Travellers to Canada need to make various preparations before departure. For example, it is mandatory to apply online for an eTA Canada: a digital travel authorisation that is linked to the passport. In addition, it is advisable to check the import regulations and other customs provisions before departure.
Tourists and business travelers travelling to Canada are not allowed to take anything they want with them in their luggage. Certain products are subject to a maximum number, weight or content limit. Special guidelines apply to residents and former residents of Canada. The rules and conditions described in this article apply only to travellers who are not (or were) residents of Canada.
Permitted to import to Canada
Transporting personal luggage to Canada is no problem at all. However, there are some products and items that are subject to restrictions, including tobacco, alcohol, food, animals and valuable gifts. It is recommended that you carry a European Medical Passport, which contains medication, conditions you suffer from and the physicianʼs contact information.
Alcohol and tobacco
Travellers may import a maximum of 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco per person, provided the traveller is over 18 or 19 years of age (depending on the province in Canada they are traveling to). For alcoholic beverages, 40 ounces (equivalent to 1.14 liters) of spirits, 51 ounces (1.5 liters) of wine and 288 ounces (8.5 liters) of beer or ale may be brought into the country by travellers over 18 or 19 years of age.
Certain foods may not be imported into Canada. An import restriction applies to meat, eggs, honey, fruit, vegetables and dairy products. However, these products can be carried if you are entering from the United States. Cheese may be taken (maximum 20 kilos), provided it is for personal consumption.
Only birds from the United States may be taken to Canada without additional permission. Birds from all other countries, regardless of species, are only allowed with a special import permit. Cats and dogs coming from countries where rabies is prevalent may be imported with a valid vaccination certificate (in English or French), showing that the animal has recently been vaccinated for rabies. Cats and dogs from non-rabies countries may be imported if a certificate (in English or French) is provided certifying that there has been no incidence of rabies in the country in the previous six months, or with a previously mentioned certificate of vaccination.
Gifts brought to Canada may have a maximum value of 60 Canadian Dollars per gift. Travellers may bring more than one gift, as long as these individually are not worth more than 60 Canadian dollars.
When bringing medicines on your trip, it is recommended to carry a European Medical Passport, also called a medication passport or medicine passport, which contains medicine use, conditions you suffer from and the contact details of the doctor. This passport can be acquired at the website of the NHS.
For certain medicines, which contain controlled substances, a medical certificate must be applied for before departure. Start applying for this certificate on time. In addition, it is recommended to take the medicines with you in the original packaging with a label, so that it is quickly visible that it is medication and not drugs.
What can be brought home from Canada?
Less strict rules apply to the export of products from Canada. Travellers may take back an unlimited quantity of tobacco and alcoholic beverages from Canada. Canadian Dollars may be exported up to an amount of 10,000, - CAD. Amounts higher than 10,000, - CAD must be declared.
eTA Canada application
In addition to the luggage to be imported, Canadian customs also checks whether travelers are in possession of a valid eTA Canada. Travellers are checked by the airline prior to departure. Airlines that carry passengers without a valid eTA or a Canadian visa run the risk of being fined by the Canadian authorities. Therefore, apply for an eTA Canada on time, preferably a few weeks before departure. Although applications are processed within 3 days on average, in exceptional situations it may take longer for an application to be approved, for example if the Canadian immigration service conducts an extended background check.