Visitors to Canada

Have proper identification

You must carry proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you to help confirm your legal right or authorization to enter Canada when you arrive.

All visitors arriving from or transiting through the United States should visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information concerning the requirements to enter, transit through, or return to the United States.

Identification requirements for U. S. citizens and permanent residents

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must carry proof of citizenship such as a passport, birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, or a Certificate of Indian Status along with photo identification. If you are a U.S. permanent resident, ensure you carry proof of your status such as a U.S. Permanent Resident Card.

For members of a Trusted Traveller program

U.S. citizens

U.S. citizens who are members of the NEXUS program can use their membership card as proof of identification and citizenship when entering Canada by land, air or water. This applies when you are using either conventional or NEXUS-only lanes.  U.S. citizens who are members of FAST may use their membership card when entering Canada by land or water only. When travelling by air, FAST cards will only be accepted as proof of identification when you are travelling to Canada from the U.S.

U.S. permanent residents

NEXUS and FAST members who are permanent residents of the U.S. must still travel with a passport and proof of permanent residence. You may be asked to present these documents to the Border Services Officer (BSO) when you arrive at the border.

No matter your mode of travel, we recommend you carry a valid passport for all travel abroad, including visits to Canada from the United States. A passport may be required by your airline or other transportation authority, since it is the only universally-accepted identification document.

Identification requirements for international visitors

All international travellers must carry acceptable identification and a valid visa (if necessary) when entering Canada. A passport is recommended because it is the only reliable and universally-accepted travel and identification document for the purpose of international travel.

Electronic Travel Authorization

New entry requirement now in effect: visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.

Until September 29, 2016, travellers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport. Find answers to your questions about the leniency period.

Travelling with minors

BSOs watch for missing persons, and may ask detailed questions about any minors travelling with you.

Visit the Children and travel page for more information about travelling abroad with minors.

What you can bring with you

As a visitor, you can bring certain goods into Canada for your own use as personal baggage. Personal baggage includes clothing, camping and sports equipment, cameras and personal computers. This also includes your mode of transportation, including vehicles, private boats and aircraft.

You must declare all goods when you arrive at the first CBSA port of entry. Our BSOs check goods you are bringing in or taking out of Canada to verify what you have declared. If you declare goods when you arrive and take them back with you when you leave, you will not have to pay any duty or taxes. These goods cannot be:

  • used by a resident of Canada;
  • used on behalf of a business based in Canada;
  • given as a gift to a Canadian resident; or
  • disposed of or left behind in Canada.

The BSO may ask you to leave a security deposit for your goods. Your deposit will be refunded when you leave Canada with the goods. If this happens, you will be issued a Temporary Admission Permit. We will keep a copy and give you one for your records. When you leave Canada, bring your goods and your copy of the Temporary Admission Permit, to the BSO. You will get a receipt and your security deposit will be refunded by mail.

Making your Declaration

When arriving in Canada you must, by Canadian law, report to a BSO, answer all questions truthfully, and accurately report your goods. This means you must also report any food, plant and animal products in your possession.

Have all required identification and travel documents in hand. Be ready to make a full and accurate declaration, including the amount of goods in Canadian dollars you are bringing with you. This will help us get you on your way as quickly as possible.

Arriving by air: If you are arriving by air, you will receive a CBSA Declaration Card while you are onboard your flight. You must complete it before arriving in Canada. For a step-by-step guide, consult Arriving by Air or check out our video on YouTube.

Arriving by land: If you are arriving by land, follow the signs to the first checkpoint. A BSO will check your identification and other travel documents and you will answer their questions.

Arriving by private boat: If you are arriving by private boat, go directly to a designated marine telephone reporting site and call the Telephone Reporting Center (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277 to get CBSA clearance. Certain private boaters may now report to the CBSA by calling the TRC from their cellular telephones from the location at which they enter Canadian waters. For more information, visit the Private boaters page.

CBSA Declaration Card

The CBSA Declaration Card tells us what we need to know about you, your travels and what you are bringing into the country. CBSA Declaration Cards are given to passengers arriving by air, and are also used at some locations for travellers arriving by train, boat and bus. Bring a pen in your carry-on baggage to complete the card before you arrive.

