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Spences Bridge over the Thompson River - Don Weixl/TOTA

Border and Customs

Agencies

Canada’s federal law enforcement agency is known as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and is responsible for border control, customs services and immigration enforcement. Its website has up-to-date information on travel and trade, including border wait times, importation advisories and updates on COVID-19.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for safeguarding food, animals and plants coming into the country and handles the regulations regarding this.

Visitors arriving from or transiting through the United States should visit the US Customs and Border Protection website for information concerning the requirements to enter, transit through, or return to the US. This is particularly important should you rent  an RV in Canada with plans to travel to Alaska.

Passports/Visas and Travelling with a Minor

Customs officers at all Canadian entry points are authorized to interview persons seeking entry to Canada to determine admissibility. Their goal is to facilitate the entry of legitimate travellers as quickly as possible.

When you enter Canada, an officer will ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if one is necessary. (All adults and children arriving in Canada by air, land or sea require a valid passport.) Most visitors, depending on country of origin, can stay up to six months in Canada. For more information visit the official government webpages: How long can I stay in Canada as a visitor? and Find out if you need a visa to travel to Canada.

Adults entering the country with anyone under 18 (a ‘minor’) must present the child’s passport and whatever form of identification is required. Please read the federal government’s requirements for minor children entering Canada as a visitor. Note that if a parent is travelling alone with a child(ren) it is advised to have a photo ID copy and signed letter of permission to travel from his or her spouse/partner (or other legal guardian of the child), with their contact information.

Border Wait Times

For expected wait times crossing the Canada-United States land borders visit the Government of Canada’s webpage on border wait times, which is updated on an hourly basis. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has a webpage dedicated to the Lower Mainland crossings.

Personal Baggage

As a visitor, you can bring certain goods into Canada for your own use as “personal baggage”. Personal baggage includes clothing, camping and sports equipment, cameras, and laptops. It also includes vehicles and vessels.

As required by law, all goods must be declared at the time of entry with customs. Visit the Government of Canada’s webpage on Visitors to Canada for regulations. It has information on what you can bring with you, restricted/prohibited goods, travelling with alcohol and tobacco, and more.

Currency and monetary instruments equal to or greater than CAN$10,000 (per family if travelling as a family) must be reported to Canadian customs upon arrival and you must fill out a report known as an E677.

Gifts and Food

Gifts valued under CAN$60 for a friend/family member or business contact are allowed when coming into Canada. If the value is over CAN$60, you or the company will have to pay duties and taxes on the excess amount. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and/or business advertising cannot be considered as gifts. If you are arriving with gifts, do not wrap them before departure.

For those with plans to arrive with food the CFIA has a webpage about bringing food into Canada for personal use. Note that restrictions will vary depending on the item, the country of origin and even the Canadian province you’re travelling to.

Pets

Vacationing with Fluffy? Travellers entering Canada with a pet will require the correct paperwork at the border to meet import requirements. For more information visit the CFIA website dedicated to travelling with a pet. (Note that only dogs, cats and ferrets qualify as pets by CFIA.)

Vehicles and Boats

Visitors to Canada can temporarily import passenger and recreational vehicles and vessels for personal use, such as snowmobiles, campers and trailers, boats and outboard motors. However, you will have to export these items by the date your visit ends unless you have completed a BSF375, CBSA Report (formerly known as Form E99). The CBSA lists information on the temporary importation of marine vessels for seasonal/leisure use.

Firearms

Canada’s firearms laws help make the country safer for both residents and visitors. All permissible firearms and self-defence weapons must be declared at customs when you enter the country (proof of ownership and safe transport are generally required). If you do not declare them, customs officers will seize the goods and you could face criminal charges. As many types of firearms and weapons are illegal in Canada it is necessary to consult the rules and regulations before attempting to import any.

For information about Canada’s firearms laws, a specific firearm, weapon, device, and mandatory import fees, contact the Canadian Firearms Program at 1-800-731-4000 (from North America) and 1-506-624-5380 (from other countries) or visit the RCMP website on importing firearms.

Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989