Notice - Surtax
Starting July 1, 2018, certain goods originating from the U.S. are subject to a surtax that will apply to commercial shipments as well as goods being imported by travellers above their personal exemptions. The list of goods is available on the Department of Finance website. For more information, please refer to Customs Notice 18-08, Memorandum D16-1-1 and Frequently Asked Questions.
The information in this guide provides an overview of the laws, restrictions, entitlements and obligations that apply to Canadian residents returning to Canada following international travel of less than one year.
The information applies to personal goods only. Residents who are importing goods for commercial purposes should refer to the Step-by-Step Guide to Importing Commercial Goods into Canada.
For more information, call the Border Information Service (BIS).
Notice - Cannabis
Despite the fact that cannabis (marijuana) will become legal and regulated in Canada in the near future, it will remain illegal to take cannabis across Canada’s national borders, whether you are entering or leaving Canada. For more information, consult cannabis (marijuana) legalization.
- Travelling with children
- Protecting yourself from diseases
- Protecting your valuables
- Travelling with CAN$10,000 or more
- Save time at the border
- Personal exemptions
- Are you eligible?
- What are your personal exemptions?
- What conditions apply?
- Do you spend part of the year outside Canada?
- Provincial considerations
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Gifts, prizes and awards
- Modifying an item outside Canada
- Repairs or alterations to your vehicle, vessel, or aircraft
- Emergency repairs
- Making your declaration
- You and the border services officer
- False declarations and the seizure of goods
- If you became ill while travelling
- Paying duty and taxes
- Importing a marine pleasure craft
- Unaccompanied goods
- Restricted and prohibited goods
- Food, plants, animals and related products
- Health products and prescription drugs
- Goods contaminated with soil
- Prohibited consumer products
- Cultural property
- Firearms and weapons
- Explosives, fireworks and ammunition
- Obscene material
- Used or second-hand mattresses
- Other prohibited goods
- Goods subject to import controls
Know before you go
You must carry proper identification for yourself, your children and any dependents travelling with you.
Proper identification includes a Canadian passport, a Canadian birth certificate, a citizenship card or a Certificate of Indian Status. The Government of Canada recommends that Canadian citizens and dual citizens travel internationally with a valid Canadian passport. This is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel.
In the case of international air travel, the following documents are proof of Canadian citizenship: a valid Canadian passport, a Canadian temporary passport or a Canadian emergency travel document.
International transportation companies—such as air, rail or bus lines—may require travellers to present a passport and/or a Canadian Permanent Resident Card. You may face delays or may be prevented from boarding if you do not present one of these documents.
Travelling with children
In Canada, persons under the age of 18 or 19 are considered minors (or children). The age of a minor is determined by the province or territory of residence. When travelling abroad, minors should carry a Canadian passport. In the air mode, they must carry a Canadian passport. It is also strongly recommended that the following documents be available:
- Consent letter confirming that the child has permission to travel abroad (for example, when taking a trip alone or with only one parent);
- Supporting additional identification, such as a passport, birth certificate or citizenship card; and
- Other legal documents, such as divorce papers, custody court orders or a death certificate (if one parent is deceased).
Minors travelling alone or with an adult will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the port of entry.
For more information, consult Travelling with Children.
Protecting yourself from diseases
Before you leave Canada, you should contact a travel health clinic to find out what vaccinations and medications you might need. For more information, consult Travel Health.
Protecting your valuables
You should take advantage of a free identification service for valuables you are bringing with you on your travels. This service is available at all CBSA offices across Canada and helps ensure that you have proof that your goods were in your possession prior to leaving Canada.
To use this service, before leaving Canada, you must present your valuables to a border services officer. You must state that you acquired them in Canada or lawfully imported them at an earlier date. The officer will list your valuables and their serial numbers on a wallet-sized card called a Form BSF407, Identification of Articles for Temporary Exportation. This service is available for items that have serial numbers or other unique markings. For items that do not have such markings, the CBSA can apply a sticker to them so that they can be identified for customs purposes as goods that are legally permitted in Canada.
There is no expiry date on the form; therefore it remains valid as long as the information is current and legible.
When returning to Canada, show your card to the border services officer as proof, if requested.
