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Canada

I Declare

A customs guide for Canadian residents returning to Canada

This pamphlet is an overview of the laws, restrictions, entitlements, rights, and obligations of Canadian residents returning from travel outside Canada. Legislation takes precedence and you should consult it for exact information. The information in this publication was accurate when it was published. However, legislative provisions and requirements can change at any time. We make every effort to provide timely updates.

La version française de cette publication est intitulée Je déclare.

Serving Canadians

The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is at Canada's entry points to help you when you return from abroad. In carrying out our responsibilities, we are committed to giving efficient, courteous service. At designated bilingual offices we will serve you in the official language of your choice. Our customs officers want to make your return to the country as pleasant and problem-free as possible.

Our presence at the border helps to monitor and control the movement of people and goods into Canada. We stop goods that could threaten our health, environment, and agriculture, as well as prohibited goods such as drugs, firearms, and pornography. Also, we watch for missing children and runaways.

In this pamphlet, you'll find information to help make your return to Canada enjoyable and problem-free. If you would like more detailed information, please call our Automated Customs Information Service at 1-800-461-9999.

Crime Stoppers is a national organization dedicated to serving Canadians by making it possible for those who have information about a crime to contact police and stay anonymous. If you have any information that could lead to solving a crime, please call:

Crime Stoppers / Échec au crime
1-800-222-TIPS
1-800-222-8477

Table of contents

Is this pamphlet for you?

Before you leave

Restrictions

Personal exemptions

Paying duties

What to expect when you return to Canada

Need more information?

Comments or suggestions

Is this pamphlet for you?

If you are a Canadian resident intending to travel abroad or returning home after travelling to another country for any length of time, you may find this pamphlet helpful. We have included information you should know about government requirements for travellers re-entering Canada.

Before you leave

To avoid problems and delays in clearing customs when you return, there are several things you can do before you leave.

Identification

Make sure you carry proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you, including any documents the country you intend to visit requires, such as passports, birth certificates, and visas. Proper identification includes birth certificates, baptismal certificates, passports, citizenship cards, records of landing, and certificates of Indian status. These will help prove your citizenship and residency when you return to Canada.

Parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should arrive at the border in the same vehicle as the children.

Adults who are not parents or guardians should have the children's identification as well as written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. The permission letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or guardians can be reached.

Our customs officers watch for missing children and may ask detailed questions about the children who are travelling with you.

Protecting your valuables

Before travelling abroad with valuable items, you can take advantage of a free identification procedure at any of our customs offices. This service is available for items that have serial numbers or other unique markings. For items that do not have such markings, we can apply a sticker to give them a serial number.

When you show your valuables to the customs officer and state that you got them in Canada or lawfully imported them, the officer will list your valuables and their serial numbers on a wallet-sized card. If you are questioned about your goods when you return to Canada, simply show your card to the customs officer. This will help identify the valuables that were in your possession before leaving the country.

Jewellery

Because jewellery often has significant value and can be difficult to identify, we cannot list it on this card. We suggest that you travel with as little jewellery as possible. Taking the following steps before you leave Canada will make it easier for you to re-enter the country with jewellery.

  • Get an appraisal report from a gemologist, jeweller, or insurance agent, as well as a signed and dated photograph.

  • Get written certification that the items or jewellery in the photograph are the ones described in the appraisal report.

  • Carry the appraisal report, the certified photograph, and a copy of the bill of sale when travelling abroad. If you imported the goods previously, make sure you have a copy of your customs receipt.

Modifying an item outside Canada

Under customs law, if you take any item outside Canada and change it in any way or make it more valuable, we do not consider it to be the same item when you bring it back into the country. You have to declare the full value of the new item.

Example

You take an old diamond ring with you on a trip outside Canada. While abroad, you replace the diamond. When you return to Canada, we consider the whole ring to be new.

Even if part of the ring is made from Canadian material, we have to treat the ring like any other piece of jewellery you got outside the country. This rule applies unless you have previous authorization from us to have those repairs or alterations made abroad.

