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Moving to Canada Customs

Moving to Canada – Customs Regulations


Like every other country, Canada has in place certain rules and regulations for entering the country. Therefore, there are specific items that are prohibited and restricted for entry. It is very important that you follow these rules, as refusal can result in penalty, fines, or punishment. For more information contact your Guardian Cargo Logistics relocation expert.
Listed below are a few items that are prohibited and restricted for entry into Canada:

  • Narcotics
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Explosives, including fireworks
  • Obscene materials
  • Goods made from endangered species
  • Live plants


The customs process may be a little tricky at first, but your Guardian relocation expert will help you every step of the way. Your status will determine the specifics of your customs regulations and requirements.
  • Immigrants: This is any person moving to Canada, with the intention of establishing a residence for more than 12 months.B An immigrant may import free of duty and taxes household and personal effects that were owned and used by him in his former country of residence.
  • Returning Canadians: May bring back duty free all household and personal effects including car, boat, aeroplane, provided they have been acquired and used six months prior to arrival in Canada. (After 5 years, the 6 months provision is eliminated).B There is, however, a valuation limit placed on these goods of $10,000 per item which includes automobiles. Duty & taxes will be levied against any one item that exceeds that limitation.B Canadians who have lived outside of Canada for less than 1 year are excluded from the speed program.


In order to have a smooth customs process, it is important to be courteous and follow all rules and regulations. Your attendance during the Canadian customs process will be required, be sure to make the proper arrangements. You can contact your Guardian Cargo Logistics representative for more details regarding the Canadian customs process. Guardian will guide you through customs for a smooth transition.

In order to clear customs you will be required to provide specific documents. Listed below are some of these documents you will need.

Landed Immigrant (Settlers):

  • Passport including immigration identification validated upon arrival
  • “Goods to Follow” list for all shipments, include values in English or French, provide detailed inventories
  • Advice notice from moving company
  • Documents proving ownership, possession and use
  • Receipts for new items being imported
  • Previous US/Canada border declaration papers
  • If applicable, liquor importation declaration
Returning Canadians:
  • Passport
  • Proof of residency and duration of stay outside of Canada (foreign work permit, letter from employer, rent receipts, statement from Canadian Consulate at origin, foreign drivers license, and so on)
  • Complete and detailed inventory list of items for import written in either English or French
  • Receipts of items purchased outside of Canada; requires proof of ownership and must have been used and owned for at least 6 months. Any individual items with value of less than $10,000 is entitled for duty free import
  • Liquor import declaration, if applicable
  • List of items exceeding value over $10,000 including vehicles
  • Previous US/Canada border declaration papers
Requirements for Work Visa, Student Visa, or Visitor Visa
  • Passport including valid visa issued by Canada Employment & Immigration
  • Advice notice obtained from moving company
  • Complete and detailed inventory list of all items being imported for personal use in Canada, written in English or French
  • Documents proving ownership, possession and use
  • Receipts for all new items being imported
  • Previous US/Canada border declaration papers
  • Liquor import, if applicable


  • All imported items must be for your personal use during stay
  • All goods must be exported upon leaving Canada
  • May not dispose of goods in Canada without customs authorization

Seasonal Resident in Canada

This refers to any person that is not a resident of Canada but owns a residential property or has leased a residence for at least 3 years for his/her personal use. You will be required to show proof of purchase and or a copy of lease agreement. You will also need your passport and a detailed inventory list written in English or French. May import used household goods and personal effects duty free on a 1 time entry basis, and goods cannot be sold for at least 1 year.

Requirements for Importing Inheritance or Gifts in Anticipation of Death

  • Personal identification
  • A detailed list of all items in English or French
  • Advice notice obtained from moving company
  • Copy of death certificate, copy of will or letter from the executer of the estate stating you are a beneficiary
  • A signed statement from the donor giving reason for the gift or a statement from the executer of the estate. Gifts are subject to import duties and taxes.

Vehicle Requirements

Immigrants may import vehicles duty free if they have owned, used and had it in their position prior to coming to Canada.

Returning Canadian residents who have lived outside Canada for at least 1 year may import a vehicle duty free if they have owned and used it for at least 6 months prior to import.

In all cases, any vehicle less than 15 years old must comply with all Canadian safety and emission standards. Note that not all vehicles made in the US or made to US specifications meet Canadian standards. Vehicles 15 years or older may be imported from countries other than the USA.