Reporting Money and Goods to Customs at the Canadian Border

What You Need to Declare When Entering or Leaving Canada

Airport customer service representative holding passport
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When traveling to and from Canada, there are rules regarding what you're allowed to bring into and out of the country—and what you're not. For example, Canadians returning home must declare any goods purchased or otherwise acquired while out of the country. This includes gifts, prizes, and awards, and also items purchased or received that will be shipped to them later. Any items purchased at a Canadian or foreign duty-free shop must be declared as well. 

To Declare or Not to Declare?

A good rule of thumb for Canadians returning home through customs: If you're not sure whether or not something needs to be declared, it's better to declare it and clear it with border personnel.

It would be much worse to fail to declare something only to have officers discover it later. Officials can seize any illegally imported goods—and if you're caught with something that isn't kosher, you're likely to face penalties and fines. Worst-case scenarios include bringing something that might be legal (if properly permitted) in the U.S.—such as a firearm or other weapon—into Canada without declaring it. The penalties are strict and you could face criminal charges.

Bringing Money Into Canada

There are no limits to the amount of money that travelers may bring into or take out of Canada. However, amounts of $10,000 or more must be reported to customs officials at the Canadian border. Anyone who fails to report amounts of $10,000 or greater may face having their funds seized and be looking at a penalty between $250 and $500.

If you're carrying $10,000 or more in coins, domestic and/or foreign banknotes, securities such as travelers' checks, stocks, or bonds, you must complete a Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report (Individual Form E677).

If the money is not your own, you must complete Form E667 Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report, General. The form should be signed and handed to a customs officer for review.

Completed forms are sent to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC) for assessment and analysis.

Non-Canadians Visiting Canada

Anyone bringing goods into Canada must declare them to a border officer. This rule applies to cash and other items of monetary value. Although, it's a good idea to have some idea of exchange rates since the minimum amount required to be declared is $10,000 in Canadian dollars.

Personal Exemptions for Returning Canadians

Canadian residents or temporary residents returning to Canada from a trip outside the country and former Canadian residents returning to live in Canada may qualify for personal exemptions. This allows individuals to bring a certain value of goods into Canada without having to pay the regular duties. They'll still have to pay duties, taxes and any provincial/territory assessments on the value of goods that exceeds the personal exemption.

Future Issues at the Border

The Canada Border Services Agency keeps a record of violations. Travelers into and out of Canada who develop a record of infractions may have issues crossing the border in the future and may be subject to more detailed examinations.

Tip: The best course of action for anyone entering Canada, whether you're a citizen or not, is to have your identification and travel documents readily available. As long as you're honest, polite, and patient, in most instances, you'll be quickly on your way.