You’d better watch out!

Holiday shopping is easier than ever, especially if you’re inclined to shop by pointing and clicking on one of the many retail websites. But consumers are warned to be aware of some extra costs, that could produce a nasty surprise when you look at your credit card bill in January. Those shopping at U.S. sites should be especially careful.

“Anytime goods cross the border into Canada paperwork has to be filled out and submitted to Canada customs — whether you bring the goods across the border in your car or you purchase them on the Internet,” says Doug Moffatt, executive director of the Canadian Courier Association. “In the case of Internet shopping, different transportation methods mean different costs and consumers need to be aware of these costs if they are going to avoid unhappy surprises.”

The association offers these tips on economical Internet shopping: – Make sure you know what your shipping options are — if you buy from the U.S. or anywhere abroad and the company is shipping by air, the shipping costs are higher, but the costs to process the forms for customs and brokerage fees are usually included.

-Ground transportation is always cheaper, but the extra costfor applicable customs, duties and brokerage fees are added later, and you usually have to pay them when the shipment is delivered.

-To find out the duty on that special gadget for Uncle Bill, call the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Automated Customs Information Service at 1-800-461-9999, or visit their website listed below.

The best advice: buy Canadian if at all possible, and avoid customs and exchange hassles. If you must look south: be informed. Wherever you shop online, make sure you know what all your shipping costs will be before your make your final holiday click!