According to official site of the Canadian Border Service Agency CBSA, travellers that return to Canada must declare all of the goods acquired while outside Canada, such as purchases, gifts, prizes or awards that travellers are bringing with them or are having shipped to them.
You may qualify for a personal exemption when returning to Canada. This allows you to bring goods up to a certain value into the country without paying regular duty and taxes.
Are you eligible?
You are eligible for a personal exemption if you are one of the following:
- a Canadian resident returning from a trip outside Canada;
- a former resident of Canada returning to live in this country; or
- a temporary resident of Canada returning from a trip outside Canada.
Children are also entitled to a personal exemption as long as the goods are for the child’s use. Parents or guardians can make a declaration to the CBSA on behalf of the child.
What are your personal exemptions?
The length of your absence from Canada determines your eligibility for an exemption and the amount of goods you can bring back, without paying any duty and taxes. (The exception is a special excise duty that may apply to certain tobacco products.
What conditions apply?
- In general, the goods you include in your personal exemption must be for your personal or household use. Such goods include souvenirs that you purchased, gifts that you received from friends or relatives living outside Canada or prizes that you won.
- Goods you bring in for commercial use or for another person do not qualify for the exemption and are subject to applicable duties and taxes. In all cases, goods you include in your 24-hour exemption (CAN$200) or 48-hour exemption (CAN$800) must be with you upon your arrival in Canada.
- Except for tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, goods you claim in your 7-day exemption (CAN$800) may be shipped to your home by mail, courier or other means of transportation.
- You must always report the value of the goods you are importing in Canadian funds. Foreign currency amounts including any foreign taxes must be converted to Canadian dollars at the applicable exchange rate recognized by the CBSA.
Paying duty and taxes
The payment of duty and taxes
The CBSA collects duty and taxes on imported goods on behalf of the Government of Canada. Duty is a tariff payable on a good imported to Canada. Rates of duty are established by the federal Department of Finance and can vary significantly from one good to another as well as from one free trade agreement to another.
Beneficial duty rate
After each trip outside Canada of 48 hours or longer, in addition to being eligible for a personal exemption of CAN$800 (48-hour) or CAN$800 (7-day), you are entitled to a beneficial duty rate of 7% for additional goods valued up to CAN$300 over your exemption amount. This rate does not apply to tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. It applies only to goods that accompany you and that do not qualify for duty-free entry under the Customs Tariff. You must still pay any goods and services tax (GST) or harmonized sales tax (HST) that applies. In some provinces, the CBSA also collects the provincial sales tax (PST).
Regular duty rate
If you do not qualify for a personal exemption, or if you exceed your exemption limit and beneficial duty rate amounts, you will have to pay the 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 the PST if you live in a province where the CBSA has an agreement to collect the tax and you return to Canada through that province.
Duty and Taxes Estimator
To assist in calculating the amount owing, the CBSA has created a duty and tax estimator for travellers.
Often travellers acquire goods outside Canada and have these sent home. These goods arrive after your return to Canada. If you make such arrangements with a courier or postal company, you have 40 days from the date of your return to Canada to claim these goods. The good(s) mailed to Canada must qualify for the 7-day personal exemption. The shipment must not contain alcohol or tobacco products.
Upon arrival, you must tell a border services officer that you have shipped goods to follow and request Form BSF192, Personal Exemption CBSA Declaration. Be sure to retain your copy of Form BSF192 until you have received and accounted for all your goods.