Tax Exemption for Cross-Border Shopping or Vacationing
Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into Canada without paying the regular duties and taxes. Tax exemptions are calculated by hours/days of absent per person. This is applicable to:
Goods acquired abroad by a resident or temporary resident of Canada or by a former resident who is returning to Canada to resume residence, for the personal or household use of that person or as souvenirs or gifts, but not bought on commission or as an accommodation for any other person or for sale, and reported by that person at time of return to Canada.
Absent from Canada less than 24 hours
If you are a Canadian traveler visiting the United States just for the day (less than 24 hours), there is no exemption on the goods you will bring back into Canada upon your return. You will have to pay the regular duty and taxes on those goods.
Absent from Canada or 24 hours but less than 48 hours
You can bring in CAN$50 worth of goods free of duty and tax. However, if the goods you bring in are worth more than CAN$50 in total, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead you have to pay full applicable duties and taxes on all goods you bring in.
There is no exemption for Alcohol and Tobacco. See below.
48 hours or more
If you bought alcohol or tobacco, you can bring in CAN$400 worth of goods free of duty and tax. You must have the goods with you when you arrive in Canada. Although you can include some tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products and manufactured tobacco.
7 days or more
You can bring in CAN$750 worth of goods free of duty and tax.
The personal exemption cannot be pooled with other person’s exemption to cover an article that is valued in excess of the exemption limit. Neither can a person’s exemption be transferred to another person.
Duty Free Limits on Alcohol and Tobacco
Restrictions apply to the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into Canada under your exemption. If you have been outside Canada for at least 48 hours and are of legal age, you can bring in these amounts of alcohol and tobacco products free of duty and tax as part of your personal exemption:
- 1.14 L (40 oz.) of liquor; or
- 1.5 L of wine; or
- 24 X 355 ml (12 oz.) containers of beer.
Tobacco products (all of the following):
- 200 cigarettes;
- 50 cigars or cigarillos;
- 200 tobacco sticks; and
- 200 g (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco.
Exceeding the Exempted Amount
If you bring goods over the exempted value, after being absent from Canada over 48 hours, the value for duty of the goods shall be reduced by an amount equal to that maximum specified value and, in the case of alcoholic beverages and tobacco, the quantity of those goods shall be reduced by the quantity of alcoholic beverages and tobacco up to the maximum quantities allowed.
If you are only absent from Canada less than 48 hours and you bring back goods over $50, you’ll have to pay duty and tax on the full value.
If you are absent from Canada of at least 48 hours, and you have brought items over the exemption limit no more than $300, you’ll be able to pay a favorable duty rate of 7% for all goods from MFN nations. This does not apply to alcoholic beverages or tobacco products.