It is recommended that you travel with as little jewellery as possible. As jewellery often has significant value and can be difficult to identify, it cannot be listed on a Form BSF407 in the same way as other valuables. You should take the following steps before you leave Canada to make it easier for you to re-enter the country with these items:
- Obtain an appraisal report along with a signed and dated photograph of each piece of jewellery from a recognized Canadian gemologist, jeweller or your insurance agent;
- Obtain written certification that the items or jewellery in the photographs are the ones described in the appraisal report;
- Take the jewellery appraisal reports, certification statements and photographs to a CBSA office to be validated prior to travelling outside of Canada;
- If the jewellery was purchased in Canada, retain the sales receipt;
- If you imported the goods previously, make sure you have a copy of your importation receipt (BSF175 Casual Goods Accounting Document); and
- Carry the appraisal reports, the certifications and photographs when travelling outside Canada.
Travelling with CAN$10,000 or more
There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can bring into or take out of Canada, nor is it illegal to do so.
However, any time you cross the border, you must declare any currency or monetary instruments you have in your possession that are valued at CAN$10,000 or more. The CAN$10,000 can be any combination of Canadian or foreign currency and monetary instruments, such as stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques and traveller's cheques. This requirement applies to you whether you are travelling on business, pleasure or if you are carrying money on behalf of someone else.
When you arrive in Canada with currency or monetary instruments valued at CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, you must report it on Form E311, the CBSA Declaration Card (if one was provided to you), on an Automated Border Clearance kiosk or a Primary Inspection Kiosk, or in the verbal declaration made to a border services officer.
When leaving Canada by air with currency or monetary instruments valued at CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, you must report to the CBSA office within the airport before clearing security. Prior to leaving Canada by land, boat or rail, report to the CBSA office nearest your location.
If you are a NEXUS member and are crossing the border with currency or monetary instruments valued at CAN$10,000 or more, you cannot use NEXUS in the land, air or marine modes of transportation. For more information: NEXUS Terms and Conditions.
Consult Travelling with CAN$10,000 or more.
Save time at the border
The CBSA offers voluntary Trusted Traveller programs to streamline border clearance for pre-approved, low-risk Canadian and U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As a member, you can use the following Trusted Traveller programs when entering Canada at major airports, highways and waterways:
The NEXUS program is jointly run by the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and offers benefits to trusted travellers who are crossing the border into Canada and the U.S.
To become a NEXUS member, you must: complete the application process (either online or by paper); satisfy the admissibility and eligibility criteria; pass risk assessments carried out by both the CBSA and U.S. CBP; and attend an interview at a NEXUS Enrolment Centre. Visit the NEXUS Application web page for more information.
The CANPASS suite of programs
The CANPASS suite of programs offers benefits to trusted travellers (Canadian citizens or permanent residents only) who are crossing the border into Canada. These programs include:
- CANPASS Corporate Aircraft
- CANPASS Private Aircraft
To become a member of one or more CANPASS programs, you must: complete the registration process (with a paper application); satisfy the admissibility and eligibility criteria; and pass risk assessments carried out by the CBSA. When applying to join CANPASS Air, you must also visit an enrolment centre to finalize your enrolment. Visit the CANPASS site for more information.
You may qualify for a personal exemption when returning to Canada. This allows you to bring goods up to a certain value into the country without paying regular duty and taxes.
Are you eligible?
You are eligible for a personal exemption if you are one of the following:
- a Canadian resident returning from a trip outside Canada;
- a former resident of Canada returning to live in this country; or
- a temporary resident of Canada returning from a trip outside Canada.
Children are also entitled to a personal exemption as long as the goods are for the child's use. Parents or guardians can make a declaration to the CBSA on behalf of the child.
What are your personal exemptions?
The length of your absence from Canada determines your eligibility for an exemption and the amount of goods you can bring back, without paying any duty and taxes. (The exception is a special excise duty that may apply to certain tobacco products. Refer to Tobacco Products section.)
- Personal exemptions do not apply to same-day cross-border shoppers.
- You can claim goods worth up to CAN$200.
- Tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are not included in this exemption.
- If the value of the goods you are bringing back exceeds CAN$200, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead, duty and taxes are applicable on the entire amount of the imported goods.
- Goods must be in your possession and reported at time of entry to Canada.
- A minimum absence of 24 hours from Canada is required. For example, if you left at 19:00 on Friday the 15th, you may return no earlier than 19:00 on Saturday the 16th to claim the exemption.
