Bon Voyage, But... Essential Information for Canadian Travellers 

Bon Voyage, But

Travelling abroad? Travel Smart!

Millions of Canadians travel, study or move abroad every year. They soon discover that every country they visit is different from Canada in many ways.

Each year, Global Affairs Canada helps thousands of Canadians who run into problems while they are travelling, working, studying and living in other countries. Some are beyond anyone's control, and others can be prevented. Take personal responsibility for your travel. Before you leave home, learn about the risks and take some steps to avoid problems so you can stay safe and have a better trip.

This booklet includes information on how to travel safely and lists some of the consular services available to Canadians abroad. Be sure to read it before leaving and keep it on hand while you are far from home.


Take your first step to a safe and healthy trip abroad with help from our many publications. Download copies or order free print versions from Publications.

What are Canadian consular services?

If you, or a loved one, are outside Canada and lose your passport, need urgent medical care, have been arrested or detained, or face an emergency, Canadian consular officials may be able to help you. This help provided to Canadians abroad is called “consular services”.

You can reach consular officials 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through more than 260 points of service in 150 countries and through the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa. If you get into trouble while you are abroad, contact the nearest Government of Canada office as soon as possible.

Each case is different, and the type and amount of help consular officials can give you depends on the situation. A natural disaster, violent conflict or political unrest, or the laws and regulations in other countries may mean that consular officials are less able to help you. Before you travel, make sure you know how to find the Government of Canada office abroad closest to your destination and understand the services it can and cannot provide.

Government of Canada officials abroad can:

  • give you a list of local doctors and hospitals if there is a medical emergency
  • give you advice and the contact information for local police and medical services if you are a victim of robbery, sexual assault or other violence
  • help if a person is missing or if a child is abducted outside of Canada
  • replace a lost, stolen, damaged or expired passport
  • help you with private money transfers
  • contact your family or friends, with your consent, if you have had an accident or are held by police
  • ask Canadian police to notify next of kin in case of a death abroad
  • help to repatriate the remains of a loved one back to Canada
  • help you to identify a funeral home with experience in international funeral arrangements
  • ask for a prompt and transparent investigation into suspicious circumstances if there is an alleged or apparent crime or death (although they cannot interfere in an investigation or legal matter)
  • give you a list of local lawyers
  • give you sources of information on local laws and regulations

Government of Canada officials abroad cannot:

  • guarantee your safety and security while you are abroad
  • post bail, pay legal fees or medical expenses
  • refund your hotel costs if your trip is delayed or cancelled
  • give legal advice, get involved in private legal matters or financial disputes
  • get you out of prison
  • ask foreign immigration officials to allow you to enter or exit a country
  • solve immigration-related problems such as overstaying a visa and visa applications;
  • take fingerprints or obtain criminal record checks
  • help you find employment, accept your mail, store your personal effects or search for lost items for you
  • investigate a crime or death abroad, which is the responsibility of local authorities
  • ask local authorities to give you special treatment or to exempt you from the due process of local law
  • take responsibility for a child who has been abducted by a parent involved in a custody dispute

Emergency consular services

Emergency consular help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During office hours, contact the nearest Government of Canada office abroad. After office hours, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa. If you are asked to leave a message, we will return your call. Make sure your message is clear and that you leave a telephone number or contact address. 


Connect with the world and stay up to date on travel advice for more than 200 destinations.

Read the Travel Advice and Advisories for information on safety and security, entry and exit requirements, health risks, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate and other important travel issues.

Pack the app! Download the Travel Smart app, your one-stop shop for international travel information and advice.

Register with Registration of Canadians Abroad to stay connected to Canada.

Sign up to receive daily emails on the latest updates to the Travel Advice and Advisories.

Visit, follow its Twitter and Facebook accounts to stay in touch with Canada wherever you may be.

Our RSS feeds provide the latest information on your choice of countries.


Be informed

Before you leave Canada, learn about your destination by reading our Travel Advice and Advisories and make sure it is safe to travel to or through there. Sudden civil unrest, disease outbreaks or a natural disaster could affect your travel plans and your travel insurance.

