Drugs, alcohol and travel

Find information and advice to help you understand and avoid the risks related to travelling with drugs and alcohol.

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It is illegal to take cannabis – including products containing cannabis, such as edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals, and all products containing CBD – across the Canadian border, whether you are entering or leaving the country:

At your destination

If you travel to other countries, including the United States, with any amount of cannabis in your possession, you could:

It is your responsibility to learn about the laws, including the legal status of cannabis use and possession, in your destination country.

If you are travelling for business related to the cannabis industry, contact the foreign government office in Canada of the country you plan to visit.

For more information, consult our Travel Advice and Advisories.

Returning to Canada

It is illegal to enter Canada with cannabis, unless you have a prescription for a medication containing cannabis authorized by Health Canada.

If you are entering Canada and have cannabis with you in any form, you must declare it to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Not declaring cannabis in your possession at the Canadian border is a serious criminal offence. You could be arrested and prosecuted.

Illegal drugs

Do not agree to transport, hold, buy or use illegal drugs under any circumstances.

When you are abroad, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting.

Most countries, including the United States, have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to illegal drugs, including possession and use. You could face severe penalties for the possession of even a small quantity.

You may also be denied entry to a country if you have previously used drugs that are considered to be illegal in that country.

Being a foreigner or not knowing the local laws is no excuse to be carrying illegal drugs. Your Canadian citizenship does not give you immunity or preferential treatment in other countries.

In Canada and abroad, be aware that illegal drugs may be mixed with other more potent substances that can lead to health harms including overdose and death. You may not be buying what you expected.

Learn more about drug-related laws by destination: visit the laws and culture section of our Travel Advice and Advisories pages.

Drug trafficking

Follow these simple precautions to help avoid unintentional import or export of controlled substances:

Crossing the border with controlled substances

It is illegal to take controlled substances across the Canadian border, whether you are entering or leaving the country, unless you have a prescription to do so.

Refer to the exemption for travellers for more information on importing or exporting prescription drug products containing a narcotic or a controlled drug.

You must always declare your prescription medication with a controlled substance to a customs officer at the point of entry into Canada at the time of import. In the case of an export, the export must not contravene the laws and regulations of the country of destination.

Remember that there are limits to the amount of prescription drugs you can carry with you when you travel – particularly when they contain controlled substances or cannabis.

Learn more about travelling with medication.

If you attempt to cross a border with controlled substances without authorization, you could:

Exemption in British Columbia and what it means for travellers

From January 31, 2023 to January 31, 2026, adults (18 and over) in the Canadian province of British Columbia will not be subject to criminal charges for the possession of a cumulative total of up to 2.5 grams of certain illegal drugs for personal use, subject to certain exceptions.

This exemption does not change Canada's border rules. Taking illegal drugs across the Canadian border – either exiting or entering – remains illegal even if travelling to and from BC, where an exemption will be in place. It can result in serious criminal penalties both in Canada and abroad.

Learn more about BC’s Exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. (Health Canada)


The import, possession and use of alcohol are strictly prohibited in some countries.

Before travelling outside Canada, contact the foreign government office in Canada of the country you plan to visit to find out whether alcohol is permitted.

See the list of foreign representatives in Canada.

If you plan on bringing alcohol back to Canada, remember that you’ll need to declare it at the border and that there are limits on quantities you can bring in.

Learn more about what you can bring home to Canada.

Drinking alcohol

You should follow the same safety rules for drinking abroad that you would at home.

Follow these tips to stay safe:

For more information, consult our Travel Advice and Advisories.

If you’re arrested

Canadian consular services officials can provide some assistance, but they cannot override the decisions of local authorities and they cannot arrange for your release.

If you run into trouble abroad, let the arresting authorities know right away that you want to notify Canadian consular officials.

Local authorities do not have to notify the Canadian consular or diplomatic office of your arrest unless you specifically ask them to do so.

Learn more about arrest and detention outside Canada.

Getting help when you’re outside Canada.

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