Customs regulations for your trip to Canada

Last modified: July 26, 2023
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Customs Regulations

Local laws and customs

Don’t attempt to bring meat, animal or dairy products into Canada at any time without declaring them to the customs authorities. Banned food products will be confiscated and you could be fined. For more information see the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

You must declare any visit to a farm within 14 days of arrival.

As of 17 October 2018, recreational cannabis is legally available throughout Canada. Local laws can vary depending on the province or territory you are visiting. Cannabis remains a Class B prohibited substance in the UK and it is illegal to carry any form of cannabis into the UK without a valid licence issued by the Home Office. This includes cannabis and cannabinoid oils prescribed for medicinal purposes in Canada. It is also illegal to take cannabis across the Canadian border without a permit or exemption authorised by Health Canada.

NON-RESIDENTS:

  • 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 tobacco sticks and 200 grams of manufactured tobacco ;
  • 40 oz. (1.14 liters) of alcoholic beverages or 51 oz. (1.5 liters) of wine or 288 oz. (8.5 liters) of beer or ale ;
  • gifts up to a value of CAD 60.- (excluding tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and advertising matter) per recipient. Gifts for more persons allowed if the value of each gift for each recipient does not exceed CAD 60.-.

FORMER RESIDENTS of Canada after a stay outside of Canada for 12 consecutive months or more: any articles owned and in possession and used at least 6 months prior to their return to Canada. For more information contact nearest Canadian embassy or consulate.

Restrictions and duty on food products: Complex requirements, restrictions and limits apply when importing meat, eggs, dairy products, fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foodstuffs that it is strongly advised not to bring such goods into Canada. Certain seeds, plants and plant parts are subject to special import requirements. For more information, contact the CFIA Import Service Centres in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver or by consulting www.inspection.gc.ca.

The following meat and dairy products may be imported only from the U.S. and must be identified as products of the USA:

  • 24 eggs;
  • CAD 20.- worth of dairy products;
  • 3 kilograms of margarine;
  • 20 kilograms of meat and meat products, with restriction of:
    – max. 1 whole turkey or 10 kilograms of turkey products;
    – max. 10 kilograms of chicken.

Prohibited: articles from Haiti, made of animal skins (e.g. drums). Soft shell turtles from any country, including the USA.

Alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products can only be imported by persons over:

  • 18 years into the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec;
  • 19 years for the provinces of British Colombia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, The Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Isl., Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

Alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products can only be imported by persons over:

  • 18 years into the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec;
  • 19 years for the provinces of British Colombia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, The Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Isl., Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

Alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products can only be imported by persons over:

  • 18 years into the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec;
  • 19 years for the provinces of British Colombia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, The Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Isl., Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

Alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products can only be imported by persons over:

  • 18 years into the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec;
  • 19 years for the provinces of British Colombia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, The Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Isl., Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

If cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco are included in the personal exemption allowance, only a partial exemption may apply. A special duty has to be paid on these products unless they are marked with excise stamp “Duty Paid Canada Droit Acquitte“. An individual may import max. 5 units of tobacco products that are not packaged and marked with the excise stamp. One unit consists of either 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams of manufactured tobacco; or 200 tobacco sticks.

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport (photo page only)
  • Proof of residency abroad for at least 12 months (bank statements, utilities, rent receipts, income tax statement, etc. for first and last month of 12-month period) (returning citizens)
  • Detailed inventory / packing list in English or French
    • Owner of goods should be prepared to provide a valued inventory if requested.
  • Receipts for new items
  • Personal effects accounting document (form BSF186 formerly known as form B4)
  • Original bill of lading (OBL) / air waybill (AWB)
  • Liquor permit, if applicable
  • Immigration papers, if applicable
  • Work permit / student visa holders, if applicable
  • Proof of residence in Canada (copy of deed / sales agreement / lease agreement) (seasonal residents)
  • Copy of death certificate (import of inheritance items)
  • Copy of will or letter from the executor of an estate (import of inheritance items)
  • Obligation for privilege from the Canadian Ministry of External Affairs (diplomats)