Find the contact information for the Government of Canada offices abroad in the countries you plan to visit and carry it with you at all times. Make sure you register with Registration of Canadians Abroad. Before you leave, give someone you trust your travel itinerary and contact details, your birth certificate and your travel insurance documents, and the emergency number for Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

Your Canadian passport

A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that proves that you are a Canadian citizen and have the right to enter Canada. If you plan to travel outside Canada with your spouse or children, each family member needs a valid passport. If you are a dual Canadian citizen travelling by air, you must present a valid Canadian passport in order to board your flight to Canada.


Plan ahead and apply for a passport well before you book an international flight. Passport application forms, service locations and additional information are available at Canadian passports. Passport application forms are also available at passport offices and passport receiving agents.

To avoid delays, make sure your passport application is complete and includes the required documents and fee. Processing may take up to 20 business days from the time your completed application is received at a passport office, not including mailing time. A small number of cases may need more processing time for additional security, status or citizenship checks. Urgent, express and regular pick-up services are also available at select passport offices for a fee. Visit Canadian passports or for more information.

Before you go, check with the embassy or consulate of your destination country in Canada for its rules and restrictions on passport validity. Some countries will not let you enter if your passport is due to expire within six months of the date you plan to return to Canada.


As the custodian of the passport and any other travel document previously issued to you or your child, you are responsible for keeping them in a safe and dry place at all times. You can help prevent water damage to your passport by storing it in a plastic folder or a waterproof wallet.

When you are not travelling, your passport should be stored in a secure location in your home where it is not easily accessible to others.

Always keep your passport safe and never tell anyone your travel document information unless it is absolutely necessary. A Canadian passport is a valuable document that should be kept in a safe place at all times. Do not leave it unattended in your luggage, vehicle, hotel room or elsewhere.

Scan or photocopy the identification page of your passport (page 2) and email the scanned image to yourself. Leaving your birth or citizenship certificate where it can be accessed by a trusted friend or family member may help in case you need to replace your passport while travelling.

If you must send your passport to a visa office, use a courier service that allows you to track your shipment. Include a pre-paid, self-addressed envelope with your visa application for the return of your passport. Keep a record of the tracking numbers on the mail labels so you can track both the delivery and the return of your passport. For more information, contact your destination country's embassy or consulate in Canada.


Sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service before you leave Canada or while you are abroad. If you are registered, we can help you if there is an emergency abroad, such as an earthquake or civil unrest, or inform you about a personal emergency at home.

This service is:
• free
• fast
• confidential
• mobile-friendly

For more information:

+1 613 944 6788.

Download the Travel Smart app at

*The personal information obtained through registration is confidential and is used in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act.


Report the loss or theft immediately to the Passport Program or to the nearest Government of Canada office to your destination and to the local police (in Canada or abroad).

To apply for a new adult passport, you must submit:

  • a completed general application (not renewal) form, signed by your guarantor
  • proof of your Canadian citizenship (e.g., a birth certificate or citizenship certificate)
  • two identical photographs less than six months old, one signed by a guarantor
  • a document proving your identity
  • the required fee
  • a completed Statutory Declaration Concerning a Lost, Stolen, Damaged, Destroyed or Inaccessible Canadian Passport or Travel Document form (PPTC 203)

See Canadian passports for more information or to replace a child’s passport.

If you find your passport after it was reported lost or stolen, do not use it for travel. Once your passport is reported lost, it will be invalidated electronically and can no longer be used. Return it immediately to a passport office or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad.   

If your passport is damaged, apply for a new one. Otherwise, you could face long delays at passport checkpoints, you could be refused entry or exit at border crossings, and you may not be able to board an aircraft.

Visas and other entry requirements

You need to obtain a visa to enter certain countries. The most common visas are business, work, student and tourist. Be sure that you are aware of all entry requirements before you travel. Some examples of entry requirements include:

  • certified criminal record check (provided by the RCMP)
  • medical certificate
  • proof of HIV testing
  • yellow fever vaccination certificate

For more information, contact your destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada.

Some countries will allow you to enter only if you can prove you will be leaving and have enough money to support yourself during your stay. Be prepared to show your return or onward ticket, a bank statement or any visas that confirm that you plan to visit another country.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship means that you are a citizen of more than one country. Dual (or multiple) citizenship is legal in Canada. However, it may not be legal in the other country or countries where you hold citizenship. 

