard stuff" buy it at duty free. If you prefer wine, I suggest some Napa wines (from Total Wine) as they tend to be over 2 times the cost in Vancouver.

 

As a wine lover I would bring 2 Napa wines per person across the border. In Vancouver I would drink some quality VQA wines from the Okanagan Valley. If I need more wine onboard ship, I'd drink the Chateaunuef Du Pape from France for about $30 as that's the same price as on land. French & Italian wines seem to have the least amount of mark-up while the cheaper, common wines from Auz, Chile, the US, are marked up more almost 3 times.

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