Yes, cross-border shopping has declined over the years, but even with a low loonie, Canadians are still heading south in search of discounted clothing, cheaper cheese, and lower-priced flights. According to the Conference Board of Canada, travel to the US is expected to return to normal growth in 2017. And with Black Friday fast approaching on November 25, we’re already strategizing our descent!

Shopping in the US can be an adventure – you never know what deals you’ll score, and that’s just half the fun!  But in case you experience an accident or medical emergency, make sure to get travel medical insurance before you go.

When planning a trip, you’ve likely asked yourself, “How much can I bring back to Canada?” or “What can I bring back to Canada?” Here are some quick tips at-a-glance to help you answer these questions.

cross border shopping outlets US
Shopping at outlet malls across the border? Learn about restricted items and personal exemptions before you go!

How much can I bring back to Canada when cross-border shopping?

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. To help you out, here are the current duty free limits for Canadians:

Duty-Free Limits for Canadians
Returning after less than 24 hoursFor same day shoppers, all goods brought in from the US (including alcohol) can be charged with applicable duty and taxes.
Returning after 24 to 48 hours Up to $200 (CAD) is permitted, excluding alcohol and tobacco products. If you buy more than $200 worth of goods, you’ll have to pay duty.
Returning after 48 hours or moreMaximum of $800 (CAD) is permitted. Alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco can be included in this amount, and you can bring either up to 1.5 litres of wine, 1.14 litres of alcoholic beverages or up to 8.5 litres of beer.

Need more info? Check out the personal exemptions mini guide.

What can I bring back to Canada when shopping in the US?

Whether you’re bringing back luxury goods, outlet bargains, gifts or weekly groceries, it’s important to know what you can and can’t bring back to Canada. Restrictions vary on what food and groceries you can bring back, depending on the product—some may even vary based on province.

Basic groceries and snacks are duty-free, but for most non-edible consumer goods, you’ll have to pay the applicable duties and taxes. Because jewellery is valuable and hard to identify, make sure you have an appraisal report, receipts and certification to show where you purchased your jewellery and how much your items cost.

cross border grocery shopping limits
Stocking up on groceries on your trip to the US? Learn what items are prohibited from Canada.

Grocery items that you can bring back to Canada from the US

Food, plants and animals pose a risk to Canada as they can carry disease or invasive species. Because of this, the Canadian government regulates importing and exporting these types of products to and from Canada.

As of March 2016, all raw poultry, eggs and raw pet foods that are sourced, processed, packaged or shipped from the US are currently banned due to a high risk of avian influenza.

Use our table below as a guide to find out which items you can bring into Canada, along with their limits:

Permitted Grocery Items
Meat and poultry products (e.g. jerky, sausages, deli meats)*20 kg per person
Baked goods and candiesUp to 20 kg per person (shouldn’t contain meat)
Fish and seafoodAll species except:
• Pufferfish
• Chinese mitten crab
Instant formula (commercially packaged)Up to 20 kg per person
Dairy (e.g. cheese, milk, yogurt, butter)Up to 20 kg per person
Permitted Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh15 packages or less up to 250 kg (excluding potatoes; limit is one bag up to 4 kg)
Dried (including herbs)15 packages per person up to 250 kg
Frozen (including herbs)• Fruits – 15 packages or cans per person up to 250 kg
• Vegetables – Up to 20 kg per person

* Meat and poultry packages should clearly state the type of product and include proof of origin in order to cross the border.

Note for BC Residents: fresh apples, stone fruit (apricots, nectarines, peaches, etc.) and potatoes are not allowed back into BC – think twice before you stock up on these items!

For more information, check out the guidelines for importing food, animal and plant products on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website.

How much alcohol and tobacco can I bring into Canada?

You must be of legal drinking age in order to bring alcohol and tobacco into Canada (18 years for Alberta, Manitoba & Quebec; 19 years for the remaining provinces and territories), and you must be returning after 48 hours or more.

AlcoholLimits & Estimates
Wine1.5 litres or 2 750 ml bottles
Liquor1.14 litres or 1 large standard bottle
Beer or ale8.5 litres or approx. 24 cans or bottles
Tobacco Products**• 200 cigarettes
• 50 cigars
• 200 g (7 ounces) manufactured tobacco
• 200 tobacco sticks

** You may need to pay a special duty for cigarettes or tobacco products unless they are marked, “DUTY PAID CANADA DROIT ACQUITTÉ.”

What items am I prohibited from bringing into Canada?

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 you’re not allowed to bring into Canada:

  • Baby walkers
  • Infant self-feeding devices
  • Jequirity beans
  • Lawn darts with elongated tips
  • Second hand mattresses (unless you have a document that certifies that the mattress has been cleaned and fumigated)

For the full list of items prohibited from importing into Canada, check the Consumer Product Safety section on Health Canada’s website.

