What you can bring home to Canada

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When you return to Canada from a foreign country, you may qualify for a personal exemption. This allows you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying regular duty and taxes. There are exceptions for a minimum duty that may apply to some tobacco products.

Here are some general guidelines on what you can and cannot bring home when returning to Canada. Items allowed into Canada must still be declared on your declaration card.

Plan ahead while you are abroad by using the duty and taxes estimator as you shop to help you make informed decisions on the amount of duty and taxes you will have to pay when you return to Canada.
You can also consult the Personal Exemptions Mini Guide to the more popular items you can bring into Canada under your personal exemption based on the length of time you have been abroad.

 

Absence of less than 24 hours

There are no personal exemptions for same-day cross-border shoppers

 

Absence of 24 hours or more

You can claim goods up to CAN$200 without paying any duty. You must have the goods with you when you enter Canada, and tobacco products or alcoholic beverages are not included in this amount. If you bring in goods worth more than CAN$200, you have to pay full duty on the total amount.

Absence of 24 hours or more
Maximum AmountMinimum AbsenceAlcoholic beveragesTobacco products
$200 24 hours Not included Not included
 

 

Absence of 48 hours or more

You can claim goods worth up CAN$800 without paying any duty. You must have the goods with you when you enter Canada. Although you can include some tobacco products and alcohol, a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products and manufactured tobacco. See the CSBA web pages on Alcoholic beverages and Tobacco products for more details.

Absence of 48 hours or more
Maximum AmountMinimum AbsenceAlcoholic beveragesTobacco products
$800 48 hours Specified quantities only Specified quantities only - Minimum duty may apply
 

Special duty rate

If you exceed your personal exemption after a trip of 48 hours or longer outside Canada you will be charged a special duty rate of 7% on the next CAN$300-worth of goods. The rate applies only to goods that accompany you and does not apply to tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. You still have to pay any Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) that applies. In some provinces, the CBSA also collects the provincial sales tax.

Special duty rate
Maximum AmountMinimum Absence*MFNTAlcoholic beveragesTobacco products
$300 48 hours Specified quantities only Not included Not included
 

 

Absence of seven days or more

You can claim up to CAN$800 worth of goods without paying any duty. You must have the tobacco and alcohol with you when you enter Canada, but the rest of the goods can arrive later by mail, courier or delivery agency. Although you can include some tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products and manufactured tobacco. See the CSBA web pages on Alcoholic beverages and Tobacco products for more details.

Absence of seven days or more
Maximum AmountMinimum AbsenceAlcoholic beveragesTobacco products
$800 Seven days Specified quantities only Specified quantities only - Minimum duty may apply
 

 

Part of the year outside Canada

Even if you spend part of the year in another country, you are still considered a resident of Canada. This means that you are entitled to the same exemptions as other Canadians. When you import foreign goods or vehicles for your personal use into Canada (even temporarily), you have to meet all import requirements and pay all applicable duty and taxes.

 

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are products that exceed 0.5% alcohol by volume.

You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcohol and alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes as part of your personal exemption:

Alcoholic beverages
ProductMetricImperial*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, 355-ml cans or bottles of beer or ale

*Bottle sizes vary, but the amounts listed are firm.

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

Note

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.

Tobacco products

If you are 18 years of age or over, you are allowed to bring in all of the following amounts of tobacco into Canada duty- and taxes-free within your personal exemption:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 50 cigars
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco, and
  • 200 tobacco sticks.

Note

If you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco in your personal exemption, you may receive only a partial exemption. You will have to pay a special duty on these products unless they are marked "CANADA DUTY PAID • DROIT ACQUITTÉ." Canadian-made products with this mark are sold at duty-free shops. You can speed up your clearance by having your tobacco products available for inspection when you arrive.

 

Conditions on your personal exemptions

Except for restricted items, you can bring back any amount of goods as long as you are willing to pay the duty and taxes and any provincial or territorial assessments that apply. This rule applies even if you do not qualify for a personal exemption.