- You can claim goods worth up to CAN$800.
- You may include alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, within the prescribed limits. Refer to sections Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Beverages.
- Goods must be in your possession and reported at time of entry to Canada.
- If the value of the goods you are bringing back exceeds CAN$800, duties and taxes are applicable only on amount of the imported goods that exceeds CAN$800.
- A minimum absence of 48 hours from Canada is required. For example, if you left at 19:00 on Friday the 15th, you may return no earlier than 19:00 on Sunday the 17th to claim the exemption.
- You can claim goods worth up to CAN$800.
- You must have tobacco products and alcoholic beverages in your possession when you enter Canada, but other goods may follow you by other means (such as courier or by post). However, all of the goods you are bringing back must be reported to the CBSA when you arrive. See Unaccompanied Goods section.
- A minimum absence of seven days is required. When calculating the number of days you have been absent, exclude the day you left Canada but include the day you returned. For example, we consider you to have been absent seven days if you left Canada on Friday the 7th and return no earlier than Friday the 14th to claim the exemption.
What conditions apply?
- You cannot combine your personal exemptions with another person's or transfer them to someone else.
- You cannot combine your personal exemptions. For example, if you are absent from Canada for 9 days total, you cannot combine your 48-hour exemption (CAN$800) with your 7-day exemption (CAN$800) for a total exemption of CAN$1,600.
- In general, the goods you include in your personal exemption must be for your personal or household use. Such goods include souvenirs that you purchased, gifts that you received from friends or relatives living outside Canada or prizes that you won.
- Goods you bring in for commercial use or for another person do not qualify for the exemption and are subject to applicable duties and taxes. In all cases, goods you include in your 24-hour exemption (CAN$200) or 48-hour exemption (CAN$800) must be with you upon your arrival in Canada.
- Except for tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, goods you claim in your 7-day exemption (CAN$800) may be shipped to your home by mail, courier or other means of transportation.
- You must always report the value of the goods you are importing in Canadian funds. Foreign currency amounts including any foreign taxes must be converted to Canadian dollars at the applicable exchange rate recognized by the CBSA.
Do you spend part of the year outside Canada?
If you spend six months or less in another country for health reasons or pleasure, the CBSA still considers you a resident of Canada and you are entitled to the same exemptions as other Canadian residents. When you import foreign goods or vehicles for your personal use into Canada (even temporarily), you must meet all import requirements and pay all applicable duty and taxes.
Except for restricted items, you can bring any amount of goods back to Canada. If you qualify for a personal exemption, you will be required to pay the duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial levies that apply on the amount that exceeds your personal exemption. If you do not qualify for a personal exemption, you will be required to pay the duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial levies that apply on the entire amount.
Alcoholic beverages are products that exceed 0.5% alcohol by volume. Certain alcoholic and wine products that do not exceed 0.5% by volume are not considered alcoholic beverages.
If you have been away from Canada for 48 hours or more, you are allowed to import one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes:
|Wine||Up to1.5 litres of wine||Up to 53 fluid ounces||Two 750 ml bottles of wine|
|Alcoholic beverages||Up to 1.14 litres||Up to 40 fluid ounces||One large standard bottle of liquor|
|Beer or ale||Up to 8.5 litres||Up to 287 fluid ounces||Approximately 24 cans or bottles (355 ml each) of beer or ale.|
You must meet the minimum age of the province or territory where you enter Canada. Minimum ages are established by provincial or territorial authorities: 18 years for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec and 19 years for the remaining provinces and territories.
The CBSA classifies "cooler" products according to the alcoholic beverage they contain. For example, beer coolers are considered to be beer and wine coolers are considered to be wine.
The quantities of alcoholic beverages you can import must be within the limit set by provincial and territorial liquor control authorities that apply where you will enter Canada. If the amount of alcohol you want to import exceeds your personal exemption, you will be required to pay the duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial levies that apply. Contact the appropriate provincial or territorial liquor control authority for more information before you return to Canada.
You can speed up your clearance by having your tobacco products available for inspection when you arrive.
Whether they are stamped or unstamped, if you bring in tobacco products that exceed your personal exemption, you will be required to pay the regular duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial levies that apply on the excess amount.
Note: You must be 18 years of age to bring tobacco products into Canada under your personal exemption.