Use your Canadian passport when you are travelling abroad and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities if the laws of the country you are visiting permit. If you are a dual citizen and travel to the other country where you hold citizenship, local authorities could refuse to give you access to Canadian consular services. Travelling on your Canadian passport may help you to access these services if you need them.

When you are flying to or transiting through Canada by air, you need a valid Canadian passport to board your flight to Canada. This means that, as a dual Canadian citizen, you cannot fly to Canada with your non-Canadian passport. If the other country where you hold citizenship needs you to enter and exit that country using a passport issued by its government, you will still need a valid Canadian passport for air travel to Canada. In this case, make sure you carry both passports when you travel.

If you are an American–Canadian dual citizen with a valid U.S. passport, you don’t need a Canadian passport to fly to Canada. However, you will still need to carry proper identification and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada .

For more information, see: Dual citizens need a valid Canadian passport.

As a citizen of another country, you have to follow that country’s laws and regulations. For example, you may have to register for military service or pay taxes there.

Dual citizenship can also cause problems in a third country if there is confusion over your citizenship. For more information, visit Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).


To avoid unpleasant surprises, find out if you, your spouse or any other family member is a citizen of another country. If so, contact the nearest embassy or consulate of that country in Canada to find out if you need to meet specific entry requirements. This could reduce the risks and difficulties for you and your family when you travel there.

Information about dual citizenship by country is also available in the Travel Advice and Advisories.

Children travelling abroad

All children, of any age, should carry a valid Canadian passport when they are travelling or living abroad. You should also carry these important documents for each child:

  • a photocopy of the child’s birth certificate or Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
  • divorce document
  • consent letter for travelling abroad or custody documents
  • death certificate if one or both parents are deceased

These documents will help prove your citizenship, residency and custodial rights when you return to Canada.

Check with each destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada about its entry conditions and necessary documents. Make sure you put some kind of identification, even a photocopy, in your child’s pocket in case you are separated during your travels. Carry recent photographs of your child on your phone for emergency identification.

If a child is travelling abroad alone, with one parent or legal guardian, with friends or relatives or with a group, we recommend that they carry a consent letter for children travelling abroad or a court order. This can make travel simpler for Canadian children because it proves that they have permission to travel abroad from parents or guardians who are not with them on the trip. Immigration authorities may ask to see a consent letter when a child is entering or leaving a foreign country, and Canadian officials may ask to see one when a child is re-entering Canada.

The consent letter should be signed by any person or organization not travelling with the child that:

  • has custody rights
  • has guardianship rights
  • has parental authority, or
  • is a parent or guardian who has access to the child

Make sure you include the date when the child will be returning home. Any adult over the age of majority can witness the signing of a consent letter. Having the letter witnessed by a notary public may mean that border officials will be less likely to question it.

Speak with your lawyer if you are involved in a custody dispute or if one might develop while the child is abroad. Make sure your custody order or agreement permits the child to travel outside Canada. If you travel abroad with the child without the legal right to do so, you could be accused of parental child abduction. Canadian custody orders may not be recognized or enforceable in other countries without going to court and may not be enforceable at all in other countries. Some countries allow a parent involved in a custody dispute to ban a child from travelling back to Canada. Check with your destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada if you have any questions.

Some airlines may provide additional services for an unaccompanied child for a fee. If your child will be travelling alone, be sure to contact the airline to discuss its policy.

For more information, see Children and travel.


A forced marriage means that one or both people do not, or are not able to, consent to the marriage.

If you are in Canada and you think you will be taken to another country for a forced marriage, try to avoid travelling abroad if you can.

If you are at the airport about to be taken abroad against your will, try to report your situation to someone if you can do it safely.

If you are a Canadian in another country and believe that you will be forced to marry or have been forced to marry, contact the nearest Canadian government office.

Nobody under the age of 16 is allowed to get married in Canada. It is also a crime to take anyone who is under 16 out of Canada to be married in another country, even if the person wants to get married.

For more information, visit our Forced marriage page and read our publications Travelling with Children and International Child Abduction: a Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad

Most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) Canadians do not have problems when they go abroad. However, laws and customs in other countries can be very different from those in Canada. This can result in increased risks. When you choose a travel destination, remember that in many countries same-sex relations, marriages and relationships are illegal and can be considered criminal offences. While you are outside Canada, you must follow local laws, even if they differ from Canadian laws. 

