Shopping in the US can be an adventure – you never know what deals you’ll score, and that’s half the fun! But while waiting in line at the border, you’ve likely asked yourself, “How much can I bring back to Canada?” or “What can I bring back to Canada?”… I have too!

Dollar limits for how much you can bring back

As Canadian residents, we’re eligible for personal exemptions when returning to Canada. What’s a personal exemption, you ask? It’s the dollar value of goods that you can bring back to Canada without paying regular duty and taxes, which varies based on your trip length.

Duty-Free Limits for Canadians
<24 hrs $0, no personal exemptions
24-48 hrs $200
>48 hours$800

Know what you can bring back across the border to Canada*

Restrictions vary on what food and groceries you can bring back, depending on the product—some may even vary based on province. If you need more details, check out the Government of Canada’s personal exemptions mini guide.

duty free groceries & snacks from USA to Canada
* Applicable as of November 2018, but this information can change at any time. For a complete overview, visit “What Can I Bring Into Canada in Terms of Food, Plant, Animal or Related Products”.

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What can’t I bring back into Canada for the US?

Just as it’s important to know what you can bring into the country, you should also be aware of what you can’t. Here are a few surprising items not allowed into Canada:

  • Baby walkers
  • Baby teethers, pacifiers, bottle nipples and self-feeding devices
  • Jequirity beans (used for ornamental purposes, prayer beads and maracas)
  • Kites and kite strings made of materials that conduct electricity
  • Lawn darts with elongated tips

For the full list of prohibited items, check Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety section.

Declaration, documents and duties

Always declare everything! According to Canada Border Services Agency, many travellers fail to declare:

  • Processed or canned foods
  • Homemade food
  • Handmade crafts, including wooden items
  • Soil or plants used for homeopathic or medicinal purposes

Speed up your time going through the border by also making sure you’re prepared with any valid permits or certificates of origin, if they’re required; check the CBSA website before the border, to make sure you have everything you need to proceed smoothly.

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to pay duties. Instead, visit Canada Border Services Agency’s duty and taxes estimator in advance, to get an idea of the duty you may need to pay for consumer goods.

Now that you’re prepped for your next trip to the States, it’s time to enjoy your cross-border shopping trip!

Happy travels,


Cross border shopping: How much can I bring back to Canada?

Nov 8 2018