Stamped Tobacco Products – Personal exemption amounts
If you wish to import cigarettes, manufactured tobacco and tobacco sticks duty free as part of your personal exemption, the packages must be stamped "duty paid Canada droit acquitté". You will find tobacco products sold at duty-free stores marked this way.
If you have been away from Canada for 48 hours or more, you may import all of the following amounts of cigars and stamped tobacco into Canada free of duty and taxes.
|Tobacco||200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco|
|Tobacco sticks||200 tobacco sticks|
Unstamped Tobacco Products – Special duties rate
A special duty rate applies to cigarettes, manufactured tobacco and tobacco sticks that are not stamped "duty paid Canada droit acquitté".
For example, if you claim a carton of 200 cigarettes as part of your personal exemption and it is not stamped "duty paid Canada droit acquitté", you will be assessed at a special duty rate.
Unstamped Tobacco Products – Import limits
In addition to your personal exemption amounts, there are limits on the quantity of tobacco products that may be imported if it is not packaged and not stamped "duty paid Canada droit acquitté". The limit is currently five units of tobacco products. One unit of tobacco products consists of one of the following:
|Tobacco||200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco|
|Tobacco sticks||200 tobacco sticks|
Gifts, prizes and awards
Sending gifts to Canada
While out of the country, you can send gifts to friends in Canada and not pay duty and taxes under the following conditions: each gift must not be worth more than CAN$60 and the gifts cannot be tobacco products, alcoholic beverages or advertising matter.
The recipient must pay the duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial levies that apply for each gift having a value in excess of CAN$60. You should include a card indicating that the item is a gift to avoid any misunderstanding.
Returning with gifts
While gifts you send while outside Canada do not count as part of your personal exemption, those accompanying you when you return to Canada, whether gifts for others or gifts you received, are subject to personal exemption limits.
Prizes and awards
In most cases, you must pay regular duty and taxes on these items if you receive them while outside Canada. Prizes can be claimed as part of your personal exemption. You must pay the duty and taxes as well as any provincial or territorial assessments that apply in excess of your personal exemption.
Modifying an item outside Canada
If you take an item outside Canada and change it in any way to enhance its condition or value, it may be subject to duty and taxes when you bring it back into the country. You must declare the value of any work, including repairs, and you may have to declare the full value of the new item.
Even if the good originated in Canada the CBSA is unable to treat the enhanced item as a good returning to Canada. There are different requirements for work done on items, including repairs, outside of Canada. There may be relief if this work is carried out in Canada's free trade partner countries. If you are considering having any work done to your goods outside of Canada, you should contact the CBSA beforehand.
Example: You take an old diamond ring with you on a trip outside Canada. While on your trip, you decide to have the diamond taken out of the old setting and placed in a new setting. When you return to Canada, the CBSA does not consider the ring to be "returned" jewelry and the ring must be declared accordingly. Depending on where you had the work done, you may be required to pay duty and taxes on the full value of the ring or on only the cost to have the work done.
Repairs or alterations to your vehicle, vessel, or aircraft
If you plan to have repairs, alterations or additions made to your vehicle, vessel or aircraft outside of Canada, you must declare the work when you arrive at the border. In such cases, you should check with the CBSA for information before you leave.
You may have to pay duty and/or taxes on the work done. In some cases, where the work is carried out in certain countries outside North America, you may have to pay duty and/or tax on the entire value of the vehicle, vessel or aircraft when you bring it back.
Refer to the following CBSA documents for more information:
- D8-2-26, Goods Returned After Repair or Alteration in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Israel or Another CIFTA Beneficiary, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Jordan or Panama
- D8-2-25, Canadian Vessels Repaired or Altered in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Israel or Another CIFTA Beneficiary, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Jordan, Panama, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Norway
If you are outside Canada and you have emergency repairs made to your vehicle, vessel or aircraft, the repairs are duty and tax exempt. To be eligible for this special provision, be sure to declare the value of all repairs and replacement parts when you return to Canada with the vehicle and provide any supporting documentation, such as police or insurance reports.
If there is any doubt that the repairs were required as a result of an emergency, you will be required to pay the duty and taxes that apply for a non-emergency repair or alteration. If you are later able to provide proof supporting the emergency repairs and eligibility for duty and tax relief, you may appeal the initial decision.
For more information, refer to D8-2-4, Canadian Goods Abroad Program – Emergency Repairs.
