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10 Tips for moving and importing your belongings to Canada

Moving to Canada is a big deal. It’s a life changing decision and one of the biggest undertakings you’ll ever go through in your lifetime. Every year Canada welcomes thousands of immigrants into the country, a total of 401,000 new permanent residents were welcomed into Canada in 2021. Each one of these newcomers landing in Canada goes through almost the same preparation as they plan to settle into a new country. 

Immigrants settling in Canada need to take into consideration which City/Town within Canada they plan to move, what type of Jobs they need to apply for, where they are going to stay, what time of the year do they land in Canada and what they need to carry from their home country when they move.

Most people migrating to a new country find deciding what they can carry in their luggage a difficult task. Airlines have strict baggage allowances, these days one can only carry baggage in the range of 23 to 40 kgs per ticket depending on the airline and destination. This puts a restriction on the number of personal items you can carry on your trip. Charges for additional or overweight baggage can range from $50 to $200 per bag depending on Airline policies. 

The amount of money you will have to pay to carry extra baggage via air should justify the value of what you intend to carry.

We have put together these tips that will help you with moving and importing your belongings to Canada.


Tip #1: Get Familiar with and Complete Forms BSF186 – Personal Effects Accounting Document (aka Form B4) and BSF186A – Personal Effects Accounting Document (aka Form B4A)

BSF186 is for goods you are bringing to Canada with you. Its mandatory, even if you have no goods with you at the time of arrival. BSF186A is for goods that you are not carrying with you but will arrive separately either with your arrival or after your arrival.

Goods that arrive later will only qualify for duty- and tax-free import if they are on your original list as part of BSF186A. You can type out a supporting list and attach it to the original form in case you need more space to list your goods.

We recommend you fill these forms before arrival as it will help you save the hassle of filling them at the airport. If you have them handy it will help you clear Canada customs at the port of entry faster. These forms need to be presented to the officer at the first port of entry so having them handy is a great advantage as you land into the country.

Apart from BSF186 and BSF186A, you will also need to fill the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Declaration Card when you travel to Canada via a commercial aircraft. You are required to complete the form before you land. The Declaration Card requires you to fill out detailed information on the things that you are bringing with you.

Tip #2: Find out what your allowed to bring into Canada: Make sure you know all the rules before you move

List of permitted items you can bring to Canada – Exempt or Subject to duty (fee the government charges on some goods when they enter Canada), this has been covered in detail on our previous blog post as well.


The Government of Canada has an online tool that you can use to take informed decisions on the amount of duty and taxes you will have to pay when you land in Canada.

Tip #3: Research what you need in Canada while you settle down and how much these items costs if you purchase them in Canada

With the power of internet, you can easily find out prices of goods from daily essentials, toiletries to clothing and accessories and compare their prices to goods you get in your home country.

Here are some websites that will help you get prices for goods available in Canadian stores.

Walmart.ca – A big box retailer with close to 400 stores operating in Canada. You get everything from Groceries, medicines to clothes and furniture in these stores, the stores are usually located in most big cities and there’s a high chance you’ll have one your place when you’re in Canada.

Amazon.ca – Great for online shopping, pricing comparable to what you get in local big box retail stores

Canadian Tire – If you’re shopping for tools, car parts, furniture, hardware, sports equipment, seasonal goods like winter jackets, boots etc.

Hudson Bay – For clothes, under garments, winter coats and boots

Shoppers Drug Mart – Pricing available for over-the-counter medicines and personal hygiene products

Home Depot – For goods you need at home like furniture, paint, tools, and hardware

Tip #4 Read your Airline Baggage Allowance Policy 


Its better you do your research on the Airline Baggage Allowance Policy before booking your tickets. Some airlines offer better baggage allowances for a marginally higher fare. It could be worth paying that extra amount of airfare for better baggage allowance, than paying extra baggage fee at the check in counter.

Tip #5 Weigh your Baggage and keep a buffer: Have a plan B (pay for extra baggage or leave things behind)

Use a baggage weighing scale to get a better idea if your baggage is within allowance as per the airline policy. Keep the baggage weight lower by at least 500 grams than the allowable limit to eliminate surprises at the check in counter. If extra weight in your baggage is unavoidable then look for options where you can purchase extra baggage in advance with the airline or be prepared to pay additional fees at the check in counter based on the extra weight calculated by the airline staff.

Tip #6 If you have belongings, you cannot leave behind for whatever reason then there are other cost-effective ways to ship them to Canada

Consider Shipping them to Canada. Find a reliable company that will ship goods for you, shipping charges will vary depending on how soon you want them, cost is higher if you want your goods to arrive by as soon as possible, in that case then need to be transported by air. If you don’t mind waiting for a couple of months goods can be shipped at a reasonable rate by sea. 


#7 When shipping your goods make sure they arrive in Canada after you land

To claim your shipped goods, you will need to visit the customs depot and present the stamped BSF186A form. The customs officer will reconcile your goods free of duties and taxes. If the officer finds any discrepancies, then you may have to pay duties or taxes for those goods.

If the goods reach before your arrival, they will be held in bonded storage for a period of 40 days. Most logistics and moving companies offer bonded storage service, so be sure to check with them. The cost for bonded storage varies based on the duration for which the goods need to be held.

Tip #8: Insure your Goods when shipping them

This is generally a good practice and offers a layer of protection in a rare case when the company handling your goods misplaces it. Insurance costs are not prohibitive and offer peace of mind especially if the goods need to be transported by sea.

Tip #9 Arrange for storage


You might need a place to store your goods in case you are moving a lot of goods and plan to live in a small sized rented accommodation when you land. Storage options in Canada are also provided by logistic or customs brokers for a reasonable fee depending on the space required.

Tip #10 Readthisif you plan to move your pet to Canada

While the Government of Canada allows you to import your pet into Canada, there are certain rules and restriction in place that if not followed or adhered to, the Government can refuse entry for your pet. It’s best that you familiarize your self with these rules and if you need expert advice, you can reach out to professionals like Orbit Brokers to help you out with the paper work.

Since moving to Canada is a big deal, it’s better to be well prepared than to ignore rules and face consequences at the time of landing. If you do have a lot of goods you plan to import into Canada and find all this overwhelming, you can also reach out to professionals that will help you with your needs. Orbit Brokers is a highly rated Customs Broker based in Toronto, Canada, we specialize in clearing personal goods into the country. You can email us at info@orbitbrokers.ca if you have any inquiries.

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