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Plan Ahead This Holiday Season

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 11/21/12 -- The arrival of Black Friday in the U.S.A. marks the beginning of the holiday season for many Canadians. If you decide to travel, as you prepare for your road trip this weekend, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reminds you to plan ahead with these cross-border time-savers.

- Border wait times for land borders are available at, or follow us on Twitter for hourly border wait time updates at BWT_CBSA.

- Ensure that you have proper identification for yourself and everyone in the vehicle readily available.

- Acceptable forms of identification for entry into Canada include a passport, a NEXUS card and an enhanced driver's licence.

- Consider applying for NEXUS and save time when entering Canada or the U.S.

- Turn off radios and cell phones when approaching the inspection booths, roll down your window, remove sunglasses and speak directly to the border services officer.

- Stop at the stop sign when entering a primary lane. The driver of the vehicle should concentrate on driving while a passenger holds the identification until it is required to be presented to the officer.

- Declare all purchases made and have your receipts readily available.

Know your personal exemptions.

                       Limits for personal exemptions                       
After being away for:                                                       
Less than 24 hours       There is no personal exemption for stays less than 
                         24 hours.                                          
24 hours or more         CAN$200                                            
                         If the amount being imported exceeds CAN$200, the  
                         duty and taxes are applicable on the entire amount 
                         of the imported goods.                             
48 hours or more         CAN$800, including alcohol and tobacco             
                         Duty and taxes are applicable on the amount of     
                         imported goods above CAN$800.                      
7 days or more           CAN$800, including alcohol and tobacco             
                         Duty and taxes are applicable on the amount of     
                         imported goods above CAN$800.                      
                         Goods may be in your possession at time of entry to
                         Canada but are also permitted to follow entry to   
                         Canada (via courier, mail or delivery agent or     
                         pickup by the importer).                           
                         Alcohol and tobacco must be in your possession at  
                         the time of entry to qualify for a duty-free       

Stay connected.

- We know you are mobile and now we are too. Stay connected with us at

- For even more travel tips, watch the CBSA's travel tips video on YouTube.

Have something to say? We want to hear it! If you have questions about your interactions with border services officers, we encourage you to speak to a CBSA superintendent who can address your questions or concerns at that time. Alternatively, you can visit the CBSA Web site and fill out an electronic feedback form where you can voice comments, complaints and compliments.

Follow us on Twitter (@CanBorder), join us on Facebook or visit our YouTube channel.


Making your return to Canada easier this holiday season

Your personal exemption limits are as follows:

--  After each absence of 24 hours or more - You can claim up to CAN$200
    worth of goods without paying any duty and taxes. You must have the
    goods with you when you arrive in Canada, and you cannot include tobacco
    products or alcoholic beverages in this exemption. If the goods you
    bring in are worth more than CAN$200 in total, you cannot claim this
    exemption. Instead, you have to pay full duty and taxes on all goods you
    bring in. 

--  After each absence of 48 hours or more - You can claim up to CAN$800
    worth of goods without paying any duty and taxes. 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. 

--  After each absence of 7 days or more - You can claim up to CAN$800 worth
    of goods without paying any duty and taxes. Although you can include
    some tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, a partial exemption may
    apply to cigarettes, tobacco products and manufactured tobacco. With the
    exception of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, you do not need
    to have the goods with you when you arrive. 

1. What is duty?

Duty is a tax on the import and export of specific goods, imposed to generate revenue and/or to protect Canadian industries.

2. Where does the money go?

All duties collected are submitted to the Crown.

3. What can I expect to pay duty on?

Duty rates vary depending on the commodity and country of origin. In general, there is no duty under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for goods manufactured in North America; however, HST or GST and/or PST may be applicable when there are no personal exemption entitlements.

4. How can I pay my duties and taxes owed?

You can pay by cash, traveller's cheque, Visa, American Express or MasterCard. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) also accepts debit cards at most offices. If an amount is no more than CAN$2,500, you can sometimes pay by personal cheque. A border services officer will give you a receipt showing the calculations and amount you paid.

5. What is a regular duty rate?

If you do not qualify for a personal exemption, or if you exceed your exemption limit, you will have to pay the GST/HST, as well as any duty or other tax or assessment that applies on the excess amount. Duty rates vary according to the goods you are importing and the country where the goods were made. You may also have to pay the PST if you live in a province where the CBSA has an agreement to collect the tax and you return to Canada through that province.

The CBSA has developed a tool to provide travellers with an estimate of the duties and taxes owing on goods imported for personal use. For some indication of the duty rates that might apply to your purchases, you can access this tool on the CBSA Web site at:

Some commonly imported goods and their duty rates are as follows:

Clothing: 16-18%

Toys, gaming consoles and games: duty free

Wheeled toys (tricycles, pedal cars): 8%

Footwear: 16-20%

Tires (vehicles): 6.5% (Note: only new tires are permitted entry into Canada.)

Tires (bicycles, motorcycles): duty free

Car parts: 6-8%

Televisions: 6%

Books: duty free

Furniture (wood, plastic, upholstered): 9.5%

Computers and peripherals: duty free

iPads and tablets: duty free

Digital cameras and camcorders: duty free

Stereos: duty free

Blackberries, iPhones, cell phones: duty free

Jewelry: 8.5%

Christmas decorations: duty free

Linens (bed and table): 17-18%

Linens (quilts and comforters): 14%

DVDs: 6%

Large appliances (e.g. washers, dryers, dishwashers, fridges, freezers, stoves, ranges): 8%


These rates are valid as of November 6, 2012 and are subject to change.

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