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Residents Returning to Canada

This section applies to Canadian citizens, to permanent residents, and to foreign nationals returning to Canada who are already working or studying here, or who have a temporary resident permit.

Paying duty and taxes

The Canada Border Services Agency 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 Department of Finance Canada and can vary significantly from one trade agreement to another.

No duty is payable on goods imported for personal use, if it is marked as “made in Canada, the USA, or Mexico”, or if there is no marking or labelling indicating that it was made somewhere other than Canada, the USA, or Mexico.

Most imported goods are also subject to the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or, in certain provinces and territories, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

Are you eligible for a personal exemption?

When you return to Canada, you may qualify for a personal exemption. This allows you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying regular duty and taxes, except for a minimum duty that may apply to some tobacco products.

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.
  • A temporary resident of Canada returning from a trip outside Canada.

Even young children and infants are entitled to a personal exemption. As a parent or guardian, you can make a declaration to the CBSA for a child as long as the goods you are declaring are for the child's use.

For more detailed explanations of what constitutes a personal exemption, consult I Declare.

Personal exemption amounts

The length of your absence from Canada determines the amount of goods you can bring back, without paying any duties.

Increased traveller personal exemption limits effective June 1, 2012

Increased traveller personal exemption limits effective June 1, 2012
Less than 24 hours Personal exemptions do not apply to same-day cross-border shoppers.
24 hours or more

up to CAN$200
Alcohol and tobacco cannot be claimed. Goods must be in your possession at time of entry to Canada. If the value of the goods you have purchased abroad exceeds $200 after a 24 hour absence, duty and taxes are applicable on the entire amount of the imported goods.

48 hours or more

up to CAN$800
May include alcohol and tobacco products, within the prescribed limits set by provincial or territorial authorities. Goods must be in your possession at time of entry to Canada. Travellers absent for periods of 48 hours or more will have the applicable exemption level credited against the total value of goods.

7 days or more

up to CAN$800
May include alcohol and tobacco products, within the prescribed limits set by provincial or territorial authorities. For the seven-day exemption, goods may be in your possession at time of entry to Canada but are also permitted to follow entry to Canada (such as via courier, mail or delivery agency), except alcohol and tobacco products, which must be in your possession. All the goods will qualify for duty- and tax-free entry if they are declared at the initial return to Canada.

For more information, consult I Declare.

Canada Border Services Agency
cbsa-asfc.gc.ca (full site)
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