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.
Have proper identification
Make sure you carry proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you to assist in confirming your legal right or authorization to enter Canada upon your return.
Identification for Canada/U.S. travel
Proper identification includes a Canadian passport, a Canadian birth certificate, a Canadian citizenship certificate, a Certificate of Indian Status or a Canadian Permanent Resident Card.
For all modes of entry, we recommend you carry a valid Canadian passport for all visits abroad, including visits to the United States. A passport may be required by your airline or alternative transportation authority, as it is the only universally-accepted identification document, and it proves that you have a right to return to Canada.
Citizens and permanent residents of Canada, who are members of the NEXUS or FAST programs, may present their membership cards to the CBSA as proof of identity and as documents that denote citizenship, when arriving by land or marine modes only.
If you plan to travel to or transit through the United States, we encourage you to visit www.cbp.gov for information concerning the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and the requirements to enter or return to the United States.
Identification for international travel
The Government of Canada recommends that Canadian citizens travel with a valid Canadian passport because it is the only reliable and universally-accepted travel and identification document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel.
International transportation companies such as airlines may require travellers to present a passport. Therefore, Canadian citizens may face delays or may not be allowed to board the aircraft or other mode of transportation, if they present other documents such as those noted in the previous section.
Travelling with minors
Border services officers watch for missing children, and may ask detailed questions about any minors travelling with you.
We recommend that parents who share custody of their children carry copies of their legal custody documents, such as custody rights. If you share custody and the other parent is not travelling with you, or if you are travelling with minors for whom you are not the parent or legal guardian, we recommend you carry a consent letter to provide authorization for you to take them on a trip and enter Canada.
A consent letter must include the custodial parents' or legal guardians' full name, address and telephone number. Some travellers choose to have the consent letter notarized, to further support its authenticity, especially if they are undertaking a significant trip and want to avoid any delay.
When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should arrive at the border in the same vehicle as their children or any minors they are accompanying.
Travel.gc.ca provides information about travelling with children.
Making your declaration
Presenting yourself to the CBSA
All travellers arriving in Canada are obligated by Canadian law to present themselves to a border services officer, respond truthfully to all questions and accurately report their goods. This includes a requirement to report any food, plant and animal products in their possession.
We remind travellers to have the total of all purchases made abroad ready and your receipts readily available. Being prepared to make a full and accurate declaration, including the amount of goods in Canadian dollars you are bringing with you, will help us get you on your way as quickly as possible.
Arriving by air: If arriving by air, you will receive a CBSA Declaration Card while you are on board and you must complete it prior to arrival. Whether you're returning to Canada or visiting, you'll follow the same straightforward process to enter Canada when arriving by air. For a step-by-step guide, consult Arriving by Air.
Arriving by land: If arriving by land, follow the signs to the first check point — referred to as Primary Inspection – where a border services officer will examine your identification and other travel documents, and take your verbal declaration. Select Border Wait Times to access the estimated wait times for crossing the Canada-United States land border at certain locations.
Arriving by private boat: If arriving by private boat, proceed directly to a designated marine telephone reporting site and call the Telephone Reporting Center (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277 in order to obtain CBSA clearance. Certain private boaters may now present themselves to the CBSA by calling the TRC from their cellular telephones from the location at which they enter Canadian waters. For more information, consult our fact sheet.
For more information to help you make your declaration, consult I Declare.
CBSA Declaration Card
The CBSA Declaration Card tells us what we need to know about you, your travels and what you're bringing into the country. CBSA Declaration Cards are distributed to passengers arriving by air, and are also used at some locations for travellers arriving by train, boat or bus. Bringing a pen in your carry-on baggage will help you complete it, as required, prior to arrival.
Instructions on how to complete the card are attached for your assistance. You can list up to four people living at the same residence on one card. Once the card is completed, detach and discard the instructions. Please do not fold the card, as this allows us to serve you more quickly.
Be sure to keep the card handy along with your identification and other travel documents. You will be asked to show this card to our border services officers several times.
If you have any questions about the card or Canadian regulations, please ask the border services officer when you arrive.
Referrals for secondary services and inspections
At any point during your interactions with our border services officer at a port of entry, you may be referred to our secondary services and inspections area.
We understand that travellers may feel anxious when crossing the border. Referrals to secondary inspection are a normal part of the cross-border travel process that anyone entering Canada may experience.
Why you may be referred to secondary inspection
You may be referred to secondary inspection for a variety of reasons, for example the officer may be:
- carrying out a random inspection;
- verifying your declaration or documentation;
- asking you more in-depth questions about yourself or inspecting your goods;
- determining your admissibility to Canada or the admissibility of the goods in your possession;
- having you pay duty and taxes;
- completing or processing paperwork to support your entry or the entry of your goods to Canada.
All travellers are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Referrals are not made on any discriminatory basis, such as race, nationality, religion, age or gender.