Transport Canada has requirements for vehicles that are extensively modified. For more information, contact Transport Canada's Registrar of Imported Vehicles. (1-888-842-8240)
Returning to Canada
Making your declaration
You must declare all goods you acquired while outside Canada, including purchases, gifts, prizes and awards that you have with you or are being shipped to you. You must declare goods purchased at a Canadian or foreign duty-free shop, and any repairs or alterations you made to your vehicle, vessel or aircraft while you were out of the country.
If you are unsure whether to declare an item, or whether an item may be inadmissible, always declare it to the border services officer. Officers will assist you in making your declaration and will work out your personal exemption and any duty and taxes you owe in the way that benefits you most.
If you return to Canada by commercial aircraft, you will receive a Form E311, CBSA Declaration Card to complete before you land. These cards are also used at some locations for travellers arriving by train, boat or bus. If you have any questions about the card or related Canadian regulations, ask the border services officer when you arrive. If a declaration cannot be completed at primary inspection, you will be directed to secondary inspection for assistance.
Border services officers will assist any individual who is unable to complete the card because of a disability.
If you arrive in Canada in a private vehicle, such as an automobile, an aircraft, a boat or a bus, you will usually make an oral declaration.
If you are declaring goods that you have claimed under your CAN$800 (7-day) personal exemption that are not in your possession but will follow you, ask the border services officer for Form BSF192, Personal Exemption CBSA Declaration when you arrive in Canada. You must retain your copy of this completed form until you have received and accounted for all of the goods. Refer to Unaccompanied goods.
You and the border services officer
Upon arrival in Canada, you may be asked to undergo a more detailed process. This is a normal part of the border process which anyone entering or re-entering Canada may experience. You may be asked to complete other forms, or the border services officer may need to examine the goods you are bringing into Canada and ask questions about them. Border services officers are legally entitled to examine your luggage. You are responsible for opening, unpacking and repacking your luggage.
By making your goods easily accessible for inspection, and having your receipts handy, you will be helping the CBSA complete its inspection more quickly. It is a good idea to keep all your receipts for accommodations and purchases, and for any repairs done to, or parts bought for, your vehicle. The border services officer may ask to examine them as evidence of the length of your stay and of the value of the goods or repairs.
If you have any concerns about your experience at the border, ask to speak with the superintendent on duty. A consultation can often resolve the issue. If you are still not satisfied, our officers can tell you how to make a formal complaint.
Some infractions at the border are criminal offences. Border services officers have the authority to arrest individuals for these offences, including those under the Criminal Code such as impaired driving, outstanding arrest warrants, stolen property and abduction or kidnapping. Individuals who are arrested may be compelled to attend court in Canada. Anyone placed under arrest is protected by, and will be treated in accordance with, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
For more information, refer to Secondary Services and Inspections.
False declarations and the seizure of goods
If you do not declare goods, or if you falsely declare them, the CBSA can seize the goods. You may permanently lose the goods or you may have to pay a penalty to get them back. Depending on the type of goods and the circumstances involved, the CBSA may impose a penalty that ranges from 25% to 70% of the value of the seized goods.
Items such as tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are seized permanently when they are not properly declared.
Border services officers may seize all vehicles used to unlawfully import goods. If this happens, you will be required to pay a penalty before the vehicle is returned to you.
The CBSA keeps a record of infractions. If you have an infraction record, you may undergo a more detailed examination on future trips. You may also become ineligible for the NEXUS and CANPASS programs.
If your goods were seized and you disagree with the action taken, you can an appeal the decision by contacting the CBSA within 90 days of the date of the seizure. More information about the appeal process can be found on your seizure receipt form or at Appeals/Reviews.
If you became ill while travelling
If you are suffering from a communicable disease upon your return to Canada, or if you have been in close contact with someone with a communicable disease, you must inform a border services officer or a quarantine officer. They will determine if you require further assessment. If you have been ill while travelling or become ill after your return to Canada, inform a Canadian doctor that you have been abroad, where you were and what, if any, treatment or medical care you have received (such as medications, blood transfusions, injections, dental care or surgery).
Paying duty and taxes
The payment of duty and taxes
The CBSA collects duty and taxes on imported goods on behalf of the Government of Canada. Duty is a tariff payable on a good imported to Canada. Rates of duty are established by the federal Department of Finance and can vary significantly from one good to another as well as from one free trade agreement to another.
