Moving or returning to Canada
This information will be helpful if you are:
- entering Canada with the intention of establishing, for the first time, a residence for one year or more (in the Customs Tariff, such a person is referred to as a "settler");
- a former resident, moving back to Canada to resume residence after a continuous absence of one year or more, or after being a resident of another country for a period of one year or more.
- If you are a Canadian resident returning to Canada after an absence of less than one year, refer to I Declare.
- "One year" means one calendar year from your date of departure. For example, if you leave on January 1, 2015, and return on January 1, 2016, you are considered to have been absent for one year.
These are general guidelines only. Refer to the Customs Tariff, the Customs Act and the related regulations to ensure all legal requirements are fulfilled.
For more information, refer to Memorandum D2-2-1, Settlers' Effects - Tariff Item No. 9807.00.00 and Memorandum D2-3-2, Former Residents of Canada – Tariff Item No. 9805.00.00.
Before moving or returning to Canada
Before you leave for Canada, you should prepare two copies of a list of all the goods you intend to bring into Canada as part of your personal effects. The list should indicate the value, make, model and serial number (where applicable) of all the goods.
Divide the list into two sections. In the first section, list the goods you are bringing with you; in the second, list the goods to follow. Goods that arrive later will only qualify for duty- and tax-free importation under your entitlement if they are on your original list.
Items you can import duty- and tax-free
You can include the following personal and household effects in your duty- and tax-free entitlement:
- clothing and linen
- family heirlooms
- private collections of coins, stamps and art
- personal computers
- musical instruments
- hobby tools and other hobby items
- personal vehicles
- pleasure boats and the trailers to carry them (trailers are subject to Transport Canada requirements)
- mobile trailers, no more than 2.6 metres (9 feet) wide, that the owner is capable of moving on his or her own
- utility trailers
- motor homes
- private aircraft
- tool sheds or garages that do not attach to or form part of a dwelling
Note the following specifications for certain circumstances
Describe each item of jewellery you plan to bring into Canada on the list of goods you submit. Since jewellery is difficult to describe accurately, it is best to use the wording from your insurance policy or jeweller's appraisal and to include photographs that have been dated and signed by jeweller or gemologist. This makes it easier to identify the jewellery when you first enter Canada, and later when you return from abroad with the jewellery.
Goods subject to regular duty and taxes
A house or a large trailer you use as a residence and any goods you use or will use commercially are not eligible as personal or household effects. These goods are subject to regular duty and taxes.
Value limitation (CAN$10,000) *only applies to former residents
Any single personal or household item, including an automobile, that is worth more than CAN$10,000 on the date you import it, is subject to applicable duty and taxes on the amount over CAN$10,000. (This applies to items acquired after March 31, 1977.
Additional personal exemption
You are entitled to claim a duty- and tax-free personal exemption of a maximum value of CAN$800 for goods you acquired abroad or while in transit. You do not have to own, possess or use these goods before you return to Canada to resume residence. For further information on this personal exemption, refer to I Declare.
If you got married within three months of coming to Canada or if you plan to marry within three months after arriving in this country, you can bring in your wedding gifts free of duty and taxes. However, you must have owned and possessed the gifts before you arrived in Canada. In this instance, the requirement to have used the goods does not apply.
Refer to the Alcoholic beverages section of I Declare
Refer to the Tobacco products section of I Declare
Currency restrictions *only applies to those establishing a residence in Canada for the first time, i.e. not applicable to former residents.
Some countries limit the amount of money you can take out of the country. Check with your bank, lawyer or financial advisor to see if the country from which you are emigrating has restrictions on exporting currency to Canada. If they do, you may be able to take advantage of a special provision that will allow you to claim free importation of certain goods.
To claim free importation of goods, you must satisfy the CBSA at the time of importation that the country from which you emigrated does apply currency restrictions and that, due to such restrictions, your currency could not be exported at the time of emigration.
If you are moving to Canada from a country that applies currency restrictions, you may have up to three years to import goods purchased with blocked funds in your former country. For such goods, the ownership, possession and use requirements would not apply.
For more information, refer to Memorandum D2-2-2, Settlers' Effects Acquired With Blocked Currencies.
Ownership, possession and use requirements
To import goods duty- and tax-free, those entering Canada with the intention of establishing for the first time a residence of one year or more, must have owned, possessed and used the goods abroad prior to arriving in Canada.
In the case of former residents, you must have owned, possessed and used the goods abroad for at least six months before returning to resume residence. The six-month stipulation will be waived if you have resided abroad for five years or more.
If you have bills of sale and registration documents, they can help you prove that you meet these requirements. Leased goods are subject to duty and taxes because the CBSA does not consider you to own them.
Note: even if your goods meet the ownership, possession and use requirements, they must still meet requirements of other government departments. For information on other restrictions and requirements for goods being imported into Canada, refer to Restrictions.
Declaring your goods upon arrival in Canada
Even if you have no goods with you on arrival, you must give your list of goods to the border services officer at your first point of entry in Canada. Based on the list of goods you submit, the officer will complete Form BSF186, Personal Effects Accounting Document, assign a file number to it, and give you a copy of the completed form as a receipt. You will need to present your copy of this form to claim free importation of your unaccompanied goods when they arrive. Goods to follow may be subject to import restrictions before you can import them.
To facilitate the clearance process, you can complete Form BSF186 before your arrival in Canada.
Disposing of goods
If you import goods duty- and tax-free or goods that have benefited from a CAN$10,000 reduction in value, and sell or give the goods away within one year after importation, you will have to pay the duty and taxes initially exempted. If you divert the goods for commercial use, the same rule applies.
Importing certain goods into Canada is restricted or prohibited. Here are some examples:
- Currency and Monetary Instruments
- Food, plants, animals and related products
- Health products and prescription drugs
- Goods contaminated with soil
- Prohibited consumer products
- Cultural property
- Firearms and weapons
- Explosives, fireworks and ammunition
- Obscene material
- Used or second-hand mattresses
- Other prohibited goods
- Goods subject to import controls
If you are suffering from a communicable disease upon your arrival/return to Canada, or if you have been in close contact with someone with a communicable disease, you are required to inform a border services officer or quarantine officer, who can determine if you require further assessment. If you have been ill while travelling or become ill after you arrive/return to Canada, consult a Canadian doctor and inform them where you have travelled abroad and what, if any, treatment or medical care you have received (for example medications, blood transfusions, injections, dental care, or surgery).
For more information about moving or returning to Canada, contact the Border Information Service.
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