Moving to Canada

Before you leave for Canada, you should prepare two copies of a detailed, itemized list (preferably typewritten) of all the goods you intend to bring into Canada as part of your personal effects. The list should indicate the value, make, model and serial number (when applicable) of all the goods.

You should describe each item of jeweler you plan to bring into Canada on the list of goods you submit. Since jewelry is difficult to describe accurately, it is best to use the wording from your insurance policy or jeweler’s appraisal and to include photographs that have been dated and signed by the jeweler or a gemologist. This information makes it easier to identify the jewelry when you first enter Canada, and later on when you return from a trip abroad with this jewelry.

Divide the list into two sections. In the first section, list the goods you are bringing with you; in the second, list the goods to follow. Goods that arrive later will only qualify for duty- and tax-free importation under your entitlement as a settler or former resident if they are on your original list.

Items you can import duty- and tax-free. Settlers and Former Residents can include the following personal and household effects in their duty- and tax-free entitlement:

  • clothing and linen;
  • furniture;
  • furnishings;
  • appliances;
  • silverware;
  • jewelry;
  • antiques;
  • family heirlooms;
  • private collections of coins, stamps and art;
  • personal computers;
  • books;
  • musical instruments;
  • hobby tools and other hobby items;
  • personal vehicles;
  • pleasure boats and the trailers to carry them (trailers are subject to Transport Canada requirements);
  • mobile trailers, not exceeding 2.6 meters (9 feet) in width, that the owner is capable of moving on his or her own;
  • utility trailers;
  • motor homes;
  • private aircraft; and
  • tool sheds or garages that do not attach to or form part of a dwelling.

A house, a large trailer you use as a residence and any goods you use or will use commercially are not eligible as personal or household effects. These goods are subject to regular duty and taxes.

Value limitation (CAN$10,000). If you are a former resident of Canada, any single personal or household item (including an automobile) that is worth more than CAN$10,000 on the date you import it is subject to applicable duty and taxes on the amount that is over CAN$10,000. This applies to items acquired after March 31, 1977.

Additional personal exemption. If you are a former resident who is returning to resume residence in Canada, you are entitled to claim a duty- and tax-free personal exemption of a maximum value of CAN$750 for goods you acquired abroad or while in transit. You do not have to own, possess or use these goods before you return to Canada to resume residence. For further information on this personal exemption, you may consult the publication called “I Declare” available on the CBSA Web site at:

Declaring your goods. When you arrive, even if you have no goods with you at the time, you must give your list of goods to the border services officer at your first point of arrival in Canada. Based on the list of goods you submit, the officer will complete a Form B4 and B4a, Personal Effects Accounting Document, assign a file number to it and give you a copy of the completed form as a receipt. You will need to present your copy of this form to claim free importation of your unaccompanied goods when they arrive. Goods to follow may be subject to import restrictions before you can import them.

To facilitate the clearance process, you can complete Form B4 and B4a, in advance of your arrival at the first port of entry in Canada.

Food, plants, pets and related products. All food, plants, animals and related products must be declared. Food can carry diseases such as E. coli. Plants and plant products can carry invasive alien species such as the Asian long-horned beetle. Animals and animal products can carry diseases such as avian influenza and foot and-mouth disease. Furthermore, certain species of plants and animals are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and their trade is carefully controlled. Because of these risks, the Government of Canada regulates the import and export of certain food, plants, animals and related products to and from Canada.

Based on emerging threats, import requirements for food, plants, animals and related products are subject to change on a daily basis. For the most up-to-date import requirements for these items, refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) at AIRS is an automated reference tool that will lead you through a series of questions about food, plants, animals or related products you wish to import to determine the applicable regulations, policies and import requirements.

If you are not declare you household goods to follow at your first point of arrival in Canada you can still clear your shipment.

You should decide whether you want to meet the movers in US-Canada Board to make your move easier or meet the movers in one of bonded warehouses in Canada. Locations of all bonded warehouses you can find here.

Note: if you meet with the movers in the US-Canada Board /Port Entry on Canadian site the moving truck with your belongings will be released unsealed immediately upon customs/ document inspection by Customs Official from the US and in Canada and can go straight to your residence in Canada.

Another option for you if you don’t have time and/or opportunity to see the movers in the US-Canada Board in Canada the moving truck will be sealed by Canadian Customs Officials and you must meet the movers in one of bonded warehouses according to Canadian Customs and Transportation Laws. Also, make sure you will meet with movers in the time frame between 08.30 AM-4.30 PM in bonded warehouse in order to unseal the truck in Canada. To get more info about that matter you can go to official Canada Border Services Agency at