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Entering Canada
 

Traveling with Children

Due to international concern over child abduction, children traveling with one parent, grandparents or other guardians should carry proof of custody or letters from the non-accompanying parent(s) authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of the child's citizenship.) Travelers without such documentation may experience delays when seeking admission to another country.

Any person under the age of 18 and traveling alone should carry a letter from his/her parent or guardian authorizing the trip. Travelers without such documentation may experience delays at the Port of Entry.

Drunk Driving or other Criminal Record

Anyone with a criminal record (including a drunk driving conviction) may be excluded from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be issued but several weeks are required and a processing fee must be paid. Contact the Canadian Embassy or a Canadian Consulate in the U.S. for more information.

Naturalized Citizens

If you are a naturalized citizen and do not have a passport, you should travel with your naturalization certificate. A driver's license or Social Security card is not valid proof of citizenship. All U.S. citizens entering Canada from a third country must have a valid passport.

Alien Permanent Residents

Alien permanent residents of the U.S. must present their Alien Registration Card, commonly called the "Green Card."

Dual Citizens

If you are a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen you should always present yourself as a Canadian citizen when entering Canada and as a U.S. citizen when entering the United States. For more information, please visit our page on dual citizenship.

Customs Restrictions for U.S. Visitors to Canada

For a detailed summary of Canada's customs regulations and restrictions, please visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

As a visitor, you can bring certain goods into Canada for your own use as "personal baggage" during your stay. If you declare these goods when you arrive, and take them back with you when you leave, you will not have to pay any duties or taxes. These goods may not be used by a resident of Canada or on behalf of a business based in Canada.

Personal baggage includes things like clothing, camping equipment, sports equipment, personal computers and cameras. It also includes vehicles, vessels, and aircraft. Items for business use in Canada are admissible as personal baggage. You may be required to fill out a Customs Declaration Card.

The Customs inspector may request a security deposit on your goods and may issue a Temporary Admission Permit as a Customs control of the goods. Present the goods to Customs when you leave Canada and your deposit will be refunded.

A summary of Canada's Customs regulations follows below. For more detailed information, please visit their web site or contact them by telephone. The CBSA operates the Border Information Service, a computerized, 24-hour telephone service that automatically answers all incoming calls and provides general border services information. Within Canada it can be reached toll-free at 1-800-461-9999; outside of Canada it can be reached at 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064. Please note that long-distance charges apply to calls from outside Canada.

Gifts

You can import gifts for relatives and friends in Canada duty-free and tax-free, as long as each gift is valued at CA$60 or less. You cannot claim alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, or advertising matter as gifts. If the gift is worth more than CA$60, you will have to pay duties and taxes on the excess amount.

Alcoholic Beverages

If you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory you are entering, your personal baggage can also include up to:

  • 1.5 litres of wine, or
  • 1.14 litres of liquor, or
  • 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles (8.5 litres) of beer or ale

In the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, you can bring in more than your duty- and tax-free entitlement of alcohol. However, you will have to pay a provincial fee as well as customs duties and taxes on the excess amount, and these costs are generally high.

The minimum age requirement is 19 years of age in all provinces and territories, except for Québec, Manitoba, and Alberta, where the age is 18 years.

If you plan to import more than the provincial limit, you must contact the provincial authority and get permission before you arrive. In most provinces, the limit is 9.1 litres (2 gallons). However, some provinces allow more.

Tobacco Products

As long as you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory you are entering, your personal baggage can also include, duty-free, up to:

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

You may bring in additional quantities, but you must pay duty and tax on the excess amount.

The minimum age requirement for Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia is 19 years of age. In Québec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon Territory, the age requirement is 18 years of age.

Other Goods

Obscene materials, hate propaganda, most weapons and firearms and goods harmful to the environment are prohibited from entering Canada.

Certain goods are restricted from entering Canada. If you are considering importing meat or dairy products, weapons, plants, vehicles, exotic animals or products made from their skins or feathers, please contact Canada Customs beforehand for guidance.

Weapons

For information on bringing weapons into Canada, please visit the relevant section of this website.

Pets

If you bring a pet dog or cat at least three months old from the United States, you must have a certificate to show that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years. The certificate has to be dated and signed by a veterinarian, and it must identify the animal by breed, age, sex, coloring, and any distinguishing marks. Animal tags are not acceptable in place of certificates.

If you bring a pet dog or cat under three months old from the United States, or a guide dog from any country, you do not need a certificate, but the animal has to be in good health when it arrives.

See also the U.S. Customs regulations regarding pets and wildlife (46KB PDF).

Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entering the United States. This requirement does not apply, however, to puppies less than three months of age or to dogs originating or located for at least six months in areas designated by the U.S. Public Health Service as being rabies-free.

Metric Conversion

Whereas the United States uses Imperial Measurements, Canada uses the metric system. This means, for example:

  • One liter is very slightly more than one quart (.2642 gallons) and 1 gallon is equal to 3.785 liters.
  • One hundred kilometers is equal to 62 miles. (So, if the speed limit is 100 km/hr, drive 60 mph.)

A range of imperial-metric conversion tools and calculators are available on the internet, and can be found via your preferred search engine.

DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program

The Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) provides a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at airports or train stations or crossing U.S. borders, including:

  • Denied or delayed airline boarding;
  • Denied or delayed entry into and exit from the United States at a port of entry; or
  • Continuously being referred to secondary screening.

To initiate an inquiry, please log onto DHS TRIP's interactive web site. You will be asked to describe your concerns and experience, provide contact information and be assigned a case number to help you monitor the progress of your inquiry.