If your passport or travel document includes an “X” designation observation, check with the embassy or consulate in Canada of all of the countries you intend to visit or transit through to enquire about their entry requirements. Until the Canadian government is able to issue passports with an “X” in the sex field, use the same sex that is printed on the bio page (page 2) of your travel document when you book your travel or apply for immigration documents such as visas. This will help avoid delays and problems at border entries and airline check-ins.

For more information, visit your destination's Travel Advice and Advisories page and Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad.

Travellers with disabilities

If you have visual, hearing, mobility or other impairments you may have difficulty having your needs met in certain countries. See Travelling with disabilities for information on:

Contact your destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada to find out about the services available for travellers with disabilities. Check with your airline and the website of the airport at your destination to familiarize yourself with its services for travellers with disabilities.

Protecting your health

The Public Health Agency of Canada strongly recommends that you visit a travel medicine clinic or your health-care provider six weeks before your planned departure date. Your health care provider will assess your need for vaccinations or preventive medication and inform you of precautions you can take to reduce risks to your health while you travel. Visit Find a travel health clinic to find a travel medicine clinic near you.


International travel can expose you to infectious diseases not frequently seen in Canada. Ensure that your routine immunizations – including tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), polio, measles, mumps and rubella – are up to date. You may need proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter some countries. Be aware that some vaccinations and preventive medications can take time to become effective. For more information on vaccine recommendations and other health advice for specific countries, see the Travel Advice and Advisories.

If you are travelling with infants or small children, you may need to arrange an alternative or accelerated childhood immunization schedule for them. For more information, visit Tips for healthy travel with children.

The Zika virus is a newly emerging disease that can spread through the bite of an infected mosquito or through sexual contact with someone who is infected with the virus. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus. All travellers to countries or areas with recent or ongoing risk of Zika virus infection should protect themselves from mosquito bites at all times.

Pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to Zika-affected countries or areas, as Zika virus can increase the risk of serious birth defects to an unborn child. If you cannot avoid or postpone travel, talk to a health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy and follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures. Men who have travelled to a Zika-affected area and whose partners are pregnant should use condoms correctly or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy. For more information on the Zika virus, including a list of countries with recent Zika virus infection, visit Zika virus.


If you take medication, be sure to pack an extra supply and carry a copy of your original prescription listing both the generic and trade names of the product in case your medication is lost or stolen or you are away longer than expected.

Do not try to save luggage space by combining medications in one container. Keep all medications in the original, labelled container to avoid problems at customs.

Some medications that are sold over the counter in Canada are illegal or require a prescription in other countries. Contact your destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada for information on whether your medication is legally available in the country you plan to visit. Before you travel to certain countries, you should obtain a note from your doctor stating the medical reasons for your prescription and the recommended dosage.

If you need syringes for a medical condition, such as diabetes, it is important that you take along an adequate supply. You should also carry a medical certificate that indicates the syringes are for medical use. See Travelling with medication for more information.

It is illegal to enter or leave Canada while carrying cannabis, even if you have a medical document from a health care provider or are going to places where it is legal, such as Amsterdam, Netherlands, or the U.S. states of California, Colorado or Washington. You will encounter problems with your destination's law enforcement if you are carrying cannabis while you are travelling abroad. Documentation that authorizes you to possess cannabis for medical purposes applies only in Canada. 


If you are not feeling well when you return to Canada, see Post-travel medical problems at the end of the Coming Home section.


Your Canadian health insurance will not cover your medical fees while you are outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may pay for none, or only a very small part, of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. For more information, contact your provincial or territorial health authority. You could spend years paying for the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffered in another country. The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.

It is up to you to buy the best travel insurance you can afford and to understand the terms of your policy. Some activities that are considered to be “risky” may not be covered. Your travel insurance should include health, life and disability coverage that will help you avoid the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada.

If you are flying, make sure you are insured for flight cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage and document replacement. This will save you from major trip interruptions and extra costs. If you are driving, make sure you have driver and vehicle coverage in case you have an accident.


The booklet Well on Your Way gives you valuable advice on how to protect your health while you are abroad, including information on:

  • thinking about travel health risks
  • preventing health problems before, during and after international travel
  • coping with a health emergency abroad
  • obtaining consular services if you have a health emergency

To order a copy, call 1-800-267-8376 (in Canada) or 613-944-4000, or download it at Publications.