Declaration, documentation and duties

Always declare all of your purchases to speed up your border verification and clearance. There are specific items that may require documents such as valid permits or certificates of origin. These include:

  • Meat and dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Plants
  • Fruits
  • Live animals

You can bring most non-edible consumer goods into Canada, but you’ll have to pay duty and taxes based on your province of residence for goods imported for personal use such as apparel, appliances, electronics, sporting goods and toys. Head over to the Canada Border Services Agency’s duty and taxes estimator to get a ballpark idea of the duty you may need to pay.

Now that you’re prepped for your next foray into the States, it’s time to enjoy your cross-border shopping trip! If you’re headed to the US for Black Friday, check out our 3 cross-border tips for your Black Friday spree. And if you’re a frequent traveller, find out how you can track your Canadian border crossing history online.

What are your top questions or doubts regarding what you can bring back to Canada? Share with us in the comments below!

Happy travels,


Find related articles on travel
  • Kevin

    If I am in the US for 48 hours can I bring four new tires mount on rims on my car?

    • TuGo

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your query. While tires are not specifically in the prohibited list, you may have to pay applicable duty or taxes, depending on your place of residence in Canada (

      To confirm if you’re allowed to bring tires mounted on rims, please call the Border Information Service at 1800-461-9999 within Canada or 204-983-3500 from outside Canada.

      Hope this helps you find the information you’re looking for.

      Happy travels,


  • Jode

    Crossed over for a beach vacay and had a peice of wood from a bundle in the box of our truck from a beach fire. It was a big NO NO! Got pulled aside and questioned about our little peice of firewood. Not like we cared about bringing it back to Canada, it was just forgotten about. We had to walk it back to the states and “get rid of it”

    • TuGo

      Hi Jode,

      Thank you so much for sharing your cross-border experience with us. While travellers are allowed to bring in finished wood products or wooden souvenirs back to Canada, they’re required to be free of bark, insects and evidence of insect activity (

      Chances are, your piece of firewood contained harmful insects or evidence of insects, and therefore was not allowed across the border. I’m glad you were able to get rid of the wood, and I’m sure that this will be helpful information for all our readers!

      Happy cross-border travels,


  • Scott Millican

    The ban on raw poultry products was only from certain states, not all of the US. The biggest issue was, lots of times poultry in the meat dept., they couldn’t tell you what state it came from, as they would get it from their meat distribution center.

    However….the ban has been lifted as of about a month or so ago, at least according to the CBSA officers I talked to. I cross about once a month to gather items for my business and was informed that poultry was good to go now.

    • TuGo

      Hi Scott,

      Thank you so much for the information; you’re absolutely right about the ban of poultry products from certain states. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the ban is only related to poultry products originating from states like Indiana.

      While the rules at the border may be relaxed, the information related to these prohibited items and avian flu is still up on Government of Canada’s website (, so we’ve included it in this article to help Canadian travellers make informed decisions when crossing the border.

      We’ll keep a close eye on related alerts and will regularly update this page for accuracy. Meanwhile, thanks again for sharing your experience. I’m sure this information will be helpful for travellers who visit the US frequently!.

      Happy cross-border travels,


      • Scott Millican

        Well for one, the link provided is broken, and there is nothing under the Travel banner that says anything about no poultry or Avian flu.

        Zika virus….but otherwise, natta

      • TuGo

        Hi Scott,

        Sorry about that. Here’s the correct link and we’ve edited the broken link in our last comment too!



  • pradeep


    I am going to USA for 5 days for an official trip and carrying my office laptop with me. While returning back to CANADA along with this office laptop I am also bringing an another personal laptop(which is new one bought by my sister in USA) which is worth of CAD 470 dollar.

    is there any charges for this ? where I can check the information related to this ? do I need to mention this to Border Services agency?

    could you please help..

    • TuGo

      Hi Pradeep,

      As per the duty-free limits for Canadians, since you’ll be returning after 48 hours, you’re permitted to bring in a maximum of $800 (CAD) worth of goods without paying regular duty and taxes. This limit also includes alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco.

      If you plan to purchase or bring anything else across the border besides the laptop, you’ll only need to pay additional duties or taxes if the total value of goods purchased exceeds $800(CAD). Head to CBSA’s duty and taxes estimator ( and select your province along with the product category to get an estimate of the additional duties you may need to pay.

      It’s important to note that the duty-free limits only apply to new purchases, so they shouldn’t impact the items you already own that you’re carrying into the US. However, the Government of Canada advises that even if items are allowed into Canada, they should still be declared on your declaration card.

      Hope this answers your question!