Repairs or modifications to your vehicle

If you intend to have repairs or modifications made to your vehicle outside Canada, check with us before you leave. Under customs law, we can no longer consider your vehicle, vessel, or aircraft to be Canadian if you increase its value, improve its condition, or modify it while abroad. As a result, you may have to pay duties on its entire value when you bring it back.

Repairs or alterations to vehicles, aircraft, or vessels carried out in the United States, Mexico, Chile, or Israel will be free of customs duty when the vehicles are exported to these countries for the declared purpose of repair or alteration. Goods and services tax (GST) or harmonized sales tax (HST) will apply to the value of the repair or alteration.

You can have incidental minor repairs made or parts replaced while you are travelling abroad to maintain your vehicle in an operating condition. Although these minor modifications do not make the whole vehicle subject to assessment, you may still have to pay duty on the repairs and parts.

If you had to make repairs or get replacement parts to ensure the safe return of your vehicle to Canada, we may be able to apply a special provision that waives any duty payable. Be sure to declare the value of all repairs and replacement parts when you return from abroad.

Transport Canada also has requirements for vehicles that are extensively modified. For more information, contact them at: 1-800-333-0371.

For your health and safety

Some of the places you plan to visit or pass through may be plagued by cholera, yellow fever, or malaria. Before you leave to travel abroad, find out what vaccinations and medications you might need. You can get this information from your federal, provincial, or territorial health officer, or you can contact:

Health Canada
Ottawa ON  K1A 0K9

Telephone: (613) 957-2991
Fax: (613) 941-5366
Internet:www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Restrictions

The following are some of the goods that are restricted in Canada. Make sure you have the information you need about these items before you try to bring them into the country.

Firearms

Before you carry a firearm into another country or bring one back to Canada, be sure to contact the Canadian Firearms Centre to find out what documents you need. They can be reached by calling 1-800-731-4000 from anywhere in Canada and the United States, or (506) 624-5380 from outside Canada and the United States, or by going to www.cfc.gc.ca.

If you are planning to get a firearm while you are abroad, you should read the pamphlet called Importing a Firearm or Weapon Into Canada. You can get a copy from any of our customs offices or by calling our National Distribution Centre at
1-800-959-2221.

Replica firearms

Replica firearms are designed or intended to exactly resemble a firearm with near precision. You should be aware that replica firearms are classified as prohibited devices and you cannot import them into Canada.

Explosives, fireworks, and ammunition

You need authorization to bring explosives, fireworks, and some types of ammunition into Canada. You may also need a permit to bring such items into the country. For more information, contact:

Explosives Regulatory Division
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street
Ottawa ON  K1A 0E4

Telephone: (613) 995-8415
Internet: www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms/explosif

Vehicles

To be eligible for importing into Canada, vehicles have to meet customs and Transport Canada requirements.

Customs restrictions

Under customs law, import restrictions apply to most used or second-hand vehicles that are not manufactured in the current year.

To find out about customs restrictions and the exceptions that apply, read our pamphlet called Importing a Vehicle Into Canada. You can get a copy from any of our customs offices or by calling our National Distribution Centre at 1-800-959-2221.

United States

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), customs restrictions do not apply to vehicles imported from the United States, as long as they meet certain conditions. In addition, vehicles that qualify for the United States tariff rate are duty-free. Excise tax and goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) still apply.

Mexico

Under NAFTA, customs restrictions still apply to vehicles imported from Mexico.

The duty rate on vehicles that qualify for the Mexico tariff rate began to drop on January 1, 1994. The rate will continue to drop each year until 2003, when vehicles become duty-free. Excise taxes and GST/HST still apply in the usual way.

Transport Canada restrictions

Transport Canada restrictions apply to vehicles that are less than 15 years old, and to buses built on or after January 1, 1971. If you're thinking about importing such a vehicle, be sure that it meets the Transport Canada import requirements or that it can be modified to meet their requirements after you import it. Not all vehicles from the United States can be imported into Canada.

