Bringing Alcohol Into Canada

How much alcohol can you bring into Canada without paying duty or taxes?

Like other goods that come through customs, Canada has some specific rules about how much and who can bring alcohol into the country. 

Returning Canadians, visitors to Canada and people moving to Canada for short periods are allowed to bring small amounts of liquor and beer into the country as long as it accompanies them (that is, the alcohol can't be shipped separately).

It's important to note that anyone bringing alcohol into Canada must be at least the legal drinking age of the province where they enter the country.

For most Canadian provinces and territories the legal drinking age is 19; for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, the legal drinking age is 18.

The amounts of alcohol you're allowed to bring into Canada without paying duty or taxes will vary slightly by province as well. 

The below chart shows the amount of alcohol that citizens and visitors may bring into Canada without paying duty or taxes (one of the following types, not a combination, is allowed in a single trip across the border). These amounts are considered the "personal exemption" amounts of alcohol

Type of alcoholMetric AmountImperial (English) AmountEstimate
WineUp to 1.5 litersUp to 53 fluid ouncesTwo bottles of wine
Alcoholic beverageUp to 1.14 litersUp to 40 fluid ouncesOne large bottle of liquor
Beer or AleUp to 8.5 litersUp to 287 fluid ounces24 cans or bottles

Source: Canada Border Services Agency

Returning Canadian Residents and Visitors

The above amounts apply if you are a Canadian resident or temporary resident returning from a trip outside Canada, or a former Canadian resident returning to live in Canada.

You can bring these quantities of alcohol into Canada without paying duty and taxes after you have been out of the country for more than 48 hours. If you've been on a day trip to the United States, for example, any alcohol you bring back to Canada will be subject to the usual duties and taxes. 

Visitors to Canada also are allowed to bring small quantities of alcohol into Canada without paying duty and taxes.

Except in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, you can bring in amounts more than your personal exemption allowance by paying duties and taxes on the excess amounts, but those amounts are limited by the province or territory in which you enter the country.

Bringing Alcohol When Moving to Settle in Canada

If you are moving to Canada permanently for the first time (that is, not a returning former resident), or if you are coming to Canada to work for a period longer than three years, you are allowed to bring the previously mentioned small quantities of alcohol and may make arrangements to ship alcohol (the contents of your wine cellar for example) to your new Canadian address. 

When entering Canada with an amount greater than the ones listed in the chart above (in other words, an amount exceeding your personal exemption), not only will you pay duty and taxes on the excess, you'll be required to pay any applicable provincial or territorial taxes as well.

Since each province varies, contact the liquor control authority in the province where you'll be entering Canada for the most up-to-date information.