Specific Information

  • The owner of the goods must be present for Customs clearance, or use a licensed Customs broker to handle the clearance on their behalf.
  • Returning Canadians may import household goods and personal effects duty free under the following conditions:
    • The goods were owned and used by the owner of the goods for at least 6 months prior to importation.
    • The owner of the goods lived abroad for a minimum of 12 months.
      • If the owner of the goods lived abroad for a period greater than 5 years, the owner of the goods is exempt from the 6-month ownership rule.
    • The goods must still be owned and used and the shipment does not include goods that are for resale or otherwise disposed of within 12 months of importation.
  • Shipments must be declared to Customs at the port of entry (POE) (airport/U.S-Canada border) when the owner of the goods arrives in Canada.
    • Customs will then issue documents needed for Customs clearance:
      • BSF186 personal effects accounting document
      • BSF715 casual goods accounting document.
    • The owner of the goods must present a list of items to be imported.
    • It is recommended that a copy of the packing list / inventory be hand carried for presentation to Customs.
    • Customs may request a value on the shipment (returning citizens).
  • For immigrants and holders of work / students visas, the goods must be owned and used prior to importation and the shipment must not include goods that are to be sold or otherwise disposed of 12 months after importation for duty-free import.
  • Any single item of household goods or personal effects, including automobiles, that were acquired after March 31, 1977, and are valued at more than $10,000 are subject to regular duty and taxes on the excess amount.
    • Seasonal residents may import household items and personal effects duty free under the following conditions:
      • The shipment can include household furniture and furnishings for a seasonal residence, excluding construction, materials, electrical fixtures or other goods permanently attached to or incorporated into a seasonal residence and tools and equipment for the maintenance of a seasonal residence.
      • The goods must have been owned and used prior to arrival.
      • The goods cannot be sold for at least 12 months.
      • The goods are for the personal use of the owner of the goods or their family and are not for any commercial, industrial or occupational purpose.
      • Proof of purchase or a copy of a lease agreement is required for any person who is not a resident of Canada but owns a residential property or has leased a residence for at least 3 years for personal use.
      • Only one shipment of this type is allowed.
  • The copy of the will or letter from the executor of an estate must state that the owner of the goods is the beneficiary of the named items for duty-free import (duty-free inheritances).
  • Diplomats can import household goods and personal effects duty and tax free.
  • The Canadian Government adopted ISPM-15 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication 15) Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (aka NIFM-15) to standardize the treatment of wood packing materials used for the transport of goods.
  • ISPM -15 requires that wood packaging either be heat-treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and marked with the internationally recognized International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) mark, or in lieu of the mark, the consignment must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate specifying the treatment used.

Dutiable Items

  • Firearms and weapons must declare at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada.
  • Explosives, fireworks and ammunition have to imported with written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada.
  • U.S. residents are allowed to operate aircraft, marine, amateur, citizens’ band (CB), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS) radios as well as cellular and PCS (personal communications service) mobile radio telephones in Canada without explicit permission from Industry Canada. If you are not a U.S. resident, you will need permission from Industry Canada to use this equipment.
  • Items imported for commercial use

If you import vehicles, farm equipment or other capital equipment to use in construction, contracting or manufacturing, or other goods to use or to be used in a trade, you have to pay the goods and services tax (GST) and any applicable duty on these items.

Goods subject to import controls

Prohibited Items

  • Obscene material
  • Hate propaganda
  • Child pornography
  • Used or second-hand mattresses
  • Health products (prescription drugs)
  • Cultural property

Miscellaneous (Pets, Motors, and others.)

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport (photo page only)
  • Original proof of ownership (can be sent with the vehicle)
  • OBL
  • Previous registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Must pass Canadian safety and pollution standards test

Specific Information

  • The car must comply with Canadian standards.
  • All vehicles are inspected by the Canadian Agricultural Inspection Agency upon arrival into Canada.
  • The vehicle must be owned and used for more than 6 months in order to qualify for tax and duty relief.
  • For returning residents, a tax and duty exemption applied to the first $10,000 of the vehicle’s value.
    • Anything in excess of $10,000 will be charged applicable duty and taxes.
  • For work permit / student visa holders, duty and tax will be waived for the duration of the permit.
    • The vehicle will be imported on a temporary basis for the duration of the work permit / student visa must be re-exported upon departure from Canada.
  • All cars / motorbikes should be clean on arrival and free of any soil or containments.
  • It is recommended to include proof of cleaning (receipts) with the shipping documents.
    • Steam cleaning may be required.
  • The vehicle cannot contain household goods and personal effects items.
  • Motor vehicles imported into Canada cannot be licensed in Canada unless cleared through Canadian Customs.