Note
You usually cannot import vehicles sold in countries other than the United States into Canada.

If you've acquired a vehicle from the United States, you can find out if your vehicle can be imported by contacting:

Registrar of Imported Vehicles
405 The West Mall
Toronto ON  M9C 5K7

Telephone: (416) 626-1803
1-888-848-8240 (toll free from Canada and the United States)
Fax: 1-888-346-8235
Internet:www.riv.ca

If you've acquired a vehicle from a country other than the United States, contact:

Road Safety and Motor
Vehicle Regulation Directorate
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa ON  K1A 0N5

Telephone: (613) 998-8616
1-800-333-0371 (toll free from
Canada and the United States)
Fax: (613) 998-4831
Internet:www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety

Remember that Transport Canada defines a vehicle as any vehicle that is capable of being driven or drawn on roads, by any means other than muscular power exclusively, but does not run exclusively on rails. Trailers such as recreational, camping, boat, horse, and stock trailers are considered vehicles, as are wood chippers, generators, and any other equipment mounted on rims and tires. Before importing your vehicle, call Transport Canada to determine if the vehicle qualifies for importing. Finally, if your vehicle meets both customs and Transport Canada requirements, it may also be subject to provincial or territorial taxes. If you need more information, contact the motor-vehicle authority in your province or territory.

Restrictions on temporary importing

If you buy, lease, rent, or borrow a vehicle while abroad, customs law does not allow you to bring it into Canada for your personal use, even temporarily, unless it meets all the requirements and you pay the duties and federal taxes that apply. However, in the case of a one-way rental, you can go to the authorized rental agent closest to your destination in Canada to drop off the vehicle.

Goods subject to import controls

To monitor the effects of imports on Canadian manufacturers, there are import controls on items such as clothing, handbags, and textiles. These controls are outlined in the Export and Import Permits Act. Depending on the value, the quantity, or the type of goods you intend to import, you may need an import permit even if you qualify for a personal exemption. For more information, contact any of our customs offices or:

Export and Import Controls Bureau
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
P.O. Box 481, Station A
Ottawa ON  K1N 9K6
Internet:www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/~eicb

Restrictions and duty on food products

Meat, eggs, and dairy products

Canada has complex requirements, restrictions, and limits that apply to importing meat, eggs, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, and other food from around the world. You can avoid problems by not bringing such goods into Canada.

You can import some meat and dairy products from the United States. There are limits on the quantity or dollar value of certain food products you can bring into Canada free of duty, or that you can include in your personal exemption. If you bring in quantities of these products over and above the limits, you will have to pay a high rate of duty (from 150% to 300%). You may also need an agricultural inspection certificate.

The following are some examples of the limits that apply to each person:

  • two dozen eggs;

  • $20 worth of dairy products (for example, cheese and butter);

  • three kilograms of margarine; and

  • 20 kilograms of meat and meat products, including turkey and chicken. Within the 20-kilogram limit, more restrictions apply as follows:

- a maximum of one whole turkey or 10 kilograms of turkey products; and

- a maximum of 10 kilograms of chicken.

Note
All meat and meat products have to be identified as products of the United States.

Animals, plants, and their products

To protect plants and animals from pests and disease, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has controls, restrictions, and prohibitions on the entry of plants, animals, and their products, including food. To import some of these goods you will need certificates or permits. Many goods do not need mandatory inspection by the CFIA, but if the goods you are importing need to be inspected, you may have to pay a fee. In some cases, customs officers collect fees for the CFIA.

If you plan to import agricultural, forestry, or food items, contact one of the following CFIA Import Service Centres (ISCs) for information before you leave. ISC staff handle all enquiries about import requirements for all commodities regulated and inspected by the CFIA. There are three ISCs:

Eastern ISC (Montréal)

Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
Telephone: 1-877-493-0468 (toll free from Canada and the United States); or
(514) 493-0468 (from all other locations)
Fax: (514) 493-4103

Central ISC (Toronto)

Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
Telephone: 1-800-835-4486 (toll free from Canada and the United States); or
(905) 612-6285 (from all other locations)
Fax: (905) 612-6280

Western ISC (Vancouver)

Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Pacific time)
Telephone: 1-888-732-6222 (toll free from Canada and the United States); or
(604) 666-7042 (from all other locations)
Fax: (604) 541-3373

You can also get information from the CFIA Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Endangered species

Canada has signed an international agreement that protects species of animals and plants that are or may be threatened with extinction by regulating their international trade. These restrictions extend to their parts and to products made from the fur, skin, feathers, bone, or other parts of these species.

You should find out in advance what goods you can bring back to Canada by contacting:

CITES Administrator
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Ottawa ON K1A 0H3

Telephone: (819) 997-1840
Internet:www.cites.ec.gc.ca

Cultural property

Certain antiquities 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:

Movable Cultural Property
Canadian Heritage
3rd floor
15 Eddy Street
Hull QC K1A 0M5

Telephone: (819) 997-7761
Fax: (819) 997-7757
Internet: www.pch.gc.ca/arts/heritage/mcp_e.htm

Personal exemptions

When you return to Canada, you may qualify for a personal exemption. Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying the regular duties. However, a minimum duty may apply to some tobacco products.

The term duties can include excise taxes, and goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST). It does not include provincial or territorial sales tax. However, we have working agreements with some provinces and territories that allow us to collect provincial and territorial tax, levies, and fees on goods that are more than your personal exemption.

If you reside in one of the provinces that has a working agreement and you return to Canada through your province, you will be subject to the provincial assessment on goods over your personal exemption. If you bring in more than the free allowance of alcohol, you will have to pay the provincial assessment for the province where you enter Canada, even if it is not your province of residence.

The federal government has agreements with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland to collect HST at a rate of 15%. If you live in a participating province, and the value of the non-commercial goods you import is more than your personal exemption, you have to pay HST instead of GST regardless of where you enter Canada.

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

To find out if the goods you are bringing back are worth more than your personal exemption, convert foreign-currency values and any foreign sales taxes you paid to Canadian dollars at the appropriate rate of exchange.

What are your personal exemptions?

After each absence of 24 hours or more

You can claim up to CAN$50 worth of goods without paying any duties. This is your personal exemption. You must have the goods with you when you arrive and you cannot include tobacco products or alcohol beverages in this exemption.

If the goods you bring in are worth more than CAN$50 in total, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead, you have to pay full duties on all goods you bring in.

After each absence of 48 hours or more

You can claim up to CAN$200 worth of goods without paying any duties. You must have the goods with you when you arrive. Although you can include some alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, only a partial exemption will apply to cigarettes, tobacco sticks, or loose tobacco. You may have to pay a minimum duty on these products. You can find more details on the next page under "Tobacco and alcohol."

After each absence of seven days or more

You can claim up to CAN$750 worth of goods without paying any duties. With the exception of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, you do not need to have the goods with you when you arrive. Although you can include some alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, only a partial exemption will apply to cigarettes, tobacco sticks, and loose tobacco. You may have to pay a minimum duty on these products.

To calculate the number of days you have been absent, do not include the date you leave Canada but include the date you return. It is dates that matter, not times. For example, we consider you to have been absent seven days if you left Friday the 7th and returned Friday the 14th.

Who is eligible for these exemptions?

You are eligible for a personal exemption if you are a:

  • Canadian resident returning from a trip abroad;

  • former resident of Canada returning to live in this country; or

  • temporary resident of Canada returning from a trip abroad.

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

Do you spend part of the year outside Canada?

If you spend part of the year in another country for health reasons or pleasure, that country usually considers you to be a visitor. As such, you are still a resident of Canada for customs purposes. This means you are entitled to the same exemptions as other Canadians. When you import foreign goods or vehicles for your personal use in Canada (even temporarily), you have to meet all the import requirements and pay all the duties you owe.

