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7 Things Customs Agents Wish You Knew Before You Travel To Canada

Are you planning a trip to Canada soon? Whether you are just visiting someone in Canada or if you are planning to move to Canada for studies or immigration. You need to be aware of what you can bring on your trip to Canada. Here are 7 things Customs Agents wish you knew before you travel to Canada.

1. Bringing Food for Personal Use

While carrying food, plants and animal products on you while travelling to Canada might seem harmless, Travelers may not realize the hazards associated with food, plant and animal products. These products may carry invasive species and diseases and may cause risks to Canada’s food supply, economy, environment and our health.

You are required by law to declare all food, plants and animal products you bring with you into Canada. This includes but not limited to cooked or raw animal products, milk, fat, butter, cheese, eggs, fish, seafood. As well as plant products like fruits, vegetables, nuts, wood, roots, herbs, flowers, insects, bulbs, soil.

Some of the common mistakes travelers make is failing to declare items like

  • Homemade food
  • Handmade crafts, such as wooden items
  • Cooked or cured meats
  • Soil
  • Plants used for homeopathic or medicinal purposes
  • Milk products, such as butter, yogurt, cheese
  • Processed or canned food

As per Canada Border Service Agency rules failure to declare food, plants and animal products or provide required permits/certificates can lead to:

detention of your products
  • a penalty up to $1300
  • prosecution

Use this link to review rules and regulations around what food, plant and animal products you are allowed to bring in to Canada.

2. Importing Alcoholic Beverages

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

You are allowed to import or bring with you only one of the following amounts of alcohol and alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes as part of your personal exemption:


3. Importing Tobacco products

Travelers 18 years of age and above are allowed to bring in all of the following amounts of tobacco into Canada duty- and taxes-free within your personal exemption provided they are marked “DUTY PAID CANADA DROIT ACQUITTÉ:”, Canadian-made products with this mark are sold at duty-free shops. You can speed up your clearance by having your tobacco products available for inspection when you arrive. If you bring more than your personal exemption you are required to pay regular assessments on the excess amount.


4. Cannabis for Personal Use

You might aware that Cannabis has been legalized in Canada, but if you have cannabis with you in any form, you must declare it to the Canada Border Services Agency. Not declaring cannabis in your possession at the Canadian border could also lead to arrest and prosecution.

The Cannabis Act, legalizing and regulating cannabis (marijuana), creates a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada.


Transporting cannabis across the border in any form – including any oils containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD) – without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada remains a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada. The prohibition applies regardless of the amount of cannabis you are carrying with you, if you hold medical document authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes or if you are travelling from an area with legalized or decriminalized cannabis.


5. Carrying Jewelry or precious ornaments

Bringing in jewelry with you to Canada is allowed but you need to be prepared with a description of the goods for the customs officer. To avoid delays at customs when you enter Canada, prepare a list of the Jewelry items you are carrying with you, include the value (wording from your insurance policy or jeweler’s appraisal) and photographs of the items, it’s good to have receipts showing how much you paid.

6. Travelling with CAN $10,000 or more

There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can bring into Canada, you are required to declare any currency or monetary instruments you have in your possession that are valued at CAN$10,000 or more. The CAN$10,000 can be any combination of Canadian or foreign currency and monetary instruments, such as stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques and traveler’s cheques. This requirement applies to you whether you are travelling on business, pleasure or if you are carrying money on behalf of someone else.

You can declare the amount in currency on monetary instruments valued at $10,000 or more in your possession in the CBSA declaration card or on an Automated Border Clearance self-serve kiosk or in a verbal declaration made to the border services officer.


7. Use of Smart and secure border tools for travel and trade

CBSA has built several tools that will make it easy for travelers to complete their mandatory paperwork for entering Canada. These tools allow travelers to update documentation and provide information in advance of their visit and save time at the port of entry.

Using the Mandatory ArriveCAN app (Online or mobile) to enter Canada – For submission of contact details, travel information, proof of vaccination before entering Canada

CanBorder: eDeclaration mobile app – Can be used by most travelers, including returning residents and foreign nationals, arriving at a Canadian airport with Primary Inspection Kiosks

Key features of the app are as follows

  • operates entirely in airplane mode (once downloaded)
  • stores only non-sensitive information
  • allows you to create a customs and immigration declaration for up to 5 travelers per address
  • reduces your processing time at an airport arrival kiosk (Primary Inspection Kiosk) by up to 50% upon arrival

While this list is not comprehensive it will help you plan your trip to Canada and be better prepared for Canadian customs formalities at the airport.

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