Carry your insurance Information with you while you are travelling. Leave a copy of the information with a friend or relative at home or email it to them.

Your provincial or territorial health insurance plan will stop covering you if you live outside Canada for a certain length of time. If you are planning to live abroad for some time, you should buy medical insurance for yourself and your family. Check with your insurance company before you leave Canada.


Wherever you are going, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination at least twice: once when you are planning your trip and again just before you leave. If there is a Travel Advisory for your destination after you make your travel arrangements and before you leave for your trip or while you are gone, your travel health insurance or your trip cancellation insurance may be affected. Verify your coverage with your insurance provider.

Travelling by car

Each country has its own driving regulations. In some countries, a driver may be questioned and/or detained by police after even a minor accident. You may have to obtain an International Driving Permit and/or additional insurance to drive a vehicle in another country. For more information, see the Travel Advice and Advisories or the Canadian Automobile Association.

Travelling and money

Canadian money and traveller’s cheques are not often accepted abroad. Before you leave Canada, speak with a bank or foreign currency agent to find out the best currency to carry to your destination.

It is a good idea to have a small amount of local money with you when you arrive, unless importing local currency is a crime. There may also be limits on the amount of money you can take into or out of a country. Check your destination’s currency regulations with your travel agent or the country’s embassy or consulate in Canada.

You are responsible for your own safety and for your financial needs abroad. Your debit or credit cards may not be accepted in your destination country. Check with your financial institution as you plan your trip to find out whether it has international branches or partners there where you can use your debit card without a fee.

Before you leave, arrange a way to obtain more money if you need it.

Protecting your valuables

Before you take your valuable items out of the country, use the free identification service available at any Canada Border Services Agency office in Canada. Your valuables will be listed on a card that you can take with you and present as proof of ownership to a Border Services Officer when you return to Canada. For more information, visit the CBSA webpage, I Declare: A guide for residents returning to Canada.

What you can bring on a plane

Passengers are generally not permitted to transport dangerous goods aboard aircraft, whether in carry-on luggage, in checked baggage or on their person. Certain goods, such as medicinal products, toiletry articles and alcoholic beverages (in retail packaging), may be allowed. Be especially aware of restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols packed in your carry-on luggage. Containers cannot exceed 100 ml and must fit into a single clear, closed, resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of one litre. Ask your airline or visit What you can bring on a plane to find out what you can and cannot take with you.


Taking precautions

Follow the same safety rules abroad as you would at home, only more so. In some countries, foreigners are specifically targeted, so always be careful. If you are the victim of a crime while you are travelling, call the local police and the nearest Government of Canada office abroad for guidance.

Here are some more recommendations:

  • Do not wander into unknown areas. Find out how safe they are before you go there.
  • Never leave your drinks unattended and never accept food or drink from strangers. They could be spiked with drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
  • Look up the phone number of the local police at your destination in the Travel Advice and Advisories and keep it with you.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers or cross borders with people you have just met.
  • Watch your luggage and handbags. Make sure the zippers are closed and keep them locked if possible.
  • Never take anything, even an envelope, across a border for someone else.
  • Do not carry large amounts of money or wear expensive jewellery in public.
  • Hide your valuables by using a money belt or a case with hidden sections.
  • Remember to stay in touch with your family and friends at home, particularly if you promised them that you would or if there is a crisis in the area where you a travelling. Consular officials receive thousands of calls every year from worried family members or friends who have not heard from a loved one travelling abroad.
  • Keep a separate record of your traveller’s cheques and credit cards.
  • Never carry your passport, travel tickets, identification documents, cash, credit cards and insurance papers together. If they are lost or stolen, you risk being left with no identification or money.
  • Think carefully about where you keep your valuables, passport and important documents. Check the Travel Advice and Advisories for your destination for information on common local scams and crime trends.