You are eligible for a personal exemption if you are

  • 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.

Even young children and infants are entitled to a personal exemption. As a parent or guardian, you can make a declaration on behalf of a child as long as the goods you are declaring are for the child's use.

You cannot combine your personal exemptions with those of another person or transfer them to someone else.

You cannot combine your 48-hour exemption (CAN$800) with your seven-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. These goods include souvenirs, 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 duty and taxes.

You should have all purchases made abroad and your receipts readily available. Be prepared to make a full and accurate declaration, including the amount of goods you are bringing with you, in Canadian dollars.

Making a full declaration and paying any duty and taxes you owe is a simple, straightforward process. You can pay by cash, travellers' cheque, Visa, American Express or MasterCard. The CBSA also accepts debit cards at most offices. If an amount is no more than CAN$2,500, you can sometimes pay by personal cheque with suitable identification. A border services officer will give you a receipt showing the calculations and amount you paid.

 

Arriving with $10,000 or more

Under Canada's Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, there are no restrictions on the amount of money that you can bring into or take out of Canada. You must, however, report amounts of currency equal to or greater than CAN $10,000 or its equivalent in a foreign currency to the Canada Border Services Agency. These rules apply whether you are bringing the money into, or taking it out of Canada, or carrying the money with you or sending it by mail or by courier.

 

Food, plants, animals and related products

Certain food, plants, animals and related products pose a risk to Canada. 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.

Because of these risks, the Government of Canada regulates the import and export of controlled food, plants, animals and related products to and from Canada.

The food, plant and animal-related threats that pose a risk to Canada are constantly changing. Refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to obtain the latest CFIA import requirements. AIRS is an automated reference tool that uses a question and answer approach to guide you through a series of questions about the Harmonized System (HS) Code, origin, destination, end use and miscellaneous qualifiers of the product you wish to import.

Hint: Search AIRS by "key word" if you do not know the HS Code of the good you want to import.

Certain species of plants and animals might also be subject to the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These requirements will not appear in AIRS, so it is important to check the CITES Control List as well.

Restrictions

Endangered Species

Parts or derivatives of endangered species can be found in many common souvenirs such as clothing, jewellery, musical instruments, herbal or traditional medicines, cosmetic creams or food products. Souvenirs made from endangered animals and plants may be freely sold in the country you are visiting. The fact that they are available does not mean that they can be legally bought or sold, or brought across the border. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an agreement to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. You may bring some souvenirs into Canada made from some CITES-listed species without a CITES permit, as long as you have the souvenirs on your person or in your accompanying personal baggage. It is your responsibility to know if you are importing restricted wildlife species (plants and animals, and their derivatives) – check the CITES Species List, and follow all of the requirements to legally transport them. You may also consult the Endangered Species and the International Traveller’s brochure.

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) may require permits and/or impose an import quota on certain commodities. For more information, visit the Export and Import Controls Bureau section of the DFATD website.

 

Gifts

While you are outside Canada, you can send gifts free of duty and taxes to friends at home 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 gift card to avoid any misunderstanding.

Gifts you send from outside Canada do not count as part of your personal exemption, but gifts you bring back in your personal baggage do and are treated like any other purchases.

 

Jewellery

Because jewellery is often very valuable and can be difficult to identify, you should travel with as little as possible.

Take the following steps before you leave Canada. It will make it easier for you to re-enter the country with jewellery:

  • Obtain an appraisal report and a signed and dated photograph of each piece of jewellery from a recognized Canadian gemologist, jeweller or your insurance agent.
  • Obtain written certification that the items or jewellery in the photographs are the ones described in the appraisal report.
  • Take the jewellery appraisal reports, certification statements and photographs to a CBSA office to be validated.
  • If the jewellery was purchased in Canada, keep the sales receipt.
  • If you imported the goods previously, make sure you have a copy of your receipt.
  • Carry the appraisal reports, certifications and photographs when you are travelling outside Canada.