      Happy cross-border travels,




    I am traveling to US for 5 days and carrying my office laptop with me. while coming back to my country of residence CANADA I also bringing a new laptop with me and its cost is CAD 470

    is there a additional fee/charges I need to pay at the Canadian border agency ?

    could you explain as I have 2 laptops what I need to do here ? do I also need to inform while going to US or coming back about these laptops in the declarations forms ?

  • robert smith

    Will be in arizona for 2 weeks, bringing back pecans from the Green Valley orchard, is there a limit on how much pecans one can bring home.

  • Christine

    I was told the I could go to Platsburg for the day and purchase my groceries duty free. Is this true?

    • TuGo

      Hi Christine,

      If you’re a Canadian resident travelling to the US and returning in less than 24 hours, you may be charged with applicable duty and taxes. For more accurate information, head to the duty and taxes estimator on Canada Border Services Agency website ( and select your place of residence and relevant category and product.

      Happy cross border shopping,


    • TuGo

      Hi there,

      That’s a great question! The deductible usually depends on the type of policy purchased. If you chose a specific deductible at the time of purchase, that amount would be applied when you make a claim. As mentioned in the example above, we would also apply a $15,000 deductible in the event that an honest mistake was made when submitting a medical health questionnaire.

      If you’ve purchased your policy recently and are unclear about your deductible or other policy details, feel free to connect with our Customer Service team. You can call us toll-free on 1855-929-8846 or email us at

      Happy travels,


      • TuGo

        Hi Marie-France,

        You’re right. We should have highlighted it as ‘Best destinations to see cherry blossoms on the west coast’. Since the author was based in Vancouver, we decided to focus on events based in and around the city and also included some international events for people interested in travelling abroad for hanami or blossom viewing.

        Thank you for the addition of Sakura in High Park (!

        Happy cherry blossom travels,


  • Singlepookey

    I’m crossing the border at Windsor into states. Shopping in Sault Michigan and crossing into Soo Canada .Staying a week then returning to Windsor via Detroit border with the goods I’ve purchased at beginning of trip. Can I do that.

  • Amélie Poiré

    How many dollars of candies (without taxes..) can i bring back in Canada after less than 24h ?

    • TuGo

      Hi Amélie,

      There are no personal exemptions for cross-border shoppers returning after less than 24 hours, so you might be charged with applicable duty and taxes for all goods purchased in the US (including alcohol).

      To get an idea of how much you might have to pay based on your place of residence, head to the Canada Border Service Agency’s Duty and Taxed Estimator

      Happy cross border shopping,


  • Tanis Beam

    If you purchase clothing at a Thrift Store or Second Hand Store, are these items duty-free or are they also taxable at the border coming back into Canada?

    • TuGo

      Hi Tanis,

      Since the Government of Canada has not specified any specific rules regarding used clothing, the same duty-free limits may be applicable. If the used clothing has been purchased from a thrift store, second hand store or flea market, remember to save the receipt to show value.

      Ultimately, a border services officer will determine what or how much you can bring back, including applicable duty and taxes.

      Happy cross border travels,


  • Dominique Desautels

    bonjour j’habite au Quebec et j’aimerais acheter un campeur porté usagé fabriqué au Canada mais qui est en vente présentement chez un concessionnaire dans l’état de New York. est ce que j’aurai une taxe de douane à payer ?

    • TuGo

      Bonjour Dominique,

      Selon le gouvernement du Canada, lorsque vous importez des biens ou un véhicule à des fins d’usage personnel au Canada (même temporairement), vous devez répondre à tous les critères d’importation et payer les taxes et les frais de douane appropriés. Pour obtenir plus d’information au sujet de l’achat et l’importation d’un véhicule depuis les États-Unis, je vous invite à consulter

      Bonne route,

  • Kyle Ball

    if i pick up a package from across the border and bring it back over, will i have to pay the duties on it everytime i go over and pick another one up?

    • TuGo

      Hi Kyle,

      Based on your absence from the country and personal exemption, you might have to pay duty and taxes every time you cross the border. Ultimately, a border services officer will determine if and how much you have to pay on every visit.

      Hope this answers your query. For more information, feel free to contact Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999 within Canada.

      Happy travels,


  • Pascal Vassalotti

    i am traveling to usa with my wife for 10 days can i combine the max allowed ex 800+800 = 1600

    • TuGo

      Hi Pascal,

      That is a great question! According to Government of Canada, you cannot combine your personal exemptions with those of another person or transfer them to someone else. It also specifies that you cannot combine your 48-hour exemption (CAN$800) with your seven-day exemption (CAN$800) for a total exemption of CAN$1,600.

      However, there are some exceptions for parents travelling with children or infants. For more information, check the Conditions on your personal exemptions section here

      Happy cross border shopping,


  • Carlo

    Je voulais savoir si les achats pour entreprises doivent aussi être sujets à ces règles. Je dois acheter une machine pour mon commerce de détail qui se fabrique et vend seulement aux usa. Est ce que je dois payer des frais de douanes ? Merci.

