Visiting Canada

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Have proper identification

Make sure you carry prop er identification for yourself and any children travelling with you to assist in confirming your legal right or authorization to enter Canada upon your arrival.

Identification for international visitors

The Government of Canada requires that all travellers carry a valid passport because it is the only reliable and universally-accepted travel and identification document for the purpose of international travel.

International transportation companies such as airlines may require travellers to present a passport. Therefore, travellers may face delays or may not be allowed to board the aircraft or other mode of transportation, if they present other documents.

When you enter Canada, a border services officer may ask to see your passport and a valid visa (if you are arriving from a country for which one is required). We remind all travellers you must carry proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization or a Certificate of Indian Status along with photo identification.

For more information, consult Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents.

Travelling with minors

Border services officers watch for missing children, and may ask detailed questions about any minors travelling with you.

We recommend that parents who share custody of their children carry copies of their legal custody documents, such as custody rights. If you share custody and the other parent is not travelling with you, or if you are not the parent or legal guardian, we recommend you carry a consent letter to provide authorization for you to take them on a trip and enter Canada.

A consent letter must include the custodial parents’ or legal guardians’ full name, address and telephone number. Some travellers chose to have the consent letter notarized to further support its authenticity, especially if they are undertaking a significant trip and want to avoid any delay.

When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should arrive at the border in the same vehicle as their children or any minors they are accompanying.

What you can bring with you

As a visitor, you can bring certain goods into Canada for your own use as “personal baggage”. Personal baggage includes clothing, camping and sports equipment, cameras and personal computers. This also includes your mode of transportation, including vehicles, private boats and aircraft.

You must declare all goods when you arrive at the first CBSA port of entry. Our border services officers conduct examinations of goods being imported or exported to verify declarations. If you declare goods when you arrive and take them back with you when you leave, you will not have to pay any duty or taxes. These goods cannot be:

  • used by a resident of Canada;
  • used on behalf of a business based in Canada;
  • given as a gift to a Canadian resident; or
  • disposed of or left behind in Canada.

The border services officer may ask you to leave a security deposit for your goods, which will be refunded to you when you export the goods from Canada. Should this occur, you will be issued a Temporary Admission Permit. We will retain a copy and give you one for your records. When you leave Canada, present your goods and your copy of the Temporary Admission Permit, to the border services officer, who will give you a receipt and your security deposit will be refunded by mail.

For more information on what you can bring with you to Canada, consult Visitors to Canada and other Temporary Residents.

Making your Declaration

Presenting yourself to the CBSA

All travellers arriving in Canada are obligated by Canadian law to present themselves to a border services officer, respond truthfully to all questions and accurately report their goods. This includes a requirement to report any food, plant and animal products in their possession.

We remind travellers to have all identification and travel documentation ready. Being prepared to make a full and accurate declaration, including the amount of goods in Canadian dollars you are bringing with you, will help us get you on your way as quickly as possible.

Arriving by air: If arriving by air, you will receive a CBSA Declaration Card while you are on board and must complete it prior to arrival. Whether you’re returning to Canada or visiting, you’ll follow the same straightforward process to enter Canada when arriving by air. For a step-by-step guide, consult Arriving by Air or check out our video onYouTube.

Arriving by land: If arriving by land, follow the signs to the first check point — referred to as Primary Inspection – where a border services officer will examine your identification and other travel documents, and take your verbal declaration.

Arriving by private boat: If arriving by private boat, proceed directly to a designated marine telephone reporting site and call the Telephone Reporting Center (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277 in order to obtain CBSA clearance. Certain private boaters may now present themselves to the CBSA by calling the TRC from their cellular telephones from the location at which they enter Canadian waters. For more information, consult our fact sheet.

For more information to help you make your declaration, consult Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents.

CBSA Declaration Card

The CBSA Declaration Card tells us what we need to know about you, your travels and what you’re bringing into the country. CBSA Declaration Cards are distributed to passengers arriving by air, and are also used at some locations for travellers arriving by train, boat or bus. Bringing a pen in your carry-on baggage will help you complete it, as required, prior to arrival.

Instructions on how to complete the card are attached for your assistance. You can list up to four people living at the same residence on one card. Once the card is completed, detach and discard the instructions. Please do not fold the card, as this allows us to serve you more quickly.

Be sure to keep the card handy along with your identification and other travel documents. You will be asked to show this card to our border services officers several times.

