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Visiting friends or relatives outside Canada? Proper planning can help ensure you have a worry-free cross-border trip. Whether you've been gone for only a few hours, or for several days, returning to Canada means a stop at a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.
Make sure you carry the proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you, including any documents the country you intend to visit requires, such as passports, birth certificates and visas. Proper identification includes birth certificates, passports, citizenship cards, records of landing, permanent resident cards and certificates of Indian status. These will help prove your citizenship, address and identity when you return to Canada.
Our officers watch for missing children and may ask detailed questions about the children who are travelling with you. If you have legal custody of the child(ren) or if you share custody, have copies of relevant legal documents, such as custody rights. If you are not the custodial parent or not the parent or legal guardian of the child(ren), carry a letter of permission or authorization for you to have custody when entering Canada. A letter would also facilitate entry for any one parent travelling with their child(ren). This permission should contain contact telephone numbers for the parent or legal guardian. If you are travelling as part of a group of vehicles, be sure that you are in the same vehicle as your child(ren) when you arrive at the border.
Check our border wait times for the latest waiting time of the border crossing along your route. Border wait times are updated every hour.
When you return to Canada, duties and taxes are applicable on all purchases unless you qualify for a personal exemption. Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying the regular duties. If you have been outside Canada for:
Alcohol and Tobacco - Restrictions apply to the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into Canada under your exemption. If you have been outside Canada for at least 48 hours and are of legal age, you can bring in these amounts of alcohol and tobacco products free of duty and tax as part of your personal exemption:
Tobacco products (all of the following):
If you bring in more than the free allowance of alcohol or tobacco, you will be required to pay the applicable duties and taxes.
As of October 1, 2001, if you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks, or loose tobacco in your personal exemption allowance, only a partial exemption will apply. You will have to pay a minimum duty on these products unless they are marked "CANADA - DUTY PAID - DROIT ACQUITTÉ." You will find Canadian-made products sold at a duty-free shop marked this way. You can speed up your clearance by having your tobacco products available for inspection when you arrive.
Except for restricted items, you can bring back any amount of goods as long as you are willing to pay the duties and any provincial and territorial assessments that may apply.
Handguns and weapons like mace and pepper spray are prohibited from entering Canada. Also, some fruits, vegetables, meats and plants from other countries cannot be brought into Canada. Review our travellers' frequently asked questions for more information.
If you don't qualify for a personal exemption, you can still bring back any amount of goods - except for restricted items - as long as you are willing to pay the duties and any provincial and territorial assessments that may apply.
CBSA officers may ask you to show receipts for the goods you've purchased while out of the country. They may also ask to see your hotel receipts to verify the length of your stay outside Canada. Keeping these items all together and readily accessible will help to avoid unnecessary delays.
If you are not sure what to declare when you arrive in Canada, declare all items first and then discuss them with the officer.
Summer holidays and long weekends usually mean longer lines at the border. Be sure to add this time to your travel itinerary.
A little bit of planning can save you a lot of time and money. Here's where you can get more information on cross-border travelling: