Questions and Declarations at the Canadian Border

Canada and USA border

Every traveler arriving into a Canadian airport must meet Canada’s customs requirements and make a truthful declaration at the border. It is important for visitors to answer all questions in an honest manner and report goods such as food, plant and animal products.

To make the process as smooth and quick as possible, travelers are requested to have all documentation prepared for inspection, including the passport and valid Canadian eTA or visa.

Requirements differ depending on whether arrival is by air, land or sea. The following information explains what is necessary in each case.

Canadian Border Requirements When Arriving by Air

Passengers landing at one of Canada’s airports need to make a declaration in one of 2 ways: either using a Primary Inspection Kiosk or by filling out a Declaration Card.

The purpose of the declaration is to allow Canadian border authorities to certify the identity of each individual crossing the border and check items to be declared.

Primary Inspection Kiosks at Canadian airports

At the country’s busiest airports, Primary Inspection Kiosks are now available allowing travelers to confirm their identity and make their declaration electronically.

Primary Inspection Kiosks can be found at the following airports in Canada:

  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
  • Calgary International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport
  • Montreal-Trudeau International Airport
  • Ottawa International Airport
  • Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
  • Terminal 3 of Toronto Pearson International Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Winnipeg Richardson International Airport

The on-screen instructions guide users through the process. The declaration is completed by following these 5 steps:

  1. Scan the travel document e.g. passport
  2. Have a photograph taken
  3. Verify fingerprints
  4. Answer declaration questions
  5. Collect receipt and present to a border officer

Up to 5 people who share the same address can use the same kiosk.

A second inspection may then take place during which an officer can double-check documentation, ask additional questions about the visit and examine luggage and/or devices.

Completing a Canadian Declaration Card

When arriving at an airport that is not equipped with Primary Inspection Kiosks, passengers will be required to fill in a Declaration Card whilst onboard the plane.

The Declaration Card (E311) is handed to passengers whilst on the aircraft, it’s useful to carry a pen to speed up the process. Up to 4 people can be included on the same form provided they live at the same address.

What Questions Are Asked at the Canadian Border

Whether making the declaration at a Primary Inspection Kiosk or completing the E311 Declaration Card, some personal details and other information, including the reason for the visit, have to be provided. Block capitals should be used.

Part A of the declaration requires each traveler registered at the same address to state their:

  • First and last name plus initials
  • Date of birth
  • Citizenship

The address shared by these individuals is also provided here.

Other information requested in part A includes;

  • Means of arrival (air, rail, sea, highway) plus the airline/flight number or vessel name where relevant
  • Purpose of the trip: study, personal or business reasons
  • Where arriving from: the U.S., direct from a country other than the U.S., another country via the U.S.

This is the first filter to access Canada to verify that your home country is not one that has travel restrictions.

The final section of part A is the declaration of goods:

  • Firearms or other weapons such as switchblades or pepper spray.
  • Commercial goods, for resale or not.
  • Meat/meat products: dairy products; fruit; vegetables, seeds, nuts, plants and animals/animal products, cut flowers, soil, wood/wood products, birds, insects.
  • Currency and/or monetary instruments totaling CAN $10,000 or over.
  • I/we have visited a farm and will be going to a farm in Canada. (yes/no)
  • I/we have unaccompanied goods. (yes/no)

Part B is only for visitors to Canada who must state the duration of their stay in days and whether or not any of the people included on the declaration exceed the duty-free allowance.

Finally, each traveler should confirm the data they have supplied is truthful by signing and dating the declaration.

How does the CBSA use my information?

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) uses the data provided to help control movement over the border. This information may also be shared with other government departments if deemed necessary in the enforcement of Canadian laws.

It is paramount that all parts of the declaration are completed accurately. Failure to do so may result in goods being seized, fines or even criminal prosecution.

Duty-Free Allowance for Visitors Entering Canada

Non- residents are entitled to bring the following into Canada:

  • Gifts (not including alcohol or tobacco) with a value under CAN $60 each
  • 1.5 liters of wine or 1.14 liters of liquor or 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles (8.5 L) of beer/ale
  • 200 cigarettes, 200 tobacco sticks, 50 cigars/cigarillos plus 0.4 pounds (200 grams) of manufactured tobacco

Any traveler exceeding these amounts must make it known in the relevant section of the Declaration Card.

Customs Requirements When Arriving by Land or Sea

When crossing the U.S.-Canada land border, travelers report to Primary Inspection where they have their documents verified and make an oral declaration.

Anyone arriving by private boat should call to get CBSA clearance.

Other Requirements for Crossing the Canadian Border

In addition to making a truthful declaration, foreign nationals must present either a valid temporary resident visa or Canadian eTA order to cross the border, together with the passport.

Like the declaration, the Canadian eTA is a way for the Canadian authorities to control who crosses the border and is needed by citizens of 60 visa-exempt countries.

Whilst a new Declaration Card is issued each time a traveler arrives in Canada, the eTA is multiple-entry meaning that the same document can be used for many trips within the 5-year validity period (or until the associated passport expires).

It is also important to note that, whilst one Declaration Card can be completed for all those living at the same address, a separate eTA application for Canada must be obtained by each person, including children.

Apply for Canada eTA