All international mail coming into Canada is subject to review by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA determines whether the goods may enter Canada and if any duty and/or taxes apply.
Duty is a tariff payable on an item imported to Canada. Rates of duty are established by the Department of Finance Canada and can vary significantly from one trade agreement to another.
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).
The amount of duty or taxes you may owe on an item also depends upon the following:
- the item's value in Canadian dollars;
- whether or not the item is a gift; and
- any exemptions specified in related legislation.
Value in Canadian dollars
Under the provisions of the Postal Imports Remission Order, if someone mails you an item worth CAN$20 or less, there is no duty or tax payable. If the item is worth more than CAN$20, you must pay the applicable duty, the GST or HST, and any PST on the item's full value. For more information, refer to Memorandum D8-2-2, Postal Imports Remission Order.
Items that do not qualify for the CAN$20 exemption include the following:
- alcoholic beverages; and
- goods ordered through a Canadian post office box or a Canadian intermediary.
For an item to qualify as a "gift", a friend or relative must send it to you personally and include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift.
- If you receive an imported gift by mail that is worth CAN$60 or less, you will not have to pay duty and/or tax on it.
- If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, you will have to pay any applicable duty and/or taxes on any amount over CAN$60.
- For example, if a relative sends you a gift worth CAN$200, you must pay any applicable duty, GST or HST and/or PST on CAN$140.
Items that do not qualify for the CAN$60 gift exemption include the following:
- alcoholic beverages;
- advertising material; and
- items sent by a business.
As well, the CAN$60 gift exemption cannot be combined with the CAN$20 exemption that is available on most items valued at CAN$20 or less.
Mailing goods home while abroad
While travelling abroad, you may wish to send some goods back to Canada. On arriving back in Canada, you must declare these goods on Form E24, Personal Exemption Customs Declaration.
You must keep a copy of the form to claim the goods. Otherwise, you may have to pay duty and/or taxes on them. Goods mailed home are subject to the traveller personal exemption limits.
You should also hold onto sales receipts and related documents in case a review is required.
Immigrants to Canada
If you are immigrating to Canada, you do not pay duty and/or taxes on the personal possessions you bring with you.
However, when these goods arrive in Canada by mail, the CBSA may mistakenly assess duty and/or taxes on them. If this happens, you can dispute the duty and/or taxes assessed.
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