I got the word... Brokerage Fees.
Lower end shipping will never cover brokerage fees to Canada, ever. And UPS is the worst damn company as they charge you extra for handling it. But you will have to pay Canadian taxes on your purchase, that's inevitable.
Got this from NBR, it concerns laptops but it gives you a good idea.
1) Price and Exchange Rates
As a Canadian reseller of US notebooks the first biggest question we get is “ Why is the price higher in Canada?” The number one reason is the US to Canadian dollar exchange rates. The price isn’t actually higher. Normally the Canadian dollar isn’t worth as much as the US dollar. On top of that any financial institution will also charge anywhere between 2% and 5% more than the base exchange rate. If $1.00 US dollar is worth $1.15 Canadian dollars, then a $1000.00 US dollar laptop will be $1150.00 Canadian Dollars + anywhere between 20$-50$ more depending on your financial institution’s rate. If you are buying directly from the U.S. you should always check what rate your bank or credit card company is charging to know how much you will actually pay. Do not rely on the current market rate as you will always pay more.
2) Shipping and Brokerage Charges
The next biggest mystery seems to be shipping charges and brokerage fees. When you are bringing in a laptop from the US it has to clear Canadian Customs. The shipper usually takes care of this for you but charges you a brokerage fee based on the value of the item. The brokerage fee is neither a tax nor a duty imposed by the government. It is a fee charged by the shipper to clear the package through customs. Most expedited shipping methods will include the brokerage fees.
Here is a list of APPROXIMATE shipping fees, brokerage fees and shipping times to most major centers in Canada for a laptop coming directly from Sager:
UPS Ground – 5 to 7 business days: $45.00-$95.00 shipping + $65.00-$115.00 Brokerage
UPS 3 Day Express (2-4 business days): $145.00-$190.00 Includes Brokerage
UPS Expedited (1-2 Business days): $170.00-$200.00 Includes Brokerage
3) Taxes and Duties
To keep things simple let’s eliminate Duties from the equation. At the time of this post and at least for the 7 years prior to it, there are and have been NO DUTIES on laptops coming into Canada.
Ok now for the taxes. This is the most confusing part that feels more like mysticism than math.
The first thing to look at is where you are buying the laptop from, the US or Canada.
If you buy the laptop from the US:
If it’s a personal purchase you will be charged the provincial sales tax and the Federal sales tax from the shipping company when you receive it. This is because the shipping company already paid the taxes to Customs Canada at the time crossed the border with the package. If it’s a business purchase the same applies, but you will be charged just the Federal Tax.
If you buy the Notebook from a Canadian reseller, they should charge you the appropriate tax upon purchase. This will vary based on your location and the reseller’s location. The rule of thumb however is simple. You always pay the federal sales tax. If your province charges Provincial Sales Tax and the reseller is within the same province (or has an office within your province), then you will have to pay the Provincial Sales Tax. If your province charges Provincial Sales Tax and the reseller is not within your province, then you DO NOT have to pay the Provincial tax.
Here is a chart of the tax rates at the time of this post:
Ontario: Federal Tax only HST 13%
BC: Federal Tax only HST 12%
Quebec: Federal Tax GST 5% Provincial Tax QST 8.5%
Nova Scotia: Federal Tax only HST 15%
New Brunswick: Federal Tax only HST 13%
Newfoundland: Federal Tax only HST 13%
PEI: Federal Tax only HST 13%
Manitoba: Federal Tax GST 5% Provincial Tax PST 7%
Saskatchewan: Federal Tax GST 5% Provincial Tax PST 5%
Alberta: Federal Tax only GST 5%
Nunavut, Yukon, NWT: Federal Tax only GST 5%
That’s it for now! Hope I have clarified some things and if anyone has any more questions simply make a post or PM me and I’ll be glad to help.