If you have any questions about the card or Canadian regulations, please ask the border services officer when you arrive.

Referrals for secondary services and inspections

At any point during your interactions with our border services officers at a port of entry, you may be referred to our secondary services and inspections area.

We understand that travellers may feel anxious when crossing the border and want you to know that secondary referrals should not be viewed as an indication of wrongdoing. They are a normal part of the cross-border travel process, which any returning resident or visitor to Canada may experience.

Why you may be referred

You may be referred for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • verifying your declaration and/or documentation;
  • answering more in-depth questions about yourself or presenting your goods for inspection;
  • determining your admissibility to Canada or the admissibility of goods in your possession;
  • paying duty and taxes;
  • undergoing a random inspection;
  • reporting currency or monetary instruments equal to or greater than CAN$10,000, when entering or exiting Canada;
  • completing or processing paperwork to support your entry or the entry of your goods to Canada.

For information on what to expect, what we ask of you and guidance on how you can provide client service feedback, consult What to Expect: Secondary Services and Inspections.

Travelling with alcohol and tobacco

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are products that exceed 0.5% alcohol by volume.

You must be of legal age in the province of importation. While you are permitted to import alcoholic beverages in excess of those listed above, we remind all travellers that they will be responsible for paying duty and taxes on the additional alcoholic beverages they are importing.

For more information on bringing alcoholic beverages to Canada, consult Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents.

Tobacco products

As a visitor or a temporary resident, you may import, free of duty and taxes

For a visit of short duration, these quantities may be limited to amounts that are appropriate in respect of the nature, purpose, and duration of the visit.

For more information on bringing tobacco to Canada, consult Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents.

Restricted/prohibited goods

The importation of certain goods is restricted or prohibited in Canada. To avoid the possibility of penalties, including seizure or prosecution, make sure you have the information you require before attempting to import items into Canada.

The following are some examples of restricted or prohibited goods:

Firearms and weapons: You must declare all weapons and firearms at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada.

Food, plants, animals and related products: All food, plants, animals, and related products must be declared. Food can carry disease, such as E. coli. Plants and plant products can carry invasive alien species, such as the Asian Long-Horned Beetle. Animals and animal products can carry diseases, such as avian influenza and foot-and-mouth.

Explosives, fireworks and ammunition: You are required to have written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada.

Vehicles: Vehicles include any kind of pleasure vehicles such as passenger cars, pickup trucks, snowmobiles and motor homes, as long as you use them for non-commercial purposes. There are many requirements that apply to the importation of vehicles.

Consumer products: The importation of certain consumer products that could pose a danger to the public (e.g., baby walkers, jequirity beans that are often found in art or bead work) is prohibited. Canadian residents should be aware of consumer products that have safety requirements in Canada. Many of these safety requirements are stricter than requirements of other countries.

For more information on restricted/prohibited goods, consult Visitors to Canada and Other Temporary Residents or our publications specific to Importing a Firearm or Weapon Into Canada and Importing a Vehicle Into Canada.

Travelling with CAN$10,000 or more

If you have currency or monetary instruments equal to or greater than CAN$10,000 (or the equivalent in a foreign currency) in your possession when arriving in or departing from Canada, you must report this to the CBSA. Monetary instruments include items such as stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques, and travellers’ cheques.

We remind all travellers that this regulation applies to currency and monetary instruments you have on your person, in your baggage and in your vehicle.

Upon your arrival in Canada with CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, it must be reported on the CBSA Declaration Card (if one was provided to you), or in the verbal declaration made to a border services officer.

When departing Canada by air with CAN$10,000 or more in your possession, you must report to the CBSA office within the airport, prior to clearing security or, if departing by land or boat, report your intent to export to the CBSA at one of our offices.

For more information, including instructions on how to report your intent to import or export currency in person, by mail, or by courier, consult Crossing the border with $10,000 or more?

Travelling with gifts

While you are outside Canada, you can send gifts free of duty and taxes to friends in Canada under certain conditions. To qualify, each gift must not be worth more than CAN$60 and cannot be a tobacco product, an alcoholic beverage or advertising matter. If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, the recipient will have to pay regular duty and taxes on the excess amount. It is always a good idea to include a greeting card to avoid any misunderstanding.

If you are travelling with gifts, do not wrap them prior to crossing the border. If you do, we remind you that a border services officer may need to unwrap the gift to conduct an examination of the goods you are bringing into Canada.


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