When buying products online with international shipping and getting hit by unexpected border control taxes (in Canada), does this constitute a breach of contract for the sale?

For example, you purchase an item worth 100$ + 20$ shipping. You agree to the price, the shipper agrees to your payment and ships the product. When you receive said product you need to pay an additional 20$ worth of taxes that you never agreed to. The e-commerce website has no mention of extra border taxes being at our charge in their terms of use/agreement.

What's the situation here? Can I consider this a breach of contract. And if I can what can I do? Can I accept to pay taxes and ask them to pay them back? Or is my only option to just never pay and ask for a full refund?

Thanks in advance.

  • A general rule is that the purchaser always assumes the responsibility for duties, and also making sure that the goods are legal to bring into the company.
    – user6726
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 19:30
  • Did you ever look at it from the shipper's point of view? They got an order for some items, they got the money, they sent the items. Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 1:01
  • @user6726 fair enough but we should at least be forewarned that the items we are purchasing are imports no?
    – D.Mill
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 23:53
  • @immibis : you're missing the entire part where they do all the legal paperwork and research in order to be a viable and legal entity making business with whichever countries they're selling in. When the other end is a simple consumer who isn't even given the knowledge that the goods are being imported.... dunno doesn't sound right.
    – D.Mill
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 23:53
  • 1
    @D.Mill, you're overestimating the legal requirements for selling to Canadians. Canadians are free to purchase from the US, UK, Tanzania, Cuba or wherever. Only a store physically in Canada is "doing business in Canada", so there is no legal research and paperwork, except that required in (for) the country of sale. If you knew there was "international shipping", then you had to know that the item is an "import". I think the existence of import restrictions and duties falls in the realm that people are expected to know might exist. You could suggest to the seller that they give a warning.
    – user6726
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


If these were import taxes imposed by your country then you are probably out of luck. If you are importing something then the taxes are your responsibility, not the sender's.

  • Thanks for the information. What if I was not aware of the item being imported. Again the documentation provided never stated where the items were sent from. The most information I managed to get was that it was a DHL delivery.
    – D.Mill
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 17:56
  • @D.Mill That would probably be different, but I'm now out of my depth. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 18:55

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