Foreign laws and customs

When you are travelling or living in a foreign country:

  • You must obey its laws and regulations. See the Travel Advice and Advisories for your destination.
  • Learn about the local way of life. Respect the country’s laws, religions, culture, class structure and economic conditions. Although you may not agree with some of its customs, traditions or cultural or other practices, remember that you are a visitor.
  • Respect local dress codes. In many countries, suitable clothing may be gender-specific and may even be legislated. Penalties for disobeying local laws can be severe.
  • Be especially respectful of religious sites, such as temples, mosques, churches and synagogues. Many are off limits to foreigners or people who are not members of that faith. Ask permission before taking photographs of religious artifacts, buildings or local people.
  • Never take photographs of military facilities, a harbour where naval vessels are docked or industries such as oil refineries. Your camera could be confiscated, and you could even be accused of spying.

If you are a Canadian victim of a serious violent crime in a foreign country, you may be eligible for emergency financial assistance through Justice Canada’s Victims Fund. For more information, visit Financial Assistance for Canadians Victimized Abroad or call the Victims Fund Manager at 1-888-606-5111.

Crime and punishment

Thousands of Canadians are in prison in foreign countries for a wide range of offences. The legal systems of other countries are often different from the Canadian justice system.

While in a foreign country, you must obey its laws and regulations. Your Canadian citizenship does not mean that you are excluded from local laws, and if you commit a crime, not being aware of the law is not an excuse.

If you find yourself in trouble, Canadian consular officials abroad can provide you with a list of lawyers and contact your family and friends. If there are undue delays or you are suffering from unfair treatment, they can ask for you to receive the same treatment as other detainees according to the standards of the country where you are detained. They cannot ask for special treatment for you, get you out of jail, or pay your fine.


It is illegal to have sexual relations with children everywhere. Most countries strongly enforce laws against the sexual exploitation of children. Canadians who are suspected of doing so at home or abroad can be charged under the Canadian Criminal Code. If you are convicted, you may face up to 14 years in prison. For more information, see Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime.

Judicial process

Never assume that another country’s legal system is the same as Canada’s. “Innocent until proven guilty” is not a universal value.

If you are suspected or accused of a crime, you may be detained for an unknown length of time without bail. In certain countries, you may not have a right to a lawyer or to a trial in your own language.

Some countries do not recognize or respect

  • religious freedom
  • freedom of association, speech or the press
  • differences in sexual orientation
  • gender equality

For instance, you may be charged just for being with a person who is suspected or found guilty of a crime.

Even if you are an innocent bystander at a political demonstration, you may be considered a participant and be rounded up with those involved.

If you are detained or arrested abroad and want the arresting authorities to notify Canadian consular officials, clearly ask them to contact the nearest Government of Canada  office abroad or Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa. Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, they must advise you of your right to contact a consular representative. They do not, however, have to inform a Government of Canada office abroad that you have been detained or arrested unless you ask them to do so.

For more information, see Arrest and detention.

Illegal drugs

Recreational drugs may be readily available in some countries, but buying, using, importing and exporting them are prohibited almost everywhere. If you buy and use drugs, even in countries where such practices are common, you can be charged, fined or end up with a long prison sentence.

True confessions: Canadians imprisoned abroad

Learn from the real-life stories of young Canadians imprisoned for drug-related offences abroad. Visit True confessions: Canadians imprisoned abroad.


Departure tax

In some countries you must pay a departure tax or service fee at the airport or point of departure. Make sure you set aside enough money in local funds to pay it. See the Travel Advice and Advisories for your destination for more information.

Declare everything

You must declare all goods you acquired while outside Canada, including purchases, gifts, prizes and awards that you are carrying with you or that are being shipped to you. You must declare goods purchased at a Canadian or foreign duty-free shop and any repairs or alterations you made to your vehicle, vessel or aircraft while you were out of the country. Keep your original receipts for possible inspection. If you are unsure whether you should declare an item, always declare it to the Border Services Officer.

For more information on laws, restrictions, entitlements and obligations that apply to Canadian residents returning to Canada within less than a year, visit I Declare: A guide for residents returning to Canada.

If you have any other questions about what you can bring home, contact the CBSA’s Border Information Service.

Duty- and tax-free personal exemptions

When you return to Canada, you may qualify for a personal exemption, depending on the length of time you were away. Your personal exemption allows you to bring goods of a certain value into Canada without paying duty and taxes. The exception is a special excise duty that may apply to certain tobacco products. See the Tobacco Products section, below.

If you are outside Canada for…your personal exemption is…with the following conditions:
Less than 24 hours Personal exemptions do not apply to same-day cross-border shoppers
24 hours or more Goods worth up to Can$200

Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are not included in this amount (details below)..

