Our personal exemptions section provides you with duty free limit and personal exemption information for bringing goods into Canada from the United States.
Planning on exceeding your duty free allowance? Use our Canada Customs Duty Rates, Tariffs and Taxes Chart to see how much duty you will have to pay to bring goods back to Canada from the U.S. that exceed your duty free allowance. You can also use our Canadian Duty Calculator to calculate duty and tax payable on 1,000's of other items.
Duty Free Limits for Canada
Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into Canada from the United States without having to pay the regular duties that apply to those goods (except for minimum duties that may apply to certain tobacco products). In other words, these items are Duty Free.
Even if you do not qualify for a personal exemption, you may bring goods of any value back to Canada as long as you pay the applicable duties and any provincial or territorial assessments that apply, with the exception of Restricted Items and certain Food, Plant and Animal Items. See our Duty & Tax Tips section for more information.
What are your personal exemption amounts?
NOTE: Canadian Duty free allowances increased to the following amounts on June 1, 2012.
Less than 24 Hours - $0 CAD
There is no duty free allowance for absences of less than than 24 hours.
24 Hour Exemption – $200 CAD
If you are absent from Canada for more than 24 hours, you may claim up to $200 CAD worth of goods duty free as your personal exemption and all goods must be with you when you arrive. If the goods you bring in are worth more than $200 CAD in total, you cannot claim this exemption and you will have to pay duties and taxes on all goods you bring in to Canada. You can NOT include tobacco or alcoholic under this exemption.
48 Hour Exemption – $800 CAD
If you are absent from Canada for more than 48 hours, you may claim up to $800 CAD worth of goods duty free, and must have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. You may include some tobacco and alcohol products under this exemption, and should review the section below called “Alcohol and Tobacco” for more details.
7 Day Exemption – $800 CAD
If you are absent from Canada for more than 7 days, you may claim up to $800 CAD worth of goods duty free. You may include some tobacco and alcohol products under this exemption, and should review the section below called “Alcohol and Tobacco” for more details. With the exception of tobacco and alcohol products, you do not need to have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. To calculate the number of days you have been absent, do not include the date you left Canada but include the date you returned. Dates matter, not times. For example, you are considered to have been absent for seven days if you left Friday the 7th and returned Friday the 14th.
What are Duties?
The term “duties” includes excise taxes and GST/HST. It does not include provincial or territorial sales tax. However, the CBSA has working agreements with some provinces and territories that allows them to collect provincial and territorial taxes, levies and fees on goods that have a value higher than your personal exemption.
Are personal exemptions subject to any terms or conditions?
You should be aware that the following terms and conditions apply to personal exemptions:
- You are not allowed to combine your personal exemptions with another person’s or transfer them to someone else.
- You are not allowed to combine your 48-hour exemption ($800 CAD) with your 7-day exemption ($800 CAD) for a total exemption of $1600 CAD.
- If the total value of the goods you bring back to Canada exceeds your duty free allowance, you will have to pay duty and taxes on the vale of ALL goods you bring back to Canada, not just the amount that exceeds your allowance.
- Children are entitled to a personal exemption as long as the goods they are declaring are for the child’s use.
- Personal exemption claims must be made in Canadian dollars, which requires you to convert the amount you paid for goods in the U.S. (including sales tax) into Canadian dollars at the applicable rate of exchange.
- Generally, the goods you include in your personal exemption must be for your personal or household use. This includes souvenirs, prizes and gifts.
- Goods brought in for commercial use or for another person do not qualify as a personal exemption and are subject to full duties.
- Goods you include in your 24-hour exemption or 48-hour exemption have to be with you on your arrival in Canada. Goods you claim in your 7-day exemption may be shipped to your home by mail, courier or other means of transportation, except for tobacco and alcohol.
Alcohol and Tobacco
You can include limited quantities of alcoholic beverages in your personal exemption. These items must accompany you on your arrival. Please note that alcohol and tobacco exemptions are not available unless you have been outside Canada for more than 48 hours.
The provincial or territorial minimum ages for the importation of alcohol are:
- 18 years for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec; and
- 19 years for Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes:
- 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine;
- 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of liquor;
- a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of wine and liquor; or
- 24 x 355 millilitre (12 ounces) cans or bottles (maximum of 8.5 litres) of beer or ale.
You may be able to bring in more than the free allowance of alcohol, as long as the quantities are within the limit set by the province or territory where you will enter Canada. If the value of the goods is more than the free allowance, you will have to pay both customs and provincial/territorial assessments. For more information, check with the appropriate provincial or territorial liquor control authority before you arrival back in Canada.
You are allowed to bring in all of the following amounts of tobacco into Canada without paying duty:
- 200 cigarettes;
- 50 cigars or cigarillos;
- 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco; and
- 200 tobacco sticks.
If you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco in your personal allowance, a partial exemption may apply. You will have to pay a special duty on these products unless they are marked“CANADA – DUTY PAID ? DROIT ACQUITTÉ.” You will find Canadian-made products sold at a duty-free shop marked this way.
If you bring in more than your personal allowance, you will have to pay regular duties and assessments on the excess amount, which can be very substantial.
While you are outside Canada, you can send gifts free of duty and taxes to friends in Canada under certain conditions. To qualify, each gift must not be worth more than $60 CAD and cannot be a tobacco product, an alcoholic beverage or advertising matter.
If the gift is worth more than $60 CAD, the recipient will have to pay regular duties on the excess amount. It is always a good idea to include a gift card to avoid any misunderstanding. While gifts you send from outside Canada do not count as part of your personal exemption, gifts you bring in your personal baggage do.
For more information, call Border Information Services (BIS) at one of the following telephone numbers.:
Toll-free in Canada: 1-800-461-9999
Outside Canada: 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 (long-distance charges will apply)