Quick Guide to Personal Exemptions

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Quick Guide to Personal Exemptions

Traveling abroad and thinking about bringing back a few items with you? Make your re-retry into Canada a lot easier by following the simple steps noted below. They’ll help you get through customs with much more ease at mind.

Coming home from a day trip across the border? If your trip was less than 24 hours, there are no personal exemptions for cross-border shoppers.

Returning after 24 and 48 hours

If you’re returning after 24 and 48 hours, you can claim goods of up to CAN$200 without paying any duty and taxes. You must have the goods with you when crossing  back into Canada but be careful, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are not included in this exemption. Spent over $200 in goods? You’ll have to pay full duties on all goods you’re bringing in.

Returning after 48 hours or more

The longer the stay, the larger the exemption. If you’re returning after 48 hours or more, you can claim goods worth up to CAN$800 without having to pay any duty and taxes. As usual, you need to have the goods with you at the moment you’ll be crossing back into Canada.

This time, tobacco and alcoholic beverages are allowed, but in limited quantities: you can bring back up to 1.5 litres of wine or 1.14 litres of alcoholic beverages or 8.5 litres of beer. In terms of tobacco products that translates into: 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams of manufactured tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks. Some tobacco products and alcoholic beverages may be included in your personal exemption but should exceed that exemption limit, special rates will apply.

After 7 days or more

Similarly to those returning after 48 hours, you can claim goods up to CAN$800 without paying any duty or taxes although this time, you can have only a portion of your tobacco goods or alcoholic beverages with you – the rest can arrive later, as goods to follow. The quantities of those two specific products remain the same as for those returning after 48 hours.

Part of the year abroad

returning from abroad exemptions

So you’ve spent a few months away from home outside of Canada and you’re finally coming back? Well, you’re entitled to the same exemptions as those who spend 7 days or more outside of the Great White North. If you’re tempted to bring back that great car you purchased while living away from home, be sure you meet all import requirements and of course, pay all applicable duty and taxes.

Good to know

Truth be told, you can bring back any amount of goods as long as you’re willing to pay for the duty and taxes that apply.

  • You’re eligible for a personal exemption if you’re a Canadian resident returning from a trip outside of Canada; a former resident of Canada returning to live in Canada or a temporary resident of Canada returning from a trip outside the country.
  • Young children and infants are also entitled to a personal exemption: as the parent / guardian you need to make the declaration on their behalf just as long as the goods you’ll be declaring are for the child’s use.
  • You cannot combine your exemption with someone else’s exemption.
  • You can’t combine your 48-hours exemption with you seven-day exemption to make up one big exemption for CAN$1,600.
  • The goods you bring back and include in your personal exemption should be for personal or household use like souvenirs and gifts. Anything brought back for commercial use or for another person doesn’t qualify for the exemption.

Have your receipts ready when making your declaration. Be prepared to make an accurate declaration in Canadian dollars of the amount of goods you’re bringing back.

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