The CBSA has areas at most major airports where you can pay any duty or taxes you owe while waiting for your baggage to arrive. Border services officers are there to assist you.
If you arrive by land, a border services officer will direct you to where you can pay duty and taxes.
Making a full declaration and paying any duty and taxes you owe is a simple, straightforward process. You can pay by cash, travellers cheque, Visa, American Express or MasterCard. The CBSA also accepts debit cards at most offices. If an amount is no more than CAN$2,500, you can pay by personal cheque as long as you meet certain conditions, including that you have not had more than one cheque returned from the Government of Canada due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) over a one year period. Consult "methods of payment" in Memorandum D17-1-5, Registration, Accounting and Payment for Commercial Goods.
A border services officer will give you a receipt showing the calculations and amount you paid.
Beneficial duty rate
After each trip outside Canada of 48 hours or longer, in addition to being eligible for a personal exemption of CAN$800 (48-hour) or CAN$800 (7-day), you are entitled to a beneficial duty rate of 7% for additional goods valued up to CAN$300 over your exemption amount. This rate does not apply to tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. It applies only to goods that accompany you and that do not qualify for duty-free entry under the Customs Tariff. You must still pay any goods and services tax (GST) or harmonized sales tax (HST) that applies. In some provinces, the CBSA also collects the provincial sales tax (PST).
Regular duty rate
If you do not qualify for a personal exemption, or if you exceed your exemption limit and beneficial duty rate amounts, you will have to pay the GST/HST, as well as any duty or other tax or assessment that applies on the excess amount. Duty rates vary according to: the goods you are importing; the country where the goods were made; and the country from which you are importing them. You may also have to pay the PST if you live in a province where the CBSA has an agreement to collect the tax and you return to Canada through that province.
Duty and Taxes Estimator
To assist in calculating the amount owing, the CBSA has created a duty and tax estimator for travellers.
Applicable duty rate and taxes
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), no duty is payable on goods imported for personal use if the good is marked as made in Canada or Mexico, or if there is no marking or labelling indicating that it was made somewhere other than in Canada or Mexico.
Canada's other free trade agreements contain a similar provision. Refer to D11-4-13, Rules of Origin for Casual Goods Under Free Trade Agreements.
Most imported goods are also subject to the federal goods and services tax and provincial sales tax or, in certain provinces and territories, the harmonized sales tax.
Provincial sales tax
The CBSA has agreements with some provinces and territories which allow the CBSA to collect provincial/territorial taxes, levies and fees on goods with a value that exceeds your personal exemption amount. If you reside in one of these provinces or territories and you return to Canada at a port of entry in your province or territory of residence, the goods that you import in excess of your personal exemption will be subject to a provincial or territorial assessment.
Harmonized sales tax
The Government of Canada has agreements with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Ontario to collect the HST. If you live in a participating province and the value of the non-commercial goods you import is more than your personal exemption, you must pay the HST instead of the GST, regardless of where you enter Canada.
Value for duty and foreign sales tax
You must declare the "value for duty" of the goods you are importing. Generally, this is the amount you pay for the goods, including any foreign tax assessment. However, any foreign tax already refunded, or to be refunded by a foreign government, does not have to be included in your value for duty declaration.
Importing a marine pleasure craft
Marine pleasure craft are vessels that are used for non-commercial purposes. These include boats, fishing boats, yachts, dinghies, tenders, motorboats, sailboats and personal watercraft.
All pleasure vessels imported by residents of Canada, regardless of where the vessels are licensed or registered, are subject to all applicable duty and taxes when they are first imported into Canada.
If importing used marine pleasure craft, the owner must ensure that the vessel is not infested or contaminated with Zebra or Quagga mussels as per the import prohibitions in the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations made under the Fisheries Act. The vessel should be cleaned, drained, and dried. Refer to Importing marine pleasure craft.
Often travellers acquire goods outside Canada and have these sent home. These goods arrive after your return to Canada. If you make such arrangements with a courier or postal company, you have 40 days from the date of your return to Canada to claim these goods. The good(s) mailed to Canada must qualify for the 7-day personal exemption. The shipment must not contain alcohol or tobacco products.
Upon arrival, you must tell a border services officer that you have shipped goods to follow and request Form BSF192, Personal Exemption CBSA Declaration. Be sure to retain your copy of Form BSF192 until you have received and accounted for all your goods.