If you bring in goods worth more than Can$200, you cannot claim this exemption and must pay full duty and taxes on the total amount.

You must have the goods with you when you enter Canada.

48 hours or more Goods worth up to Can$800

You may include alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, within the prescribed limits (details below).

If you bring in goods worth more than Can$800, you must pay full duty and taxes on the amount over Can$800.

You must have the goods with you when you enter Canada.

7 days or more Goods worth up to Can$800

You must have any alcoholic beverages and tobacco products in your possession when you enter Canada, but other goods may follow you by other means (such as mail or courier). However, all goods must be reported to the CBSA when you arrive.

When calculating the number of days you have been outside of Canada, do not include the day you leave Canada, but do include the day you return.


If you have been away from Canada for 48 hours or more and you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can include limited quantities of alcoholic beverages (products with more than 0.5% alcohol by volume) in your personal exemption. You are allowed to bring back only one of the following maximum quantities of alcoholic beverages without paying duty or taxes:

  • up to 1.5 litres of wine (two 750-ml bottles);
  • up to 1.14 litres of alcoholic beverages (one large standard bottle of liquor); or
  • up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale (approximately 24 cans or bottles [355 ml each]).


If you have been away from Canada for 48 hours or more and you are 18 years old or over, you are allowed to bring all of the following amounts of cigars and stamped tobacco products into Canada without paying duty or taxes, within your personal exemption:

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars;
  • 200 grams of manufactured tobacco; and
  • 200 tobacco sticks.

Note: If you wish to import cigarettes, manufactured tobacco and tobacco sticks duty-free as part of your personal exemption, the packages must be stamped “duty paid Canada droit acquitté.” You will find tobacco products sold at duty-free stores marked this way.

Cigarettes, manufactured tobacco and tobacco sticks that are not marked “duty paid Canada droit acquitté” are subject to a special duty rate. For more information, check the tobacco products section at I Declare: A guide for residents returning to Canada.

Illegal souvenirs

Canadian law requires that you declare all foods, plants, animals and related products that you bring into Canada. If you do not declare these goods, they may be confiscated and you may face heavy fines or legal prosecution. If you are considering bringing back

  • meat, eggs, dairy products
  • fresh fruit or vegetables
  • plants, plant products such as articles made from wood, soil or related matter, or
  • animals or products made from their skins or feathers

Contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency beforehand for guidance – it could save you a lot of trouble. For accurate and timely information on import requirements, visit Travellers: What Can I Bring Into Canada? on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

For information on importing weapons, contact the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program.

Canadians may be prosecuted in Canadian courts for certain acts committed against significant cultural sites and objects outside Canada. In addition to foreign laws protecting cultural heritage, Canadian law now prohibits the illegal export of cultural objects from certain countries, whether or not the object is brought to Canada. For more information,visit Canadian Heritage.

A list of products banned in Canada due to safety hazards can be found on Health Canada’s Information for Canadians Travelling Outside of Canada page.

More than 35,000 species of animals and plants are regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If you do not get the proper permits before shipping or travelling with any CITES-listed species, your purchase could be seized and you may be liable to a fine or a prison term. Before travelling with an item, make sure it is not on the list and / or get a permit if it is. For more information, call 1-855-869-8670 (toll-free) or email

It may be illegal to bring home cultural property, such as antiques or fossils, whose sale or export is banned or controlled by the country of origin. You may be penalized, and the cultural property may be confiscated and returned to its country of origin. For more information, visit the Canadian Heritage Import of cultural property page or the embassy or consulate of your destination country.


If you are feeling ill and suspect that you may have been exposed to a contagious illness or disease while you were travelling, tell a screening officer or quarantine officer as you enter Canada. If you are a passenger aboard a ship, airplane, train or bus, you should alert the staff that you are ill.

If you become sick or feel unwell after returning to Canada, see your doctor. Tell the doctor, without being asked, that you have been travelling or living outside Canada and where you have been. Explain your travel history and what, if any, treatment or medical care you’ve received (e.g., blood transfusions, injections, dental care or surgery).


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Travel Advice and Advisories (free)

Our Travel Advice and Advisories provide vital information on safety and security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate for more than 200 travel destinations. This information is also available by phone:
1-800-267-6788 (in Canada and the U.S.) or 613-944-6788.