Pets

Birds:

Birds from countries other than the USA: no birds of any type are allowed entry into Canada unless accompanied by an Import Permit which must be obtained prior to arrival in Canada. This includes pet birds (parrots, song birds, etc.). The import of birds into Canada is also subject to control by the Canadian Wildlife Service, therefore, a permit may also be required. Please view: www.inspection.gc.ca under the title Pet Imports for further details.

Birds from the USA:

  • Accompanied by owner: birds must be found healthy when inspected at port of entry. Owner must sign a declaration stating that: – birds have been in his/her possession for the 90 days period preceding date of importation; and
    – birds have not been in contact with any other birds during that time; and
    – birds are the owner’s personal pets;
    – and are not being imported for the purpose of re-sale. The owner or any family member must not have imported birds into Canada under this pet bird provision during the preceding 90 days period;
  • Unaccompanied birds: Psittacine birds (parrots, parakeets etc.) must be accompanied by an Import Permit issued by the CFIA. Please see: www.inspection.gc.ca under title “Pet Imports” for further details.

Cats and Dogs:

  • From non-rabies free countries: dogs and cats may enter Canada if accompanied by valid rabies vaccination certificate issued in either English or French, by a licensed veterinarian, clearly identifying the animal and showing that they are currently vaccinated against rabies. The certificate should indicate the type of rabies vaccine used, date administered and expiry date (please note that if validity date does not appear on certificate, it will be considered a 1 year vaccine);
  • From rabies-free countries (as recognized by Canada): Dogs and cats may enter Canada if accompanied by a certificate, in either English or French, of an official government veterinarian clearly identifying the animal and showing that rabies has not existed in that country for the 6 month period immediately preceding shipment of the animal, and that the animal has been in that country for the 6 months preceding import or since birth. Please note that (a) above is also an option if the animal has been vaccinated against rabies.
    Note: Dogs and cats under 3 months old are exempt from above rabies requirements. In addition, please note the following section (c) for all puppies under 8 months old;
  • For puppies under 8 months old traveling unaccompanied to Canada, in addition to above, they are required to be accompanied by a detailed health certificate. Please see www.inspection.gc.ca under title “Pets Imports” and then “Dogs” for further details.
  • An inspection fee must be paid for dogs and cats from countries other than the USA: CAD 30.- and tax for the first animal in the shipment, and CAD 5.- tax for each additional animal in the shipment. Please note that above only applies to personal pets and does not apply to commercial shipments. For further information on importing animals, please view www.inspection.gc.ca under title “Pets Imports” or contact: Client Services, AHPD, CFIA, 59 Camelot Drive, Nepean, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0Y9. Tel: 1 613 225 2342 ext. 4629 or 4790.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the first port of entry.

Currency

Currency Import regulations:

Same regulations as for export apply.

Currency Export regulations:

Local currency (Canadian Dollar-CAD) and foreign currencies: no restrictions up to CAD 10,000.-. Amounts equal to or greater than CAD 10,000.- must be declared

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Prior to carrying a firearm into another country or bringing one back into Canada, the Canadian Firearms Centre should be contacted in order to find out what particular documentation is required, by calling 1-800-731-4000 from anywhere in Canada or the USA or (506) 624-5380 from elsewhere, or by consulting http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/.

Note: replica firearms are classified as prohibited devices and cannot be imported into Canada.

Antiques, Artifacts, Carpets, Paintings

  • No documents are required if the items are part of the household effects shipment.
  • Proof of age will be required if item is over 100 years old.
  • The items are permitted duty-free entry if the following conditions are met:
    • The works of art are part of a bona fide household removal.
    • The works of art are not for sale or other disposal.
  • Antiques and works or art imported into Canada for resale, are subject to different regulations.

Wedding Trousseau / Gifts

  • Wedding “trousseau” means goods acquired for use in the household of a newly married couple, but does not include vehicles, vessels or aircraft; wedding “gifts” means goods of a non-commercial nature received by a person as personal gifts in consideration of that person’s recent marriage or the anticipated marriage of that person within three months of the person’s return to Canada.
  • Wedding trousseau and gifts may be imported duty and tax free providing:
    • A bride’s trousseau / gifts owned by, in the possession of, and imported by a recently married person or a bride-to-be whose anticipated marriage is to take place within 3 months of the date of her return to Canada or has taken place no more than 3 months prior to arrival in Canada.
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