What conditions apply to your personal exemptions?

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

In addition, you cannot combine your 48-hour (CAN$200) with your 7-day (CAN$750) exemption for a total exemption of CAN$950.

In general, the goods you include in your personal exemption have to be for your personal or household use, souvenirs of your trip, or gifts. Goods you bring in for commercial use, or for another person, do not qualify for the exemption and are subject to full duties. In all cases, goods you include in your CAN$50 or CAN$200 exemption have to be with you.

Except for alcohol and tobacco, goods you claim in your CAN$750 exemption may precede or follow you by mail or other means.

Tobacco and alcohol

You can include alcoholic beverages and tobacco products in your 48-hour (CAN$200) or your 7-day (CAN$750) exemption, but not in your 24-hour (CAN$50) exemption. All tobacco products and alcoholic beverages have to accompany you in your hand or checked luggage.

The following conditions apply:

  • Tobacco products

If you meet the age requirements set by the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can include up to:

- 200 cigarettes;

- 50 cigars or cigarillos;

- 200 tobacco sticks; and

- 200 grams of manufactured tobacco.

However, as of October 1, 2001, if you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks, or loose tobacco in your personal exemption allowance, only a partial exemption will apply. You will have to pay a minimum duty on these products unless they are marked "CANADA-DUTY PAID · DROIT ACQUITTÉ". You will find Canadian-made products sold at a duty-free shop marked this way. You can speed up your clearance by having your tobacco products available for inspection when you arrive.

If you bring in more than your exemption allowance, you will have to pay regular assessments on the excess amount. These regular assessments can include duties, taxes, and provincial or territorial fees. The customs officers will give an allowance for products that are marked when they calculate the amounts owing.

  • Alcoholic beverages

If you meet the age requirements set by the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can include one of the following:

- 1.5 litres of wine;

- 1.14 litres (40 oz.) of liquor; or

- 24 × 355 ml cans/bottles (8.5 litres) of beer or ale.

You can bring in more than the free allowance of alcohol except in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. However, the quantities have to be within the limit the province or territory sets and, in most cases, you have to bring the quantities with you.

If you bring in more than the free allowance, you will have to pay both customs and provincial or territorial assessments. For more information, check with the appropriate provincial or territorial liquor control authority before you leave Canada.

Notes

We classify coolers according to the type of alcohol they contain. For example, we consider beer coolers to be beer and wine coolers to be wine, and apply the quantity limits accordingly.

We do not classify beer or wine that contains 0.5% alcohol by volume or less as an alcoholic beverage. As a result, no quantity limit applies.

Gifts

While you are abroad, you can send gifts free of duties to friends in Canada under certain conditions. To qualify, each gift has to be worth CAN$60 or less and cannot be an alcoholic beverage, a tobacco product, or advertising matter. If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, the recipient will have to pay regular duties on the excess amount.

It is always a good idea to include a gift card to avoid any misunderstanding. While gifts you send from abroad do not count as part of your personal exemption, gifts you bring back do.

Prizes and awards

In most cases, you have to pay regular duties on prizes and awards you receive outside Canada. For more information, contact any of our customs offices.

Paying duties

Making a full declaration and paying any duties and taxes you owe is a simple, straightforward process. You can pay by cash, traveller's cheque, VISA, American Express, or MasterCard. We also accept debit cards at most offices. If an amount is not more than CAN$2,500, you can sometimes pay by personal cheque. A customs inspector will give you a receipt showing the calculations and amounts you paid.

Special duty rate

After each trip abroad of 48 hours or longer, you are entitled to a special duty rate. The rate applies to goods worth up to CAN$300 more than your personal exemption of CAN$200 or CAN$750, that do not qualify for duty-free entry under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This rate applies only to goods that come with you, and does not apply to alcohol or tobacco products. The special duty rate is 7% under the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff treatment. You still have to pay any GST/HST that applies. In some provinces we also collect provincial sales tax.