Accepting or refusing courier deliveries
When a courier company delivers the goods, they will ask that you to pay the applicable duty and taxes along with a processing fee. You then have two options:
- You can accept delivery by paying the amount owing and then file a claim with the CBSA for a refund of the duties and taxes. For information on the casual goods refund process, refer to D6-2-6, Refund of Duties and Taxes on Non-commercial Importations; or
- You can refuse to accept the delivery and avoid paying the duty, taxes and the processing fee. If you do this, you must advise the courier company at time of delivery that you will personally clear your goods with the CBSA. Otherwise, the goods will be returned to the country of export. Once you have personally cleared the goods with the CBSA, using Form Form BSF192, Personal Exemption CBSA Declaration you will be required to present the CBSA clearance documents to the courier in order for your goods to be delivered.
For more general information on importing goods by courier, refer to Importing goods for personal use.
Accepting or refusing postal deliveries
When Canada Post delivers the goods, you have three options:
- You can refuse the mail item and request a reassessment (a review of the amount charged before you pay);
- You can pay the duty and/or taxes and request an adjustment (a review of the amount charged after you pay); or
- If you want to return goods to sender before you pay the duty and/or taxes, advise Canada Post upon delivery.
For more information, please refer to Import by Mail.
You have 60 days from the date you imported goods under your personal exemption to avoid paying additional duty. Contact your nearest CBSA office for advice.
Restricted and prohibited goods
Importing certain goods into Canada is restricted or prohibited. The following are some examples of these goods.
Food, plants, animals and related products
You must declare all food, plants, animal and related products that you import into Canada. Failure to do so can result in your good being confiscated or you may be subject to a fine or prosecution.
Some of these items are prohibited or regulated because they can carry foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. Refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) What Can I Bring Into Canada in Terms Of Food, Plant, Animal and Related Products.
Complete and current import requirements for CFIA-regulated products can be found by consulting CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). AIRS guides the user through a series of questions about the Harmonized System code, origin, destination, end use and miscellaneous qualifiers of the product they wish to import. The import requirements can change on a daily basis due to emerging threats.
Certain species of plants and animals that are endangered or threatened due to commercial exploitation are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES). Their trade is carefully controlled. CITES import requirements do not appear in AIRS. If you have questions about importing a CITES species, visit the CITES website.
Some aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as zebra and quagga mussels and live Asian carp, are prohibited entry to Canada. Refer to Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Aquatic Invasive Species website.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has set additional limits on the quantity and/or dollar value of certain food products you can bring into Canada duty-free or that you can include in your personal exemption. Unless you have an import permit from GAC for quantities over and above the established limits, you will have to pay duty ranging from 150% – 300% of the value of the goods. Refer to Tariff Rate Quotas: Agricultural Products for more information.
In some cases, provinces and territories have legislation prohibiting possession or transport of specific invasive species and species that can carry diseases. Before you bring any plants, products or animals (either alive or dead such as in the case of carcasses, trophies or whole fish) into a province or territory, check with the jurisdiction to ensure you comply with provincial and territorial laws and regulations.
For more information, refer to Food Plant and Animal Inspections.
Health products and prescription drugs
In Canada, health products may be regulated differently than they are in other countries. For example, what is available without a prescription in one country may require a prescription in Canada.
Canada has restrictions on the quantities and types of health products that can be brought in. Refer to Import Requirements for Health Products under the Food and Drugs Act and its Regulations on Health Canada's website.
Goods contaminated with soil
Soil is a major carrier of invasive species as well as plant and animal diseases.
Vehicles, equipment, footwear and other goods arriving at the Canadian border that are contaminated with soil are usually refused entry. These goods may be allowed entry under specific circumstances. Refer to Protecting Canada from Invasive Species
Invasive insects and diseases can exist in firewood; it cannot be imported into Canada without a permit. Buy firewood locally and burn it on site. Refer to Don't Move Firewood.
Prohibited consumer products
The Canada Consumer Products Safety Act prohibits you from importing consumer products that could pose a danger to the public (for example, baby walkers or jequirity beans that are often found in art or bead work).
You should be aware of consumer products that have safety requirements in Canada. Many of these requirements are stricter than requirements of other countries. For more information refer to Bringing Consumer Products into Canada.
