canada custom requirements

Navigating Canada’s Customs Requirements

Crossing the border into any country as a foreign tourist requires following the correct customs and security rules and Canada is no exception. As with any foreign trip, visitors planning a vacation to the country should come ready to adhere to Canada’s customs requirements and carrying the right identity documents.

Of course, every country has different rules. If you’re unsure what you should and shouldn’t bring to the Canadian border and what Canada customs border crossings entry requirements apply to you the following article will provide a guide to what is and isn’t permissible.

What Should You Bring to the Canadian Border?

When entering Canada via an airport or when driving across the US border you will need to bring identifying documents and authorization to enter the country. In the case of foreign tourists these will include:

  • A passport with more than 6 months validity remaining
  • A valid Canada eTA

Foreigners living in the US with Green Cards must also adhere to these rules, however, US citizens are visa-exempt. US citizens may enter Canada with an official identifying document such as a passport, birth certificate or if they are a member of the NEXUS or FAST program an applicable membership ID card.

What Items Should You Declare at Canada’s Border?

Like most countries, you will not need to declare personal items in your luggage for use during your vacation in Canada. The items considered personal luggage and therefore free from the restrictions include:

  • Clothing
  • Cameras
  • Personal computers
  • Camping and sports equipment
  • Any vehicles you use to enter and leave the country in

However, there are numerous personal articles that should be declared to the Canadian Border Service Officials (BSO) when passing through national customs. Items that should be declared on arrival into the country include:

  • Goods to be bought and sold in Canada
  • All food items
  • Firearms
  • Fireworks and other explosives
  • Plants, animals or other organic items
  • Alcohol and tobacco above personal allowance volumes

How Much Alcohol Can I Bring to Canada

People visiting Canada are entitled to a personal allowance of alcohol. However, larger quantities must be inspected and duty applied as necessary. You must also be old enough to consume alcoholic beverages (18 years old) in order to bring these times into the country. To check that your luggage complies with Canadian customs regulations be sure to follow these guidelines:

Item Maximum allowance
Wine 1.5l (approximately 2 750ml bottles)
Spirits 1.4l (approximately 1 standard bottle of liquor)
Beer or ale 8.5l (around 24 355ml cans of bottles)

How Much Tobacco May I Bring to Canada Without Paying Tax?

Like alcohol, a personal allowance of tobacco is permitted duty-free for travelers over the age of 18. However, there are some restrictions for passengers arriving with larger quantities of tobacco. In the cases of both stamped and unstamped tobacco products these are as follows:

Item Maximum allowance
Cigarettes 200 cigarettes
Cigars 50 cigars
Loose tobacco 200g
Tobacco sticks 200 tobacco sticks

Can You Bring Food into Canada?

Yes, food items can be brought into Canada but they must be always declared to the BSOs on arrival. Certain food items are prohibited from entry into the country due to potential damage to the nation’s ecosystem and therefore all food must be checked to ensure it meets the required standards. Food that may be brought into the country from the abroad includes:

  • Baked goods (mustn’t contain meat)
  • Candy (up to 20kg per person)
  • Cheese (up to 20kg per person)
  • Fish and seafood (set limits apply)
  • Dried, canned or fresh fruit and vegetables (up to 20kg per person)
  • Herbs, spices, and condiments
  • Coffee
  • Meat (up to 20kg and must be cooked and commercially sealed)

Prohibited Food and Drink at the Canadian Border

Whilst food may be brought across the border into the country, Canadian customs food regulations prohibit certain foods from entering the nation. These items include:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Pufferfish
  • Chinese mitten crab
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables in or covered in their original growing medium
  • Raw meat

Monetary Restrictions when Entering Canada

When entering Canada, you must declare any money amounting to over CAN$10,000 in your possession as you pass through customs. The monetary instruments this restriction applies to includes:

  • Cash
  • Cheques
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Traveler’s cheques
  • Bank drafts

Restricted and Prohibited Items at the Canadian Border

Canada’s customs restrictions require dangerous items or articles that could harm the country’s ecology must always be declared on arrival. In many cases, these items can be brought into the country with the right paperwork or subject to inspection from a BSO. The restricted items that must always be declared include:

  • Firearms
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Consumer products not conforming to Canadian safety standards
  • Explosives
  • Fireworks

Whilst Canada’s border crossing process is seen as being less strict compared to the USA’s the nation’s customs rules and regulations must still be respected on entry. By following the customs and other travel restrictions in Canada effectively and coming prepared with a valid passport and Canadian eTA travelers will find crossing the border into Canada a very simple process.


Apply for Canadian eTA