Regular duty rate

If you do not qualify for a personal exemption, or if you exceed your exemption limit, you will have to pay GST/HST, as well as any duty or other tax or assessment that applies on the excess amount. Duty rates vary according to the goods you are importing, the country where the goods were made, and the country from which you are importing them. You may also have to pay provincial sales tax if you live in a province where we have an agreement to collect the tax and you return from your trip through your province.

How goods qualify under NAFTA

Your goods qualify for the U.S. duty-free rate under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) if they are:

  • for personal use; and

  • marked as made in the United States or Canada; or

  • not marked or labeled to indicate that they were made anywhere other than in the United States or Canada.

Your goods qualify for the lower Mexican duty rate in a similar way.

If you would like more information on goods eligible under NAFTA, visit us at www.ccra.gc.ca and look for Memorandum D11-4-13, Rules of Origin for Casual Goods Regulations, under customs technical publications or contact one of our customs offices and ask for a copy.

World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement

The duty on a wide range of products originating in non-NAFTA countries has been cut or will be reduced to zero over the next few years. NAFTA goods also qualify for the WTO agreement rate. If the duty rate payable on the goods you are importing is lower under the WTO agreement than under NAFTA, customs officers automatically assess the lower rate.

Value for duty and foreign sales tax

Value for duty is sometimes called customs value. It is the amount we use to calculate duty on your goods, and is generally based on the price you paid for the goods.

In most cases, we consider any foreign sales tax added to, or included in the price, to be part of the value. However, some foreign governments will refund sales tax to you if you export the items you bought. In such cases, you do not have to include the amount of the foreign sales tax that was or will be refunded to you.

What to expect when you return to Canada

When you return to Canada, you have to declare all of the goods that you got abroad such as purchases, gifts, prizes, or awards that you are bringing with you, or having shipped to you. Include goods still in your possession that you bought at a Canadian or foreign duty-free shop. As well, make sure you declare any repairs or modifications you made to your vehicle, vessel, or aircraft while you were out of the country.

If you aren't sure if an article is admissible or should be declared, always declare it first and then ask the customs officer. Remember that customs officers are there to help you and will work out your personal exemption and any duties you owe in the way that benefits you most.

Your rights

We want to make your experience of returning to Canada as pleasant as possible. If you have any difficulties with the customs process, we want to resolve them quickly. Please ask to speak to the superintendent on duty. In many cases, the superintendent will be able to resolve your concerns at once

Making your declaration

If you are returning to Canada by commercial aircraft, you will receive a customs declaration card to complete before you arrive.

These cards are also used at some locations for travellers arriving by rail, vessel, or bus. If you have any questions about the card or Canadian regulations, please ask the customs officer when you arrive.

If you arrive in Canada in a private vehicle such as an automobile, aircraft, or bus, you can usually make an oral declaration.

If you are declaring goods claimed as part of your CAN$750 exemption that preceded or will follow your arrival in Canada, ask the customs officer for Form E24, Personal Exemption Customs Declaration. You will need your copy of the form to claim these goods. Otherwise, you may have to pay the regular duties on them.

Customs services

We have areas at most major airports where you can pay any duties or taxes you owe while waiting for your baggage to arrive. If you want to claim more than your exemption limit, or if you have something to declare, follow the red signs to the declaration area. If you are within your exemption limit and have nothing to declare, follow the green signs to an exit.

In co-operation with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, we have introduced the CANPASS program to streamline customs and immigration clearance for low-risk travellers. CANPASS participants arriving by either private aircraft or private boat report by telephone before leaving the United States. Any duties or taxes they owe are billed to their credit cards. We have also introduced the CANPASS - Highway program at selected land borders across Canada. Participants using the CANPASS lane declare their goods on a special declaration card. Any duties or taxes they owe are billed to their credit cards.

You and the customs officer

You may occasionally find yourself going through a more detailed customs procedure. In some cases, this simply means that you may have to complete a form. In other cases, a customs officer will need to identify the goods you are bringing into the country or examine your luggage.

