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Canada Customs Exemptions for Returning Canadian Residents

Personal Customs Exemptions for Canadian Residents Increased June 2012

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Update: 05/31/12

If you are a Canadian resident or temporary resident of Canada returning to Canada from a trip outside the country, or a former Canadian resident returning to live in Canada, you may qualify for a personal exemption to bring a certain value of goods into Canada without having to pay the regular duties. You will still have to pay duties, taxes and any provincial/territory assessments on the value of goods above your personal exemption.

Children, even babies, are entitled to a personal exemption. A parent or guardian can make a declaration on the child's behalf as long as the goods being declared are for the child's use.

The amount you claim for your personal exemption must be reported in Canadian dollars. Use a foreign exchange converter to change foreign currencies into Canadian dollars.

The personal exemption for returning Canadian residents depends on the length of time you have been outside Canada.

The personal exemptions for Canadian residents have been increased effective June 1, 2012. The new exemption limits go up to CAN$200 from CAN$50 for absences of 24 hours or longer, and up to CAN$800 if you're out of the country longer than 48 hours. After a 7-day absence, you are allowed to include goods that will follow you by mail or other delivery method.

Outside Canada for Less Than 24 Hours

No exemption.

Outside Canada for 24 Hours or More

If you are outside Canada for 24 hours or more, you may claim a personal exemption of

  • up to CAN$200 worth of goods
  • the goods must accompany you
  • tobacco or alcohol can not be claimed in this exemption

Note: If you bring in goods worth more than CAN$200 in total, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead you have to pay full duties on all the goods you bring in.

Outside Canada for 48 Hours or More

If you are outside Canada for 48 hours or more, you may claim a personal exemption of

  • up to CAN$800 worth of goods
  • the goods must accompany you
  • you can include some tobacco products and alcohol, but only a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products or manufactured tobacco.

Outside Canada for 7 Days or More

To calculate the number of days you have been outside Canada for the purposes of this personal exemption, do not include the day you left Canada but do include the day you returned.

If you are outside Canada for 7 days or more, you may claim a personal exemption of

  • up to CAN$800 worth of goods
  • you can include some tobacco products and alcohol, but only a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products or manufactured tobacco.
  • alcohol and tobacco products must accompany you
  • other goods do not need to accompany you when you cross the border.

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