Certain antiquities or cultural objects considered to have historical significance to their country of origin cannot be brought into Canada without the appropriate export permits. Consult Import of Cultural Property for more information.
Firearms and weapons
You must declare all weapons and firearms at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada. If not, the goods may be seized and you could face prosecution.
For more detailed information on importing a firearm into Canada, including licensing, registration and permit requirements, consult Import and Export a Firearm or Weapon into Canada.
Explosives, fireworks and ammunition
You must have written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada. There are personal exemptions for some explosive items. For more information about the importation of these items consult Importation, Exportation and Transportation in Transit or contact Natural Resources Canada's Explosives Regulatory Division.
You are prohibited from importing goods such as obscene material, hate propaganda or child pornography, into Canada. Refer to D9-1-1, Policy on the Classification of Obscene Material and D9-1-15, Policy on the Classification of Hate Propaganda, Sedition and Treason.
Used or second-hand mattresses
You cannot import used or second-hand mattresses into Canada without a certificate that verifies the mattresses have been cleaned and fumigated in the country of export. A letter, or any other document that clearly demonstrates that this requirement has been met, is acceptable if it is signed by a person qualified in cleaning and fumigating. Refer to D9-1-7, Used or Second-Hand Mattresses and Materials Therefrom.
Other prohibited goods
For information concerning other prohibited goods, consult Prohibited Importations.
Goods subject to import controls
To monitor the effects of imports on Canadian manufacturers, there are import controls on items such as clothing, handbags and textiles. These controls are outlined in the Export and Imports Permits Act. You may need an import permit, even if you qualify for a personal exemption, depending on the value, quantity or type of goods you intend to import.
For more information about these products, consult Global Affairs Canada's Export and Import Controls.
Vehicle imports fall under several federal departments, including the CBSA, Transport Canada (TC), and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Requirements from all of these departments apply.
What constitutes a vehicle
Under customs legislation, "vehicle" can refer to any kind of pleasure vehicle such as passenger cars, pickup trucks, camper trucks, vans, jeeps, chassis cabs, motorcycles, snowmobiles and motor homes; as long as it is used for non-commercial purposes.
For the purpose of importing, TC defines a vehicle as, "any vehicle that is capable of being driven or drawn on roads by any means other than muscular power exclusively, but does not include any vehicle designed to run exclusively on rails." Trailers such as recreational, boat, camping, horse and stock trailers are considered vehicles as are wood chippers, generators or any other equipment mounted on rims and tires.
Transport Canada requirements
For importing purposes, Transport Canada considers U.S.-leased and financed vehicles as "purchased" and these vehicles must meet TC's import and admissibility requirements.
Import restrictions also apply to most used or second-hand vehicles that are not manufactured in the current year and are imported from a country other than the United States. For further information, refer to Memorandum D9-1-11, Importation of Used or Second-hand Motor Vehicles.
Before importing any vehicle, you should contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV). Created by TC, the RIV administers a national program to ensure that imported vehicles are brought into compliance with Canada's safety standards.
Once a vehicle is released at the border, you must abide by the terms of your TC declaration which may include fulfilling additional requirements established under applicable legislative provisions.
For more information on TC's requirements on the importation of vehicles, including a complete list of vehicle classes, refer to D19-12-1, Importation of Vehicles or contact Transport Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Directorate.
You should also contact the provincial or territorial licensing authority to determine what provincial requirements may apply for importing and licencing a vehicle in that province or territory. Border services officers will verify compliance to provincial and territorial requirements and legislation prior to releasing a vehicle at the border.
Has your vehicle come in contact with soil or manure?
Regardless of place of origin, imported used vehicles, farm equipment and related earth-moving vehicles and equipment must be free from soil, sand, earth, plant residue, manure and related debris. Many exotic plant pest organisms capable of causing economic loss to Canadian agricultural production can be transported in soil and related matter. Refer to D19-1-1, Food, Plants, Animals and Related Products.
Purchased, rented, borrowed or leased vehicles: restrictions on temporary importation
If you buy, lease, rent or borrow a vehicle while outside Canada, CBSA and Transport Canada legislation will allow you to bring it into Canada for your personal use on a temporary basis only under certain specific terms and conditions. For additional information, refer to D2-4-1, Temporary Importation of Conveyances by Residents of Canada and D19-12-1, Importation of Vehicles.
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