    • TuGo

      Bonjour Carlo,

      Les règles pour les achats commerciaux sont différentes des règles pour les achats à des fins personnels mais en gros, oui ces achats sont sujets au droit de douane. Je vous invite à consulter le site de l’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada à cet effet. Vous y trouverez un guide étape par étape pour tout ce qui concerne l’importation de marchandises commerciales au Canada.

  • France Danis

    Durant la périodes des fêtes j’aimerais faire un aller retour au USA et j’aimerais avoir une idée des frais que j’aurai a payer en declarant mes achats. Par exemple quelques items d’épicerie et aussi des biens (tissus, ruban, vetement etc) taxes et autre frais ?? pouvez vous m’aider merci je suis du quebec

    • TuGo

      Bonjour France,

      En ce qui concerne les taxes et frais de douanes à payer, tout dépend de ce que vous achetez et le prix payé pour chacun des articles. Je vous invite donc à utiliser l’outil Estimateur des droits et des taxes du gouvernement du Canada (lien ci-dessous). Vous n’avez qu’à inscrire votre province de résidence, le type de produit et la valeur approximative de celui-ci, et vous obtiendrez le montant approximatif à payer.

      Merci et bon magasinage 🙂

  • TuGo

    Hi there,

    For same day shoppers, all goods brought in from the US (including alcohol) can be charged with applicable duty and taxes. Head to the duty and taxes estimator to get an idea about the amount of duty and taxes you might have to pay based on your place of residence and the items you’re planning to bring into Canada.

    Happy cross border shopping,


  • Lise

    I have been to the States since November and I am returning to Ontario in December for 6 weeks. I will come back to the States in February 2018. I made a purchase of $1,800 US in December but will bring only $900 worth of products with me. Do I need to declare the whole purchase.

    • TuGo

      Hi Lise,

      Good question! According to the Government of Canada: “You must declare all goods you acquired while outside Canada, including purchases, gifts, prizes and awards that you have with you or are being shipped to you.” So in your case, you should only have to declare your $900 purchase. Check out I Declare: A Guide for residents returning to Canada, for more details (

      Have a great trip,

  • Alfred Sally

    Hi – great site here. Here’s my question: if I bring back something (one thing) worth more than my exemption, do I pay duty on the entire amount is worth? Or only the difference between what it is worth, and my exemption ?

    • TuGo

      Hi Alfred,

      Glad you enjoyed our site. The duty-free limits show you the permissible limits based on your return date. If you’re bringing in anything beyond these limits, the duty and taxes estimator will help you get an idea of how much you might need to pay. will

      Hope this solves your query,

      Happy cross border shopping!


  • TuGo

    Hi Brittany,

    Great question! According to Government of Canada, even young children and infants are entitled to a personal exemption. As a parent, you can make a declaration on behalf of your children as long as the goods you are declaring are for their use. Hence the limit you mentioned will apply to them as well as long as your purchase is for them.

    Hope this answers your question. Have fun shopping in US!


  • Estelle Nolin

    Doit-on dire que nous n’avons rien à déclarer si nous n’excedons pas ce qui est permis?

    • TuGo

      Bonjour Estelle,

      Je vous invite à consulter le site Web de l’Agence des services frontaliers du Canada pour trouver la réponse à votre question. pour avoir la réponse exacte à votre question. En gros, toute marchandise importée au Canada doit être déclarée.

  • Jean-Michel Thériault

    Bonjour, si je vais au USA pour une durée de 24-48 heures, puis-je ramener de l’alcool dès lors que je paie les taxes à la frontière? Si oui quelle est la quantité maximale que je peux ramener?

    • TuGo

      Bonjour Jean-Michel,

      Pour toute questions relatives aux douanes et à l’import d’alcool au Canada, je vous invite à contacter directement l’Agence de services frontaliers du Canada qui saura vous donner une réponse précise selon votre situation.

      Merci et bonne fin de journée!

  • gotnoname

    So I purchase some hiking shoes online and plan to pick it up over the border and go for a hike while I’m over the border. Essentially it’ll be used once I return back (less than 24 hours). Do I need to declare this?

    • TuGo

      Hi there,

      Yes, according to the CBSA website, “you must declare all goods you acquired while outside Canada, including purchases, gifts, prizes and awards that you have with you or are being shipped to you,” so declaring your shoes would be your best bet.

      Happy hiking!

  • SM

    Hi, I live in US and I’m planning to go to Canada to meet my brother who just arrived in Ontario on student visa. Can I gift him my 2 year old/used microwave??
    Unfortunately, I do not have any receipt saved for it as it was not my plan.

    Any help is much appreciated! Thanks!

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

Oct 6 2016