 

Prizes and awards

In most cases, you have to pay regular duty and taxes on prizes and awards you receive outside Canada. Prizes can be declared as part of your personal exemption and duty must be paid on any excess amount.

Non-resalable prizes such as medals, trophies or plaques are generally duty- and taxes-free. For more information, call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999 within Canada. TTY is also available within Canada at 1-866-335-3237. From outside Canada, call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064.

Restrictions

The importation of certain goods is restricted in Canada. Here are some examples of these goods. Make sure you have the information you require before attempting to import these items into Canada.

 

Cultural property

Some antiques or cultural objects considered to have historical significance to their country of origin cannot be brought into Canada without the appropriate export permits. Before you import such items, you should contact Canadian Heritage:

Movable Cultural Property
Canadian Heritage
25 Eddy Street, 9th floor (25-9-N)
Gatineau QC K1A 0M5

Telephone: 1-866-811-0055
Fax: 819-997-7757
Website: www.pch.gc.ca

 

Explosives, fireworks and ammunition

You must have written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada. For more information, contact:

Explosives Regulatory Division
Natural Resources Canada
1431 Merivale Road
Ottawa ON K1A 0G1
Telephone: 613-948-5200
www.nrcan.gc.ca

 

Firearms and weapons

You must declare all weapons and firearms at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada. If not, you could face prosecution and the goods may be seized.

For more detailed information on importing a firearm into Canada, read Importing a Firearm or Weapon Into Canada or call the Border Information Service at one of the telephone numbers listed in the Additional information section. For information about applying for a Canadian firearms licence or a firearms registration certificate, or to obtain an Application for an Authorization to Transport Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Firearms (Form CAFC 679) in advance, please contact:

Canadian Firearms Program
Ottawa ON K1A 0R2
Telephone: 1-800-731-4000 (toll-free in Canada and the United States)
506-624-5380 (from all other countries)
Fax: 613-825-0297
E-mail: cfp-pcaf@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca
Canada and the United States 1-888-848-8240

 

Prohibited consumer products

This is a partial list of consumer products that are banned in Canada and cannot be imported:

  • Baby walkers
  • Infant self-feeding devices
  • Jequirity beans and items containing them
  • Lawn darts with elongated tips

A full list of products that are prohibited under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act is provided in Canada Consumer Product Safety Act Quick Reference Guide - 2011.

 

Regulated consumer products

This is a partial list of regulated consumer products that must meet Canadian safety requirements:

Car seats must meet the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard and have a National Safety Mark and a compliance label stating the height and weight of the child for which the seat was designed. For more information, see Child Car Seat Cross Border Shopping – What Parents and Caregivers Should Know.

Children's Sleepwear must meet flammability requirements. For more information, see Children's Sleepwear: Flammability Requirements Guideline.

Cribs should have the manufacturer's label indicating the model number, date of manufacture and assembly instructions.

Strollers must meet labelling and performance requirements.

Toys must meet mechanical, electrical, toxicological and flammability requirements. For more information, see Safety Requirements for Children's Toys and Related Products.

Hockey helmets and face protectors must meet the requirements of standards published by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

Playpens must meet labelling and performance requirements.

For more information, please visit Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety web page.

Obscene material, hate propaganda and child pornography cannot be imported into Canada.

Used or second-hand mattresses

You cannot import used or second-hand mattresses into Canada unless you have a certificate, letter or any other document signed by a person qualified to clean and fumigate that clearly proves that the mattresses have been cleaned and fumigated.

 

Health products (prescription drugs)

In Canada, health products may be regulated differently than they are in other countries. For example, a drug that is available without a prescription in one country may require a prescription in Canada. There are also restrictions on the quantities and types of health products that can be brought into Canada.

For more information on importing health products into Canada, please consult Health Canada's Guidance Document on the Import Requirements for Health Products under the Food and Drugs Act and its Regulations.

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