Instructions on how to complete the card are attached to the form. You can list up to four people living at the same residence on one card. If there are more than four people living at your address use one additional card for each additional group of four or fewer people. Once the cards are complete you can detach and discard the instructions. Do not fold the card.

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 BSOs several times.

If you have any questions about the card or Canadian regulations, ask the BSO when you arrive.

Referrals for secondary services and inspections

At any point during your interactions with our BSOs 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 any visitor to 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:

  • 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 your plans while visiting Canada, or 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 additional goods you are transporting;
  • examine visually your pet or any animals travelling with you;
  • ask you to produce evidence of the money you have available to fund your visit to Canada;
  • 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.

Travelling with alcohol and tobacco

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are products that exceed 0.5% alcohol by volume. You are allowed to bring into Canada only one of the following amounts of alcohol and alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:

Alcoholic beverage limits
(While bottle sizes vary, the amounts listed are fixed.)
Product Metric Imperial Estimates
Wine Up to 1.5 litres 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 are allowed to import only one of the amounts listed in the table free of duty and taxes, as part of your personal exemption.

You must be of legal age in the province of importation. While you are allowed to import more alcoholic beverages than the amounts listed above, you will be responsible for paying duty and taxes on the additional alcoholic beverages you are bringing into Canada.

For more information on bringing alcoholic beverages to Canada, consult the Alcohol and tobacco limits page.

Tobacco products

As a visitor or a temporary resident, you may bring into Canada, free of duty and taxes, all of the following amounts of tobacco products, as long as these items are in your possession when you arrive in Canada:

Tobacco product limits
Cigarettes 200 cigarettes
Cigars 50 cigars
Tobacco 200 grams of manufactured tobacco
Tobacco sticks 200 tobacco sticks

If you bring in more than your personal exemption, you will have to pay regular assessments on the excess amount. These regular assessments can include duty and taxes, as well as provincial or territorial fees. When they calculate the amounts owing, border services officers will give an allowance for products that have an excise stamp “DUTY PAID CANADA DROIT ACQUITTÉ.

For short visits, these quantities may be limited to amounts that are appropriate in respect of the nature, purpose, and duration of the visit.

For more information on bringing alcoholic beverages to Canada, consult the Alcohol and tobacco limits page.

Restricted/prohibited goods

Certain goods are restricted or prohibited in Canada. To avoid the possibility of penalties, including seizure or prosecution, make sure you have the information you need before attempting to bring 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 must 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 importing a vehicle.
  • Consumer products: 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) are not allowed to be brought into Canada. 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 consult the Restricted and Prohibited Goods page.

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 to the CBSA. Monetary instruments include items such as stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques, and travellers' cheques.

This regulation applies to currency and monetary instruments you have on your person, in your baggage and/or in your vehicle.

When you arrive in Canada with CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, you must report it on the CBSA Declaration Card (if one was provided to you), or in the verbal declaration made to a BSO.

When you leave Canada by air with CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, you must report to the CBSA office within the airport, before clearing security or, if leaving 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, you can consult the Cross Border Currency Reporting page.

Travelling with gifts

If you are travelling with gifts, do not wrap them before crossing the border. If a gift is wrapped, a BSO may need to un-wrap the gift to examine the goods you are bringing into Canada.

Can I enter Canada?

Why some people cannot enter or remain in Canada

There are a number of reasons you can be found inadmissible, denied a visa or refused entry to Canada such as:

  • Security
  • Human or international rights violations
  • Criminality
  • Organized criminality
  • Health grounds
  • Financial reasons
  • Misrepresentation
  • Non-compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
  • Having an inadmissible family member

Visit the Determine your eligibility page for more information.

Overcome criminal convictions

Depending on the crime, how long ago it was committed, and how you have behaved since the conviction, you may still be allowed to come to Canada, if you:

  • convince an immigration officer that you meet the legal terms to be deemed rehabilitated, or
  • applied for rehabilitation and were approved, or
  • were granted a record suspension, or
  • have a temporary resident permit.

Visit the Overcome criminal convictions page for more information.

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