If you are travelling with children, do not be surprised if our officers talk to them, or ask you questions about them. Keep in mind that they are looking for missing children.

You should also know that our officers are legally entitled to examine your luggage as part of their responsibility to protect Canada's safety, economy, and environment. You are responsible for opening, unpacking, and repacking your luggage. We appreciate your co-operation.

By making your goods easily accessible for inspection and having your receipts handy, you will be helping us to help you. It is a good idea to keep all your receipts for accommodations and purchases, and for repairs done or parts you bought for your vehicle. We may ask to see them as evidence of the length of your stay and the value of the goods or repairs.

If you disagree with the amount of duties and taxes that you had to pay, please ask to speak with the superintendent on duty. A consultation can often resolve the issue quickly and without cost. If you are still not satisfied, our officers can tell you how to make a formal appeal.

False declarations and the seizure of goods

If you do not declare goods, or if you falsely declare them, we can seize the goods. This means that you may lose the goods permanently, or that you may have to pay to get them back.

Depending on the type of goods and the circumstances involved, we may impose a penalty that ranges from 25% to 80% of the goods' value.

The law also allows us to seize vehicles you use to unlawfully import goods. When this happens, we impose a penalty you have to pay before we return the vehicle. We usually seize commodities such as alcohol and tobacco products outright when they are not properly declared, and you cannot get them back.

We keep a record of infractions in our computer system that can influence the customs inspection process. If you have an infraction record, you may have to undergo a more detailed customs examination on future trips.

If you have had your goods seized and disagree with the action taken, you can appeal. To do this, you should write a letter to us within 30 days of the date of the seizure, to tell us you want to appeal. You can send the letter to any of our customs offices. You can find more information about the appeal process on the front of your seizure receipt form.

Claiming unaccompanied goods

When goods arrive that preceded or followed your arrival in Canada, you have 40 days to claim them by producing your copy of Form E24, Personal Exemption Customs Declaration. This is the form you had to complete when you returned from abroad.

The carrier who delivers the goods will ask you to pay the duties that apply, along with a processing fee. You then have two options. You can:

  • accept delivery by paying the amount owing and then file a claim with us for a refund; or

  • refuse to accept delivery.

Postal importing

If you refuse delivery, the carrier will return the package to us and ask you for a telephone number where we can reach you to discuss the assessment. The carrier will give you a copy of the assessment notice for your reference. Once we have determined that the goods are eligible for free importing as declared on your Form E24, we will release them for delivery to you without an assessment.

Courier importing

If you refuse delivery, the courier company will hold the package until you have personally cleared the goods through customs. We will determine if the goods are eligible for free importing as declared on your Form E24. Once you receive proof of release from customs, you should provide this proof to the courier company to release the package to you.

Exchanging goods

If you have to replace any of the goods you brought in under your personal exemption, and you want to avoid paying more duty, you have 60 days from the date you imported them to do so. Contact us for advice on how to do this.

Need more information?

To find out the duty rate of an article, or to learn more about your rights and responsibilities under customs law, contact our Automated Customs Information Service (ACIS).

ACIS is a computerized 24-hour telephone service that automatically answers all incoming calls and provides general customs information. You can use a touch-tone telephone to hear the recorded information in either official language. If you call during office hours, you can also speak directly to an agent if you need more specific information.

If you use a rotary-dial telephone, you cannot hear the ACIS message. However, if you call during office hours, your call will be transferred directly to an agent.

You can access ACIS free of charge throughout Canada by calling:
1-800-461-9999.

If you are calling from outside of Canada, you can access ACIS by calling
(204) 983-3500 or (506) 636-5064. Long distance charges will apply.

Comments or suggestions

If you have comments or suggestions, we would like to hear from you. Please write or fax us at:

Travellers Division
Operational Policy and Coordination Directorate
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Sir Richard Scott Building
191 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1A 0L5

Fax: (613) 954-4570

 
 Web site designed and maintained by Yaser Kherdaji
Toronto - Canada
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