Government of Canada offices abroad

Outside Canada +1 613 996 8885 (call collect to Ottawa, where service is available)
Nearest Government of Canada office abroad (see
Register with us!
Within Canada (non-passport-related) 1-800-387-3124 (toll-free from Canada and the U.S. only)
613-996-8885 (call collect)
Emergency passport services within Canada (weekends and statutory holidays) 1-800-567-6868 (toll-free from Canada only)

(For persons with a hearing loss.)
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SMS +1-613-686-3658 (carrier charges may apply)
Online Complete an Emergency Contact Form at

Canada Border Services Agency

Border Information Service
Automated telephone service 24/7. Officers available Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 16:00 local time, except holidays.
1-800-461-9999 (toll-free in Canada)
1-204-983-3500 or 1-506-636-5064 (from outside Canada)
1-866-335-3237 TTY (in Canada)

Canada Revenue Agency

International tax and non-resident enquiries
1-800-959-8281 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.)
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time except holidays
+1 613 940 8497 (outside Canada and the U.S.; collect calls accepted)
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET except holidays

Canadian Automobile Association

*222 on mobile

Canadian Firearms Program

Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. nationwide.
1-800-731-4000 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.)
1-506-624-6626 (all countries outside Canada and the U.S.)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

National Import Service Centre
1-800-835-4486 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.) 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. ET
+1 289 247 4099 (local calls and all other countries)

Canadian Heritage

Movable Cultural Property Program
Hours of operation Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET
1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)

Canadian Public Health Association

Publications ($)
Travel Immunization Record
To order:

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

Passenger and baggage screening
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET
1-888-294-2202 (toll-free)

Canadian Transportation Agency

Air travel complaints
Fly Smart
Take Charge of Your Travel: Guide for persons with disabilities

Environment and Climate Change Canada

International trade in protected animals and plants
1-855-869-8670 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.)

Health Canada

Information for Canadians Travelling Outside of Canada

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. nationwide, holidays excepted
Automated telephone service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
1-888-242-2100 (toll-free in Canada only)

Justice Canada

Financial Assistance for Canadians Victimized Abroad

Passport Program

Passports, certificates of identity and travel documents
1-800-567-6868 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.)
+1 819 997 8338 (outside Canada and the U.S.)
TTD (for the hearing impaired):
1-866-255-7655 (toll-free in Canada and the U. S. from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET)
From outside Canada and the U.S.: +1 514 283 5197

Public Health Agency of Canada

Travel Health Notices
Travel Health and Safety
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Transport Canada

Transportation of Dangerous Goods (CANUTEC)
613-992-4624 (call collect)  or

Traveller's Checklist

A safe and trouble-free trip begins with these important steps:

  • Bring a copy of  Bon Voyage, But ... and check the Travel Advice and Advisories for your destination (
  • Consult a health-care provider or visit a travel medicine clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
  • Pack the app! Download the Travel Smart app (, your one-stop shop for international travel information and advice.
  • Follow the Facebook (@travelGoC) and Twitter (@travelGoC) accounts to stay in touch with Canada wherever you are.
  • Carry a Canadian passport that is valid well beyond the date of your anticipated return to Canada.
  • Obtain any required visas well in advance.
  • Leave copies of your itinerary and insurance policy with friends or family.
  • If travelling with children, carry documentation proving your right to accompany them (e.g., a consent letter or court document). Leave a copy of this documentation with friends or family as well.
  • Purchase travel insurance.
  • Plan your itinerary and budget and include extra funds in case of emergency.
  • Anticipate financial needs: local currency, traveller's cheques, departure tax.
  • Take care of health needs: vaccinations, prescription medication, medical certificates, supplies, extra eyeglasses, doctor's contact information.
  • If you or someone travelling with you has dual citizenship, check with the embassy or consulate of your destination country to make sure you avoid problems.
  • Sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service at
  • Carry an Emergency Contact Card with the coordinates of the nearest Government of Canada office in your destination country (see
  • Obtain an International Driving Permmit, if required.
  • Make sure you check the rules on baggage, documentation and airport security.
  • While abroad, keep receipts of your purchases and make special arrangements for any food, plants or animals you are bringing back to Canada.

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Published by Global Affairs Canada

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