Travelling Abroad: Duty on Alcohol and Tobacco into Canada

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Travelling Abroad: Duty on Alcohol and Tobacco into Canada

How much alcohol can I bring back to Canada?

If you are a Canadian citizen and have been outside of the country for at least 48 hours, you are duty and tax exempt for the following amounts when bringing alcohol into Canada:

  • 1.14 L (40 oz.) of liquor; or
  • 1.5 L of wine (53 oz.); or
  • 24 X 355 ml (12 oz.) containers of beer.

How much tobacco can I bring back to Canada?

If you are a Canadian citizen and have been outside of the country for at least 48 hours, you are duty and tax exempt for the following amounts:

  • 200 cigarettes; and
  • 50 cigars or cigarillos; and
  • 200 tobacco sticks; and
  • 200 g (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco.

If you want to bring tobacco products duty free as a part of your personal exemption, the packages must be stamped “duty paid Canada droit acquitté”. This means the duties are included in the price. You will find tobacco products sold at duty-free stores marked this way. 

What if I want to bring more than my duty & tax-free entitlement?

Alcohol

If you want to bring more alcohol than the amounts listed above, you’re allowed to do so. However, exceeding the personal exemption limit means that you’ll pay duties and taxes. Additionally, there is a limit on how much you can bring in excess of the personal exemption limit and it depends on which province you’re entering Canada through.

The quantity limit in excess of the duty-free entitlement (litres) is as follows:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 9.09 ltr
  • Nova Scotia – 9.09 ltr
  • Prince Edward Island – 9.09 ltr
  • New Brunswick – 45 ltr
  • Quebec – 9 ltr
  • Ontario – 45 ltr
  • Manitoba – no limit
  • Saskatchewan – 9.1 ltr
  • Alberta – 9.09 ltr
  • British Columbia – 45.45 ltr
  • Northwest Territories and Nunavut – ZERO
  • Yukon – 9.09 ltr

Example: You want to bring 14 bottles of wine (750ml x 14 bottles = 10.5 litres) into the province of Quebec after being away for over 48 hours. You are exempt from paying any duties on one of the of 1.5 litres bottles. You must pay duties and taxes on additional 9 litres. If you want to bring even more than that, you would need to get a permit from the appropriate territorial or provincial liquor control authority before you (or the bottles) get to Canada. 

Buyer beware, this can be VERY expensive. The CBSA alcohol duty rate you’ll owe depends on several factors, such as the province you enter, the type of alcohol, the alcohol content percentage, and its country of origin. Predicting the total amount you’ll pay is tricky, but it could be up to 85% of what you paid for the alcohol. 

Tobacco

If you want to bring more tobacco products in addition to your personal exemption amounts, you are allowed to do so. You will need to pay duties on taxes on all products that exceed the amount listed above. Unlike alcohol, there is no limit on how much you can bring back, but you will still be held to total personal exemption limits. You can read more about this in our earlier blog about duty exemptions.

Additionally, there is a limit on how many tobacco products not stamped “duty paid Canada droit acquitté” that you can bring in. The limit is five units of unstamped tobacco products, one unit being:

  • 200 cigarettes; or
  • 50 cigars or cigarillos; or
  • 200 tobacco sticks; or
  • 200 g (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco.

Example: After spending over 48 hours abroad, you want to bring a combination of 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars into Canada. You purchased them at the duty free, so they are stamped “duty paid Canada droit acquitté”.  You also want to bring back 200 tobacco sticks that you purchased from a local vendor on your trip. These are not stamped “duty paid Canada droit acquitté”. You are under your personal exemption limit so you expect to pay no duties. However, you are informed by customs that you must pay duties and taxes on the 200 tobacco sticks because they are unstamped. 

Similar to alcohol, the Canada customs duty rates on tobacco are hard to calculate, and the amount you’ll have to pay will vary depending on several factors. Each province has a different tobacco tax. The duties you pay will also change depending on whether the tobacco you’re bringing is unstamped or not. You can find details on how taxes and duties on tobacco are calculated on the Government of Canada website.

 If you’re looking for more information on personal exemptions, check out our blogs on what to expect when cross border shopping and our quick guide to personal exemptions. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our Clearit representatives. We have an expert team of brokers who are ready to help you with all your import and export needs.