What to expect from secondary inspections
If you are referred for secondary services or inspection, an officer may:
- ask you to provide detailed information about the time you spent abroad;
- make further enquiries, check records, or conduct research to verify your declaration;
- confirm the guardianship of children travelling with you;
- process the payment of duty and taxes;
- inspect your luggage, purse or wallet, electronics (including laptops and cell phones), your vehicle and any other goods you are transporting;
- examine visually your pet or any animals travelling with you;
- request that you produce receipts to account for expenses you incurred or purchases made abroad; or
- count your cash or travellers cheques, in your presence.
While most travellers we inspect comply with Canadian laws and regulations, we do encounter individuals who are intent on breaking the law and who attempt to avoid detection. That is why the officer may not always answer specific questions about a secondary inspection.
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).
Duty and Taxes Estimator
The CBSA's Duty and Taxes Estimator provides an estimate only and applies strictly to goods imported for personal use by Canadian citizens and residents returning to Canada. The final amount of applicable duties and taxes may vary from the estimate and will be determined by a border services officer when you arrive at the border.
It is important to note that personal exemptions, tariff classification, applicable rates of duty and taxes and other circumstances that may affect the amount of duties and taxes owed on imported goods are subject to change from time to time, depending on the applicable legislation, regulations and policies.
Where specific products within a category of goods have different rates of duty, the highest rate has been used to produce the estimate.
Use the Duty and Taxes Estimator.
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.
For more information on personal exemptions, consult I Declare.
Travelling with alcohol and tobacco
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|
The importation of certain goods is restricted or prohibited in Canada. To avoid the possibility of penalties, including seizure or prosecution, make sure you have the information you require before attempting to import items into Canada.
The following are some examples of restricted or prohibited goods:
Firearms and weapons: You must declare all weapons and firearms at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada.
Food, plants, animals and related products: All food, plants, animals, and related products must be declared. Food can carry disease, such as E. coli. Plants and plant products can carry invasive alien species, such as the Asian Long-Horned Beetle. Animals and animal products can carry diseases, such as avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease.
Explosives, fireworks and ammunition: You are required to have written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada.
Vehicles: Vehicles include any kind of pleasure vehicles such as passenger cars, pickup trucks, snowmobiles and motor homes, as long as you use them for non-commercial purposes. There are many requirements that apply to the importation of vehicles.
Consumer products: The importation of certain consumer products that could pose a danger to the public (e.g., baby walkers, jequirity beans that are often found in art or bead work) is prohibited. Canadian residents should be aware of consumer products that have safety requirements in Canada. Many of these safety requirements are stricter than requirements of other countries.
For more information on restricted/prohibited goods, consult I Declare or our publications specific to Import and Export a Firearm or Weapon into Canada and Memorandum D19-12-1 - Importation of Vehicles.
Travelling with CAN$10,000 or more
If you have currency or monetary instruments equal to or greater than CAN$10,000 (or the equivalent in a foreign currency) in your possession when arriving in or departing from Canada, you must report this to the CBSA. Monetary instruments include items such as stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques, and travellers' cheques.
We remind all travellers that this regulation applies to currency and monetary instruments you have on your person, in your baggage and in your vehicle.
Upon your arrival in Canada with CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, it must be reported on the CBSA Declaration Card (if one was provided to you), or in the verbal declaration made to a border services officer.
When departing Canada by air with CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, you must report to the CBSA office within the airport, prior to clearing security or, if departing by land or boat, report your intent to export to the CBSA at one of our offices.
For more information, including instructions on how to report your intent to import or export currency in person, by mail, or by courier, consult Travelling with CAN$10,000 or more
Travelling with gifts
While you are outside Canada, you can send gifts free of duty and taxes to friends in Canada under certain conditions. To qualify, each gift must not be worth more than CAN$60 and cannot be a tobacco product, an alcoholic beverage or advertising matter. If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, the recipient will have to pay regular duty and taxes on the excess amount. It is always a good idea to include a greeting card to avoid any misunderstanding.
While gifts you send from outside Canada do not count as part of your personal exemption, gifts you bring back in your personal baggage do.
If you are travelling with gifts, do not wrap them prior to crossing the border. If you do, we remind you that a border services officer may need to unwrap the gift to conduct an examination of the goods you are bringing into Canada.
Protecting your valuables
If your laptop computer was made in Japan—for instance—you might have to pay duty and taxes on it each time you bring it back into Canada, unless you can prove that you owned it before you left on your trip. Documents that fully describe the item—such as sales receipts, insurance policies, or jeweller's appraisals—are acceptable forms of proof.
To make things easier, we provide a free identification service that lists items that have serial numbers or other unique markings, making them identifiable for customs purposes as goods you possessed before leaving Canada. All items listed will be allowed duty-free entry upon your return.
Please note that this service does not apply to jewellery; because jewellery often has significant value, we recommend you travel with as little as possible. We also recommend you carry valuable items with you.
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